An extraordinary thing happened with The Carer. Within an hour of my appearing on BBC Breakfast TV it shot to number 1 on Amazon. It didn’t stay there long but it was rather thrilling, and just shows the power of TV. In fact the show was a hoot – I did Sky Breakfast too – because I made my hosts laugh and you always meet such an odd mix of people in the green room. And you get a free, professional make-up that lasts all day and makes you look twenty years younger.
The novel also made the Sunday Times Bestseller list for several weeks, which was equally thrilling. I think it touched a nerve – I never realized how many people are looking after an elderly relative, or indeed are that elderly relative themselves. How many people feel guilty/resentful/jealous/deeply deeply grateful, when a carer enters into the heart of their home and takes that relative over. I heard lots of stories – one, for instance, about a 90-year-old who had always been a very difficult mother – cold, indeed quite cruel – but when she got a carer she changed completely, becoming warm and chatty and telling the carer all sorts of revealing stuff about her own childhood – something she’d never told anyone in her family. Imagine the complex emotions that produced. Meat and drink to a novelist, of course.
I think it helps that the novel is funny. It can be such a stressful, painful and sometimes tragic situation that reading about it, and being able to laugh, is hugely companionable. Despite feeling isolated, people realize they’re not alone. That’s the wonderful thing about novels.
So it’s been an amazing few weeks, since publication. Tinder Press have been marvellous. Novelists can be terrible moaners – it’s something to do with being cooped up all day in a confined space, paranoia breeds like mushrooms – but Tinder have been a breeze. And they’ve got me a lot of forthcoming events – Cheltenham literary festival, North Cornwall, Manchester, a literary lunch in Guildford, all in October, and more later in the autumn. I’ll post details on my next blog.
Meanwhile enjoy the rest of the summer and do get in touch if you fancy, I always like to hear from you, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org