Rachel Ward

Accentuate the Positive

At the beginning of 2013 I resolved to write down one good thing about each day over the coming year. I’ve not quite kept it up for 365 days but it has helped me look on the bright side when things have been difficult and reading it back just now has been surprising, illuminating and uplifting. It’s lovely to remember the little things that cause delight (‘Jan 14th – First tulip shoots spotted.’ ‘Tues 26th March – New coat arrived – gert lush. Made warty potato soup.’ ‘Mon 8th April – plum crumble for tea!’ etc. etc.)

Here are some of my other highlights:

My first trip to the Hay Festival was a wonderful experience. I was lucky to be there on a school day and the atmosphere was great. So many enthusiastic students and lots of writers I hadn’t met before who were delightful company and have become friends.

THE DROWNING was published. It’s gathered some great blog reviews in the UK and Germany (where it is simply DROWNING) and has been nominated for the Catalyst Book Award. Excitingly, it was optioned for film by US company, Escape Artists, even before it was published and I can’t wait to see how this develops next year. I also learnt that, after 18 months of blood, sweat and tears, the lack of a book launch sits in the stomach like a sour stone, and so next year, whatever happens, I will have some sort of launch for the sequel, which is, I can exclusively reveal, going to be called ‘Water Born’ or possibly ‘Waterborn’. With or without an ‘e’. Or something. Due out in August (if I ever actually finish writing it).

My role as Patron of Reading has been a great boon. I don’t know if I’ve made any difference to the school, but I’ve so enjoyed being a small part of the Pontypridd High School community. I visited briefly in March and again in October. I’ve been so impressed by the commitment of the school staff, and the care they show for their pupils and pride in their achievements. The pupils I met were delightful and very interested and engaged in the work we did together. I hope that I’ve encouraged an interest in books, films, reading and storytelling in at least some of them and I hope to visit again soon.

Being Patron of Reading has made me examine my own reading habits. For the first time in ages I’ve kept a record of the books read this year. So far, I’ve read 30 books and have challenged myself to try things outside my normal comfort zone, including non-fiction, film scripts, science fiction and horror. Books I enjoyed this year included ‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver, ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness, ‘Code Name Verity’ by Elizabeth Wein, ‘The Crow Trap’ by Ann Cleeve, ‘Mister Creecher’ by Chris Priestley and ‘Stonemouth’ by Iain Banks.
I did lots of school visits and it was so lovely to meet staff and pupils. It’s bizarre, but wonderful, to be treated like a rock star for the day, which some schools do, and I’m very grateful for the warmth shown to me and the affection expressed for my books.

I saw Malorie Blackman at the Bath Kids Lit Festival in October and she gave me a hug and told me she and her daughter loved NUMBERS! Reader, I skipped all the way home. (I really did.)

I was a very small part of the Authors for Philippines auction in November, which raised £55000 for the relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan. Organised by Keris Stainton and others, this auction was a fabulous example of how people can respond quickly and with compassion to those in trouble. It was one of those things that restores your faith in human nature.

I hope that you have had some highlights of your own this year and that next year brings its own surprises and delights. Try writing the good things down.

Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2014.

Love from Rachel xxxx

This entry was posted by Rachel on December 21st 2013
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