Now that I am typing with a fan on my back and it is 40 degrees outside, my trip to the Penzance Literary Festival seems to have happened in another universe. A cooler, windier one where where socks were worn and a trench coat was contemplated.
I set out from Victoria Station in London on - my friend couldn't believe this Euro-punishment choice - a National Express coach. It was long, 10 hours long. Are these the sacrifices poor writers have to make? That thought niggled as I bobbed sleeplessly in my seat.
Dawn came sweetly however, over postcard villages of stone houses and boats dozing in rivers. Cornwall, I had been told, doesn't like to call itself a part of England. I know that feeling, coming from a dusty hinterland of the empire. I wondered how early I could ask for a pint without seeming, well, indecent.
I haven't done a lot of public speaking in the years since I was a debating nerd in school. I've also developed blushing into an art form. A friend called it charming once. I wanted to slog her. Since the book has come out I've had to speak at the launch and do a few readings and book club meetings, phone interviews with journalists and a radio interview in Italian. I've had to Man Up. A strategic drink can help, and I confess I've done one telephone interview in a my pyjamas sitting on a bench outside, stroking my cat. Not so chic, hey?
Last week I was given some essential advice from a friend at the receiving end of my deranged texts. She reminded me that I am the person who knows my book the most, and that I should own these public speaking moments because I have worked so hard to produce and publish this silly book. Doesn't that already make you feel lighter, hardier?
On Day Three at 2pm in the Acorn Theatre I met Sarah Duncan ('Kissing Mr. Wrong') and Liz Fenwick ('The Cornish House'). Both lovely ladies who immediately set me at ease. We moved onto the stage. The lights were turned on. Jugs of water appeared. We all crossed our legs in the most lady-like way.
The session went swimmingly. Not a full hall, but a warm one. Our topic was 'How Did I Get Here?'. Liz was billed as 'a much travelled mother who divides her time between Dubai and Cornwall'. And I was 'an Australian who ran away to Paris at the age of 21'. I managed to not talk too much about silly things such as food-in-Italy, men-in-Italy, shoes-in-Italy. I think. And we also touched upon vital subjects such as method, inspiration and of course '50 Shades of Grey' and the E-book phenomenon. Sarah was a wonderful host and Liz a great speaker. I can honestly say I enjoyed myself more than I could ever have imagined!
And I didn't blush, trip or splutter!
Though I confess I never tried a Cornish pasty, I think I've fallen for Penzance. I hope my publisher doesn't mind me playing around with my cover. This was an unscripted Iphone photo that was too kooky to let go.