A while ago, in fact, about 20 years ago, I had my first story published. Company Magazine ran a competition, looking for crime stories with a female focus. The idea jigged around my head for a while, and then one morning, I woke up and there was this story in my head. I think it took a few hours to get the first draft down, then a couple of weekends to tweak and rewrite, and then I posted it off and did my best to forget about it.
I came third, I think. A cheque for £50, and the story was published in an anthology. I was invited to a reception at Murder and Co, just off the Tottenham Court Road at that stage (it's on Charing Cross Road, just up the road from Leicester Square now). There was champagne and Liza Cody. I was given a copy of the anthology, which is there rubbing dustjackets with various short story collections on the shelves, and then I turned my hand to other stuff. Like my scintillating best-seller, European Natural Gas Markets, and moving to China and directing a couple of plays and then onto the regency romance market, and moving to Brussels and all that life business like marriage and minions and mortgages. That story, Box, was long-forgotten.
Here in Brussels, we lived with Radio 4 Long Wave for quite a while, to the point where even the cricket-averse DH knew who Freddie Flintoff was, until we hooked up with a satellite and now we get Radio 4 FM but via the TV. It comes with little captions so you can see what you are listening to...There is a point to this digression, because imagine my surprise this afternoon, when I glance at the TV and what catches my eye but my maiden name, and there, read by Joanne Whalley (OMG, the heroine of one of my all time favourite TV series, Edge of Darkness), was Box. I listened to it in a sort of weirded out trance, because it was at once familiar and totally strange. I'd heard it in my head for quite a while as I was writing it, but hearing someone else read it, a competent actress who gave it life and flavour and an accent, that was the most wonderful sensation, particularly after a day of the customary stresses associated with dealing with hormonal adolescents and paperwork and marking exams and and and.
And if it had been another day, the likelihood of my hearing it at all would have been remote - what a piece of luck and timing that I actually came across it. The nicest kind of serendipity.
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