2015 has been a strange year. In a lot of ways, it feels ‘quieter’ than previous years – there was no engagement, no book deal, no wedding… and yet, in reality it’s probably been the biggest year yet. It’s been my life-long dream to be a full-time writer and now I’ve finally achieved it, but officially leaving my amazing publishing role (which I loved) ended up being one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. The shock of leaving permanent work has definitely been eased by the prospect of long-term travel in South America – and I’ve always known that if I wanted to continue to grow as a writer, I’d have to continue to live. All my books feature adventure, so I better have a few of my own!
Writing this post has been helpful in remembering that there doesn’t necessarily have to be a big ‘landmark’ event in order to have a big year. So without further ado… 15 memories from an actually spectacular 2015!
1.The nationwide air-raid alarm going off as Lofty and I strolled around Amsterdam. We loved our spring visit to this vibrant city but we didn’t expect the air-raid warning (or civil defence siren, as it’s actually known)! Apparently it’s tested on the first Monday of every month, good to know 🙂 Apart from being momentarily terrified, we ate pancakes of all shapes and sizes, wandered the streets and visited the Rijiksmuseum
2.Making Aga scones on a writing retreat to Skye. Hiding away in beautiful Skye, Scotland in March with two of my best writerly friends, Kim Curran and Laura Lam, visiting castles and fairy pools and writing the second Potion Diaries book: Royal Tour was definitely a highlight of this year. We probably made more Aga scones than we did any actual writing, and we made a great (and unexpected) friend in the beautiful photographer Knibbs, but it was just what I needed.
3.Upgrading to a bright red Jeep and driving around Volcano National Park on Big Island, Hawaii with Lofty, my sister and her boyfriend, Evan. My family is spread across the globe – UK, Canada and Australia – so where better to meet up than the remote islands of Hawaii? For Evan’s 30th birthday we bought him a trip to Volcano National Park, and we had a whirlwind adventure around the lava. We also played golf, ate our bodyweight in tuna poke and learned how to surf. It truly was paradise and I can’t wait to get to go back!
4.The fantastic Forest of Reading event in Toronto, where The Oathbreaker’s Shadow was up for the White Pine Award! How often do authors get to walk on stage and be cheered on like rockstars? The atmosphere here was so fantastic, and I got to meet a ton of readers who loved my books.
5.Filming The Potion Diaries trailer. Watching an awesome team of filmmakers put together a trailer for your book is always going to be a highlight! We took to the New Forest to find a beautiful old shop (The Old Apothecary) and perfect forest scenery to shoot in.
6.Completing the London Colour Run with Kim. So my fitness goals haven’t exactly been at the top of my priority list this year (there have been no marathons!) but I did do a color run and it was brilliant. I’ve also been trying out my local OrangeTheory gym – highly recommended.
7.Launching The Potion Diaries at Waterstones Piccadilly! I can’t even begin to explain how magical the process of publishing The Potion Diaries has been… but it started with the awesome launch party that Simon & Schuster UK helped me put together! My agent, Juliet Mushens, gave me the most beautiful Potion Diaries themed necklace and I felt thoroughly spoiled. Since then, I’ve been on so many school visits and bookshop tours and met tons of fans of the book – it’s been a real experience and one I hope to repeat every year!
8.Finally getting to explore the treasures of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. It was hard to pick a single memory as we’ve done lots of day trips around the UK and exploring the wonders that are a bit closer to home. We also went back to North Wales and also visited Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
9.Dragon-spotting inside the Brighton Pavilion with Zoe. I spent a lot of time in Brighton this year working with my lovely author Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella), and so getting to know her better has been amazing. She is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and what she’s accomplished so far is more than a little bit mind-boggling. But my best memory with her this year was on one of our non-working days, when we wandered the Lanes and visited the Brighton Pavilion, which was weird and wonderful and full of dragons — so of course, I loved it.
10.Dressing up for YALC and London Comiccon. Easily the best UK literary event of the year, YALC was all sorts of awesome! I had fun dressing up as a Capitol citizen for the Hunger Games night and was on a panel the next day hosted by my great friend (and also awesome author) James Smythe. Seeing the passion for YA in the UK is just so motivating, and I am so proud to be a part of this community.
11.Celebrating our wedding anniversary in stunning Dubrovnik, Croatia. In August we sailed for two weeks on the SailCroatia ship Aurora and it was absolutely fantastic. Croatia was one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited – the food was amazing, the weather perfect and the beaches stunning. It was also the ideal place to reflect on our first year of being a married couple – and my conclusion has to be that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have a partner who relishes life’s adventures as much as I do. Life is never a dull moment when we’re together – and who ever wants dull?
12.Appearing on my first morning television show in Toronto. After worrying a little about how Madly would be received in North America, I was truly stunned by the reception! I was featured on CBC and Global News and had a brilliant launch party hosted by Perfect Books in Ottawa. My parents have been such huge supporters of me and my writing, so it was great to have them involved — CBC filmed their segment inside their carpet store, Canadian Rug Traders. The morning TV show was definitely nerve-wracking, but it was also a lot of fun… and gave me a bit of inspiration for book two, which you will read about very soon!
13.Welcoming Remy into the world. One of my best friends welcomed her second baby into the world, the gorgeous Remy, and at just three weeks old she made the journey to Ottawa to come and visit me for my book launch. It was a bit of a hair-raising visit but the memory reminds me just how lucky I am to have such amazing friends who are prepared to do just about anything for one another. I’m really looking forward to being closer to this little girl and her kick-ass big brother (and maybe their parents too) in 2016.
14.Speaking of which… welcoming Cody into the world. Another bestie brought her first born into the world just a few weeks ago, and I am so honoured to be godmother! Cody is just the most delicious little baby and I can’t wait to watch him grow up to be the handsomest little man. I’m going to miss him tons – but one of my new years resolutions is to send more postcards, and this man is going to be top of the receiving list!
15.Pork extravaganza in Krakow, Poland. Another whirlwind European adventure was our trip to Wroclaw and Krakow, Poland! We weren’t exactly sure what to expect from the food in Poland, but we ended up having the most incredible meal of the year. A full pork knuckle with sauerkraut mash and flavoured vodka… drool.
Bonus memory! Christmas in Chippenham… We’ve ended 2015 with a most perfect Christmas in the UK – a great sendoff for our next adventures. 2016 looks set to be one of the best years yet, so bring it on, I say!
Happy New Year to all the blog readers! And be sure to check back in 2016!!