Friendship and Balls…. by Kate Furnivall
Phew! It’s over. Wimbledon tennis championship has packed itself away for another year and what a corker it was. Only a few days since the last ball was struck and I am already suffering acute withdrawal pains. I might have to drink gin for breakfast. But let’s not go there!
All the strawberries and champagne have been consumed, great chunks of Centre Court have been scuffed to Saharan dust, the flying ants have had their five minutes of fame and awesome Roger has sauntered into the history books with his usual grace and elegance. It was two weeks of heaven. An oasis of white.
But what impresses me most about that fortnight is the sheer gut-clenching courage of these brilliant tennis players. They are willing to lay their heart out there on the hallowed courts of SW19 in front of millions of people, so that we get to see what they are made of. We look right into their eyes. There is nowhere to hide. We see in glorious technicolor their fear, their pride, their grit, their anger and frustration. Their sheer bloody-mindedness. Their tears. Their joy. We get to judge them as people because we’ve seen their guts spilled on the grass. Mano a mano. And it struck me that it is the same with authors. We are judged. We are dissected. We think that we can hide behind our stories. But we can’t. Our blood and guts are spilled on the page for all to see.
Which is why when we meet people who have read our books, there is an interesting mismatch. It’s weird really. To us they are strangers. To them we are old friends who have spent many a night curled up in bed with them! In my early days of writing, this used to throw me. When approached after I’d given talks or done book signings I used to think, ‘Excuse me, madam (it was always a madam), but I don’t know you well enough to be hugged and mauled and kissed and told your intimate life history.’ Not that I minded exactly. More surprised and wrong-footed. Yes, yes, I know! I was such a dimwit. I had no idea what I – via my stories – meant to these kind and supportive lovely readers. We had bonded in secret over my characters’ intense emotions and been on perilous journeys together in the privacy of our shared mind-space. Of course we were friends. And now I am the first to open my arms to them with gratitude. How lucky I am to have so many, and I appreciate every one.
I am always thrilled to do a launch of my new book, hopping up and down with excitement like a demented two-year-old at the prospect of meeting my readers. I was hugely touched last time when one – the delightful Clare from West Looe – travelled all the way up from Cornwall just to get my new book signed in person and to exchange a few words (well yes, we did stretch to a coffee beforehand in Lily’s Cafe too). And then there’s Facebook and Twitter where I have met so many other wonderful and supportive readers. Their encouraging posts mean a heck of a lot to me when the blank page glares at me each morning. Even if it’s just a dig in the ribs telling me to pull my finger out and get a bloody move on with the next one – a sentiment my ever-patient editor would heartily endorse, I’m sure.
So thank you to my readers. Seriously. You are why I do this writing lark. Why I sit down each morning and start banging my head against the desk. Like the Wicked Queen in Snow White I strive to create the magic rosy apple that will tempt you – okay, I admit I even add a touch of poison sometimes to distress or scare you. (But hey, you love that, don’t you?)
So what I want to say to you is this:- you give my days their purpose. I spend my weeks, months and even years trying to conjure up the magic to add to the meat and gristle of the narrative, to keep you on board for the journey. My next book is The Betrayal and I hope you will come and take a bite out of it.