Me and Christine

I first met Christine when she won first prize in a short story competition I was judging. The competition was run by Ford and the prize was to own a shiny new Fiesta for a year. My delightful job was to take her to lunch and hand over the keys. The lovely people at Ford booked us into a super swanky restaurant in Canary Wharf and gave me four hundred pounds to pay for it.

After four hours they came looking for us. Suffice to say that we’d had a lovely lunch and there was no change from the four hundred quid. Ahem. Thus our firm friendship was cemented in style.

Geography meant that we didn’t see a lot of each other and she was busy juggling jobs and bringing up her children (plus four cats and a dog). But we kept in touch over the years, mostly by email and Christine came to some of my events when they were near to her. But we always got on so well. I admired her resilience, her ambition, her love for her two boys.

Fast forward to the publication of my 25th novel, The Christmas Party, and I held a party at Matthews’ Towers in celebration. Christine came along and brought me a present. When I opened it, I really had no idea what it was. I knew that she was now working in papercrafting, but wasn’t familiar with the specifics.

Anyway, the present was a die cutting machine. It was lovely, but I’d absolutely no idea what to do with it. So Christine very kindly said she’d come up for the day and show me.

By the time the agreed crafting play date came around, I thought it would be a good idea to invite some more friends to dip their toes in the water of papercrafting. Little did Christine know that she was to spawn a monster that day – actually quite a few of them!

I became completely addicted to papercrafting and so did a few more of my friends. We threw ourselves into it with a vengeance and bought up paper, dies, glitter, double-sided tape, ALL OF THE THINGS, at a voracious rate. Soon one box of essentials became ten. Then I completely remodelled my office (and banished Lovely Kev to his own office) to fit in a crafting area. I couldn’t sit through a film anymore without looking through card-making ideas on Pinterest. The bug had definitely bitten!

Christine organised a crafting weekend away for ten of us and we trotted off to a lovely hotel with our boxes filled with crafting goodies. We spent the day happily cutting, gluing and glittering. It was after dinner – wine may have been involved – when we had the time to have a long overdue catch up. We chatted for hours and Christine filled me in on the trials and tribulations of her life. What an interesting tale! I didn’t sleep that night. My brain had gone into overdrive and I realised that Christine’s story would make a wonderful, heartfelt novel.

When I asked her could I write her story, she just laughed and said she was happy for me to go ahead but couldn’t imagine why I’d want to, but the story just burned in my brain. I got back from the weekend and started to write, sending Christine each chapter to read as I’d finished it. We did some laughing and some crying along the way.

I’m so pleased with this book and think it’s an incredible story. I hope you like it too. I don’t think that either Christine or I could have imagined where our friendship would go when we first met, but I’m so glad that we did. She’s given me so much. I have a lovely book, a fabulous hobby and some great crazy, crafting ladies who meet up once a month to indulge our love of papercrafting. I hope this tempts you to try it too!