once again I have been neglecting you. The truth is I have been busy writing, and writing and writing (which is what you would expect of me in fairness) towards the deadline for The First Time I Said Goodbye.
At this stage I think it's timely to tell you a little about the book - and to confess that, perhaps unlike any other book I've written - it has got under my skin and I'm not at the stage of writing where it consumes me morning and night.
The story is very simple (and I will reveal more about its genesis in the months to come) - A mother and daughter, grieving the loss of their husband and father, travel back from their home in the States to Ireland on holiday. For the mother (Stella) this is the first time she has been home to Ireland in almost 50 years. For her daughter, Annabel, this is her first time outside of America.
As the story progresses, we find out about Stella and her past - and a love affair with an American GI stationed in Derry in the 1950s.
And we find out about Annabel - lost after the death of her father and trying to make sense of her relationship with her long-term partner, Craig.
Set between the modern day and Derry in 1959 - amid the smoke and smog of the old city, the factories, the glamour of the old City Hotel - the book examines goodbyes, loves lost and lives found.
And it has made me cry almost every day writing it.
It's a more grown up book from me - definitely more serious in tone (but hopefully with the same warmth as before). Writing in 1959 has been a revelation but at times a tough task in terms of research - as I have wanted to make the book as authentic as possible.
I have found this the most challenging, and rewarding, writing experience of my life to date. The book has challenged me each and every time I have sat down to write and the characters, in particular Stella and Annabel, have become huge presences in my life.
I have immersed myself in the story so that I feel everything my characters feel - their emotions are my emotions. Happy or sad. It has been pretty intense.
I hope to write those magical words "The End" very soon and the book will, hopefully, be published by Poolbeg in September.