In early February 2012, I’d been trying (and failing) for years to write something worthy of publication. It was just one day before my 40th birthday, a milepost I had already decided would mark the end of my unsuccessful writing career. I had no idea what I was going to do instead, which was an utterly terrifying feeling. And then, out of the blue ether, came an offer from Russia to publish Black Chalk, which was a shock for two reasons: firstly, no one up to that point had wanted to publish the novel in English; and secondly, my agency hadn’t sent anything to Russia. It’s still something of a unknown how this happened.
Anyway, long story short, nearly four-and-a-half years later this finally arrived in the post and has been received with much gratitude as a token of the day when my writing career was mysteriously saved at the very last minute.