It's my birthday today but far from celebrating I woke up cringing. You know that sinking feeling that falls over you when you realize you've let someone down? Well, I'd let myself down badly today. Last year at this time I made a solemn promise that I'd write THE NOVEL before my next birthday. Did I do that? No.
I sat up in bed, hoping to find some ray of sunshine in what promised to be a very dark day. Okay, I did manage to sell a couple of short stories during the year but that feels like very small potatoes indeed compared to THE NOVEL. Would there be any point in making the same promise for next year, given my advanced age? No. Probably best if I simply give the whole thing up as a bad job, I decided, throwing back the covers. But wait a minute, what about Mary Wesley? I drew my feet back under the covers. Mary was nothing if not a late bloomer. She published her first adult novel at 71, and then went on to write a bestseller a year for the next ten years. The Chamomile Lawn, written in her mid-seventies, was turned into a hugely popular TV mini-series.
Feeling a little better now, I spotted a book on the very top of my teetering bedside TBR pile. Ah hah! The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. Bradley won the 2007 Debut Dagger award with his first Flavia de Luce mystery when he was seventy. And far from resting on his considerable laurels, Bradley has a list of half a dozen new titles on his website.
How about PD James? I was on a roll now. Baroness James is ninety and although she often threatens to stop writing crime novels, I'll believe that when I see it.
There must be other late bloomers who could give me hope. Can you think of any?
Sue Pike has published nineteen stories and won several awards including an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story. Her latest, Where the Snow Lay Dinted will appear in the January issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
Sue and her husband and an opinionated Australian Shepherd named Cooper spend the winter months in Ottawa and the rest of the time at a mysterious cottage on the Rideau Lakes.