Well, not quite but almost. For years, I believed the lie that writers tell when they say they type the final sentence of their book and then celebrate with a cold glass of champagne/pie from the fridge/bondage session/whatever. Then sit back and await the plaudits, literary festival invitations and the moment when friends say: ‘I haven’t got round to reading it yet but I hear it’s really good’. (My best one on this is a writer I know of very good, funny, poignant novels being told by a friend, ‘I was reading your book but I had to put it down.’ Why? ‘Because I was staying in a house where everyone was reading proper books, so I couldn’t be seen to be reading yours.’ Ah, yes, of course. Completely understand.)
So, while I am thrilled to have written THE END of The Downton Chronicles (published by Harper Collins, due out September 2012), I know that this is only the beginning of the end. Most of my chapters, due to the unusual time pressures this book is under, have been read by my editor and a copy editor, had the queries reverted to me and I have replied. But Julian (Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, the hit ITV series – and my uncle) has yet to read it; his wife is yet to read it (her opinion is very important); the producers have yet to read it… Anyone of them may yet say they don’t like something or need a bit rewritten. Then the design and layout needs to be completed (thankfully simpler than the last book) and another edit done. Proofs will be read several times. The publishing director may decide she wants another direction on one of the chapters, or that we need to feed in a new line of quotes from someone else on the production or that actually we like a character, having thought we didn’t. And so on. I am trying now to prepare myself for what will be a horrible struggle between the me that wants to sod it all now and have a holiday and the me that cares about the end result (thankfully, usually the one that wins).
In the meantime – not champagne but a cup of tea and a guilt-free hour on the sofa reading a book not for the purposes of research.