It is my pleasure to introduce, Annette Purdey Pugh, one of Honno’s most recently published authors. Annette will be joining us at the first Honno Authors Book Fair, scheduled to take place in Narberth on Saturday 7 May.

New to publishing and book fairs, I asked Annette to share her thoughts about publishing her first book during lockdown. We look forward to meeting her in person, and welcoming her to her first book fair.

Over to you, Annette!
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My book’s journey towards publication follows almost exactly the course of the first lockdown. Having finally finished my first ever novel, I posted fifty pages to Honno in autumn, 2019. I had no great expectations of the work, but I had been told that Honno were willing to read unsolicited manuscripts, and their website was encouraging. They got back to me in April 2020, with a request for the complete novel, and in August I received the good news that they were offering to publish it. My meeting for coffee with my editor, Lindsay Ashford, in September, was the first time I had ventured into a restaurant for more than six months.

Apart from necessary visits to the supermarket, I went out very little during that autumn. It was an ideal time for editing my novel. My daughter came to stay at half-term and helped by taking some ‘author photos’ as well as an image of Llanerchaeron, which my son doctored to look several times larger so that it could stand in for Rosings. The book – A Murder at Rosings – was finally published in June 2021.

Being such a new author, I didn’t know what to expect after publication, and am still not sure how different the experience would have been without Covid and its repercussions. There was no book launch or bookshop visits, though I did enjoy reading the reviews produced by the blog tour, courtesy of Random Things Tours, and our community newspaper, Y Ddolen, printed a lovely article about me. A kind neighbour did offer to arrange an informal barbecue/promotion event locally later on in the summer when, we hoped, the pandemic would be all but over. In the event, of course, this didn’t happen.

On a day-to-day basis, the lockdown made little difference to life on the farm. Our lambs were born as usual, though without the usual help from family members at Easter, and with more complaining from us. It was a bit more difficult to buy seeds for the garden, and contractors had to make do with tea and sandwiches in the barn instead of round the kitchen table. My husband was unable to go to choir practices (but found the time to build me a greenhouse!). Supermarket visits were reduced to once a fortnight, and the occasional chat with a neighbour, met while walking, had to take place with the width of the lane between us. Sadly, for two years running, the National Eisteddfod – local to us for the first time in years – was cancelled. I continued to write.

Now that restrictions are lifting, I’m still not sure what to expect of the future. The Honno Book Fair in May will be the first such event I have ever attended, whether as writer or reader. Unknown territory, though I’m looking forward to meeting fellow authors, as well as the lovely people from Honno whom I have so far only met remotely.

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Follow Annette on Twitter: twitter.com/apurdeypugh