It was a difficult book to write in many ways. My deadline was end of June, and by Christmas I'd struggled to get 20,000 words written down. Then there was Christmas and New Year and, well, not much got written. I picked it up again in mid-January and then I had a phone call. My father had gone to see his GP, rather against his will but my mother insisted, the GP thought it would be a good idea to run some tests, and the quickest way of getting them done was to admit him to hospital straight away. My father didn't want to go - after all, he felt fine - but he could see the logic so off he went to hospital.
The tests didn't go the right way. He stayed in hospital. As he was virtually blind, he needed someone to help him so my mother stayed to support him, and I stayed to support her. Three days later we were told he had terminal cancer. He went back home a few days later. My mother, my sister and myself operated an informal shift system so one of us was with him all the time. I had the day shift. He was slipping in and out of consciousness at this time, so I tried to get some work done when I could, but every moment he was awake was precious. (If you were on the Bristol Diploma a couple of years ago, sorry for the terrible handwriting on your assessments.)
He died on Valentine's Day 2009. It had taken 16 days from that visit to the GP. We were all in shock - he hadn't been ill, he hadn't shown any signs. And I stopped writing. I couldn't. I nothing to give.
I warned my editor who was sympathetic. February went by, then March and April. In May I realised I was running out of time. I picked up the 20,000 words and thought - what rubbish. Then I thought about the contract I'd signed. My dad was always a man of his word. So I wrote Kissing Mr Wrong in two months, delivering the manuscript at 11.58pm on the last day of June.
My lovely editor at Headline gave me a couple of months to do the re-write, and Kissing Mr Wrong came out just a couple of weeks behind schedule.
And here it is, shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year. It makes me cry because, you know, he would have been so proud.