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Great to be back drinking Melbourne’s fabulous coffee after two months on the road. Even Italy couldn’t match the delights of a cracking good Antipodean latte. And the coffee makers here are so good natured. In Florence I watched a waiter shoo away a client who had the cheek to ask for a chai latte…”What ees chai latte?!” he shouted in the bemused customer’s wake.

Jonah snubbed me for 24 hours after I returned home. After that he decided I’d had enough punishment and was back weaving around the legs of my desk, fixing me with those irresistible eyes and talking. Honestly, he must be a human trapped in a cat’s body. Whenever I talk to him he always answers back with an appropriate squeak, a meow or a sniff.

The family seem to have coped okay while we were away…Baby granddaughters are sprouting into gorgeous little girls. I had fun telling two year old Annie about Father Christmas the other day. Her eyes widened as I explained how the old man flies around the world with reindeer bringing presents to children….”But WHY?” she asked incredulous.

I couldn’t think what to say. There’s only one answer really. Love.

Friend James (whom I went to journalism school with when Elvis was in nappies) says he grew his (white!) hair and beard long last year to do the full-on Santa thing for his grandchildren. His Santa look wasn’t welcomed by the general public. Everywhere he went he was shunned as a vagrant and/or potential shop lifter. This year his face is shaved clean and his hair is short as a freshly mown lawn.

After all the speaking engagements and high glamour of recent months, I was looking forward to chill out time. But the new book has been nagging away at my subconscious, and yesterday I took part in the Inspired Writing panel at South Yarra Library. I was particularly nervous about this as the last time I was invited to speak at a library I completely forgot about it. I still cringe at the thought of the group of readers waiting anxiously at Phoenix Park Library thinking I’d died in a traffic accident. To avoid any recurrence, I left home an hour early, checked the calendar and my iPhone several times  – and walked to the library.

I always feel a sense of wonderment when people show up at these events. It’s incredibly kind of them to take an interest. There was a great turnout yesterday. And the cakes were good.

In the meantime, exciting developments are happening on the Cleo movie front. Sorry to say I’m sworn to secrecy, but you’ll be the first to know when I can say something.

And the March US release of Cats and Daughters is looming on the horizon. My US publishers are bubbling with enthusiasm. They gave the book a double page spread at the front of their catalogue. I’m looking forward to seeing the press kit they’ve just produced as well. It’s really exciting when a publisher moves into top gear like this. Fingers crossed we can build on Cleo’s success in the US and, like Cleo, swoop Cats and Daughters on to the New York Times Best Seller List.

Happy Christmas shopping. If you’re short of ideas, why not buy books?


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