With Hilary Mantel’s latest book due in the spring, and all those New Year Resolutions about writing, and re-writing, more, this blog of mine from 2015 seemed worth re-visiting.  Maggie.


You’re at the kitchen table, drooping over yet another rejected story. In her basket, Ruby, the cocker spaniel, looks expectant, head twitching and nose up. Then the door bell rings. She must have sensed a visitor. Anyway, she’s at the door ahead of you.

‘Hi, Ruby! I’ve come, as promised.’

The visitor sweeps past you into the kitchen while you remain, frozen, on the doormat. It is Hilary bloody Mantel, isn’t it? Are you going to scream? Faint? Wake up from a dream? And how does this world-renowned woman know your dog?

By now Hilary’s in the kitchen. She picks up your crumpled story, unearths a pencil from her bag, and starts scribbling all over it. ‘Just make me a coffee,’ she says, giving Ruby an absent-minded pat. ‘Instant will be fine, but make it strong.’

You’re in a trance as you boil the kettle. This wonderful writer is sitting…

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