It was a wonderful experience, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt a little embarrassed to be talking about myself quite so much, but I suppose (or hope, at least!) that is what the students were interested in hearing. And I was asked some interesting and perceptive questions, which, reassuringly, were about how I wrote Before I Go to Sleep, and what I did to get the most possible out of the course, rather than whether there was any money to be made from writing novels or what the secret is to getting a publishing deal. I don't know the answers to those questions (and rather suspect they don't have answers more helpful than 'yes and no' and 'writing a good book') whereas I could tell them where I got the idea for Before I Go to Sleep, whether I knew the ending before I started writing it and what time of the day I like to write ('an obituary', 'no', and 'any time, but mostly in the morning'). In any case, I think and hope it was a good time for the students to be hearing from someone who is still new to all this, who is still learning the business of publishing, and who was sat where they are just a few months ago. They are at the beginning of their course, and have a wonderful journey ahead of them, a wonderful opportunity to develop and grow as writers.
And hopefully to make some new friends too. In some ways it was a bittersweet experience for me, too (though more sweet than bitter, by far). I still miss my time on the course. I miss the routine of attending every Wednesday and one Saturday a month, I miss the excitement of wondering what I'll learn, and who I'll meet. But most of all I miss my gang, the other students , as well as Richard, our tutor. We bonded incredibly quickly and became (and remain) very very close. We all cared hugely about each other, and each other's work. We wanted the best for each other, and wanted to bring the best out of each other. It was lovely, in the pub after my session, to see that that kind of camaraderie is already developing in the current crop of students, but it made me miss my lot. Now we're scattered across the globe our friendship is no less strong, but it's an inescapable fact that the occasions when we are all together are going to be rare and much cherished.