Diamonds are a girl's best friend
It was wonderful to find out a little while ago that I'd been awarded the CWA's Diamond Dagger. This is a very special award given for a lifetime's achievement, and presented by the community of crime-writers to which I've belonged from the beginning. The presentation will take place at a dinner in October. Just because it's for a lifetime's achievement, that doesn't mean that my career's over! I'm busier than ever and still writing and I can't imagine a different way of life. But it's a huge honour and I'm very grateful to the CWA committee and membership who suggested I should receive it.
This year marks another great milestone - our 40th wedding anniversary. When I married Tim, I had the sense that our life together would never be boring and that's certainly turned out to be the case. We've lived in some wonderful places and made some terrific friends and he's supported me throughout my writing. Our family has grown - we now have six grandchildren - and our daughters have become fierce and compassionate women. So we needed something out of the ordinary to celebrate 40 years together. We decided on a trip to Tanzania. I'd been there before to visit the school where Ruth my youngest daughter stayed on a student exchange, but it would be a new country for Tim.
I loved every minute and my head's full of images that I'll remember for ever. There was the night we stayed at a tented lodge on the edge of the Serengeti. There was a thunder storm and lightning flashed around the plains and in the morning there were the tracks of lion and buffalo outside the reception building. We saw all the big animals - lion, cheetah, leopard, hippo and rhino - and migrating herds of wildebeest that were a spectacle in themselves. Groups of elephant, giraffe and zebra came so close to our vehicle that we could see every detail, and on one magic afternoon we saw African hunting dogs - and that's a creature so rare that the friend who arranged the trip had never seen them before though this was his 25th visit to the country. I'll remember the Tanzanian friends we made too - Martin the bird expert and Moses and Vincent who shared their knowledge with such generosity and looked after us so well.
Arriving back in the UK it was an immediate return to earth with Aye Write in Glasgow and the Bothy Book Festival in Portsoy. Thanks to Alex Gray and her husband for their hospitality and for driving me right across Scotland. Then yesterday I was at the London Book Fair, catching up with lots of overseas publishers and agents. Now, after all those jaunts, I need to write. There's a Shetland novel to get back to. Look out for a Tanzanian short story, though. It's called Moses and The Locked Tent Mystery and it'll appear in the CrimeFest anthology.