On Thursday night I was at the Crime Thriller Awards Dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London and a very surreal experience it was too. I'd spent a lovely day with two talented young people: Bryony Moss, who lives in Alnwick and is a final year design student at De Montfort University and Becky Plunkett, whom I've sponsored as an intern at Pan Macmillan. Bryony had designed and made a dress for me to wear at the dinner - silk printed with watery colours and a seaweed motif to represent both Northumberland and Shetland - and Becky had come to meet us both and to help shop for shoes and a bag. (I really, really hate shopping, but with their help the process was almost painless).
Then there I was, following Benedict Cumberbatch past a row of press photographers and catching glimpses in the crowd of lots of other famous actors. Definitely star-struck! There were friendly faces too. Lots of people from Pan Macmillan were there to make me feel more comfortable and my wonderful agent Sara Menguc sat next to me. Murder Squad chum Cath Staincliffe was with Transworld to support the Scott and Bailey team and fellow nominee Stuart MacBride, who'd cheated somewhat on the dress code, was at the next table. And one of my favourite actors, Alun Armstrong, gave me a hug and asked me to send his love to Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera.
The Bestseller Dagger went to huge bestseller Kathy Reichs, which was probably as it should be, but all the shortlisted bestsellers were inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I got my two minutes of glory walking up to the stage to collect my award from Bradley Walsh. I had caused some disquiet, because we hadn't been told the running order in advance and I'd disappeared to the loo just before the nomination was announced, but I was back at the table in time to hear Val McDermid and Brenda say lovely things about the character of Vera. And then I was clutching my big perspex award and thinking that I wasn't sure that it would fit in the suitcase and it would be very heavy to carry home on the train. Though of course I was very proud of it.
Now I'm back in foggy Tyneside and that evening seems to be a bit of a dream. There's still lots to look forward to. I'm hoping to have my new Vera novel ready to send to my agent soon and next week I'm going on set to watch the filming of the second episode of the 3rd series of VERA. And before Christmas the two part drama SHETLAND will be broadcast. More about that next time.