Picture this. It’s October 2020 and I am putting the finishing touches to papers for an arbitration (arbitration is a kind of private form of litigation) to enable me to submit them, after six months’ work. They have to be sent in digitally, signed and dated, correctly labelled, in the right order and with the right attachments.
But the arbitration has over-run by ten days. Based on the original timeframe, I had accepted a three-month assignment with a major law firm, in their ‘investigations team’, to help write an urgent report. The IT training (two sessions, both virtual) begins this morning.
My new book, the latest in the Burton & Lamb legal thriller series, The Rapunzel Act, is due to be published in April 2021 which, of course, is months away. And I’m feeling smug and confident because I submitted the final draft back in August. But a ping in my inbox heralds the return of the manuscript, complete with a series of ‘can you check this is precisely what you mean?’ kind of questions from my very thorough copy editor.
And a second ping provides a design for the front cover, together with a request for me to now focus on the back cover blurb. Of course, this is all a sign of great progress, hugely exciting and I want to spend time wallowing in what it signals; my book is poised to make its own way out into the world. But, in terms of my current priority list, regrettably, it has to be down at (at least) number three.
Then there’s some personal stuff which I will gloss over ‘at a high level’ as lawyers like to say. (I have an unwritten agreement with my three sons, that I don’t write about them without their permission – you can tell they are the children of lawyers). Suffice it to say that it involves varying degrees of counselling associated with how ‘unfair’ life is, with which most parents of teenagers will be familiar and a promise to make something extra nice for dinner.
A sudden phone call and I may have to drop everything and fly overseas to deal with a family health emergency. I wait to hear if I can be exempt from Covid-19 restrictions to allow me to do so.
This sequence of events is at the extreme end of how life moves chez Silver. (Naturally, I save the best anecdotes for my readers. And please don’t worry, everything was all right in the end). For the last six years, since I gave up a permanent position in a London law firm, and chose, instead, to write novels about topical issues close to my heart and pick up fixed term legal contracts in between, I have generally managed to compartmentalise, to allow me to devote sufficient time to writing, the law, family and friends; aka to juggle. And the benefits have far outweighed the drawbacks.
Writing, whilst immensely rewarding and curiously compelling, is a solitary pastime, necessitating hours and days and weeks of focus, alone and with minimum interruption. And whilst I would never write about any confidential aspects of my legal work (although colleagues frequently ask me if they might find a place in a future story!) being out in the world and interacting with real people, in challenging situations, certainly feeds my writing. It goes without saying, then, that I wouldn’t change a thing.
One of the most celebrated juggling acts in the world is The Flying Karamazov brothers. I am reliably informed that one of their tricks involves a cleaver, a torch, a salt shaker, a ukulele, a frying pan, an egg, a fish, a block of dry ice and a bottle of champagne. By the end of their trick, whilst keeping everything constantly in motion, they have filleted, seasoned and cooked the fish in the egg and drunk the champagne, with musical accompaniment. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. That sounds to me like a pretty ordinary night at home!
The Rapunzel Act is published by Eye and Lightning Books in paperback original on 15 April 2021 and available in digital version here: http://amzn.to/3axesuL and for pre-order here The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver | Eye Books (eye-books.com) Not sure if you want to include my website www.abisilver.co.uk or any of my social media contacts. I am (4) Abi Silver, Author | Facebook and Abi Silver (@abisilver16) / Twitter