My Week: Gaynor Arnold, Orange Prize-nominated author

The author of 'Girl in a Blue Dress' explains how she balances her job at an adoption agency with a writing career


Monday


I'm in London staying with some friends, so when they go to work my husband and I go to the Van Dyck exhibition at Tate Britain. I think Van Dyck is a great portraitist – there is a terrific liveliness to his work. A lot of court portraiture can be rather dull but he's the best. In the evening I speak at a meeting for the Oxford University Society. It's a lovely social occasion and I address about 50 people who come to hear about my novel. It's nice to have an eager and inquisitive audience.



Tuesday

We head back to Birmingham in the morning. At home later on that day, Luke from Tindal Street Press rings me to tell me that my book, Girl in a Blue Dress, has been long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. It's a complete surprise because I didn't know when they were going to announce it and I wasn't expecting it, so it's wonderful. They say I must not tell anyone, but I tell my husband later. I don't think he's going to blab it to the world. He's been very supportive and has been so pleased for me, all the way through. We sip a glass of champagne or two to celebrate.



Wednesday

It's back to work today. I work for the adoption and fostering recruitment team in Birmingham, trying to get people involved, making sure they're the right people. I'm going to retire later on this year but I'm used to juggling my job and the writing. It's only on a week like this, and last year when I was long-listed for the Booker Prize, that things get a little crazy. When I arrive at the office everyone says that they've just read about the Orange Prize on their way in. Everyone's so excited for me. The day is spent in duty meetings, giving out information, and answering the telephones to people interested in adoption – interspersed with taking calls from the press.



Thursday

I did two house visits today in opposite ends of Birmingham, with people interested in adoption. You spend about three hours with them. When I arrived at the first place they said, "We don't often find a celebrity in the house", which I thought was very funny. Later on I go to my writers' group, which runs every other week. It's my turn to have my work discussed so everyone gives me some feedback on my piece.



Friday

I do radio and press interviews all day and even have a photographer come round to take some pictures. I have a "teleconference" with my American publisher about the US edition of my book. It's been a busy week with the announcement but I really don't expect to win. I haven't heard of some of the other writers on the list, but it's an honour to be on the same list as Toni Morrison. You can't get better than that. It's nice to metaphorically rub shoulders with a Nobel Prize winner.



Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup