Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Excerpt - The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan

Chapter 1

Weird. Definitely weird. There are lots of ‘weird’ things about my brother that are actually pretty normal for him – he likes to put Marmite on Pop-Tarts, he’s never seen Game of Thrones and, the thing that baffles people most, he is a knitting obsessive with his own yarn shop. But not replying to three texts and two emails in a row from me is super weird for JP. With not even seven minutes before my next meeting, I’m scratching the back of one leg with my new leopard-print loafers and firing off a quick text.

         Hey. You’re scaring me. OK?

Other siblings might talk more on the phone rather than just batting messages back and forth like ping-pong balls, but it works for me and JP. My full-on, frantic job means that spare time is usually only found in lifts or canteen queues or during a particularly dull budget forecast. And experience has only too painfully taught me that if you get JP on the phone and onto the wrong subject, your ear could be throbbing forty minutes later and you still wouldn’t have worked out why a customer buying sock yarn for a blanket pattern was quite so hilarious.
Nothing hits my inbox in reply. No JP is typing reassuringly whispering to me at the top of the screen. Weird. Really weird.
‘We’re up, Dee. Unless you’re too busy sexting your boyfriend?’ Ben Cooper appears at my office doorway. He has just as much experience in management consultancy as me – we graduated in the same year, his birthday is only a few months behind mine, for goodness’ sake (I’ve worked it out from the mandatory office cake celebrations) – but somehow he puts on the air of a total industry leader who begrudgingly gives me the time of day. And I never invited him to use my nickname – when it comes to work, I am Delilah. Only friends, family and non-nobheads get to call me Dee, thanks.
I’m working very hard not to roll my eyes. I catch the eyes of my assistant, Clive, who nods just a tiny nod to let me know that he’s just as irked. Clive is such a lifesaver in so many ways – not just helping with the mountains of projects we tackle but making sure I don’t forget family birthdays or overdue dentist trips. He’s a legend.
As I know Ben’s just itching to put me in an annoyed, harried mood before a big client meeting; I let out a long, calming breath. At the same level of seniority, we’re always looking to get one over on each other. Like the time he ‘offered’ to shadow me on the Shenwood project, as a ‘unique learning experience’, even though everyone knew there was nothing for him to learn there except new ways to wind me up. Not that I let that stop me working it like an absolute boss. And maybe I sent him to the wrong meeting room a few times along the way. Maybe. 
Which reminds me. A quick swipe of the screen. But still no reply from JP.
So I plaster on my work smile – not too big as to be fake and cheesy, not too small as to seem nervous or meek. And just smug enough to show Ben he is having no effect on me whatsoever. Ha!
‘Born ready, Cooper. Born ready. Can’t wait to catch up with Guy from TechBank. Did you know we play squash together? He said he won’t sleep at night until he finally wins a game.’
Ben’s sour expression tells me that my artfully placed throwaway comment has hit the mark – he doesn’t know how much overtime I’ve been putting into bonding with this huge new client. My mates, family and JP certainly know – they won’t stop grilling me for putting work first and everything else second – but I know that if I can make this client mine it will give me the most massive boost up the corporate ladder. And, not that I’m competitive at all, Ben can just scrabble around for a bottom rung in my dust.


With the meeting under way, posh coffees and pastries laid out by the brilliant Clive in our slick Canary Wharf office, I can feel myself leading more and more of the discussion points, and it feels good. There is a problem at TechBank’s Brussels branch – no worries I already have a flight booked for Monday morning. Staff in the investment teams in head office are unhappy that consultants have been coming in and telling them what to do – I’ve already engaged a party-planning firm to throw a top-of-the-line Vegas theme night at the end of the month. You can always distract the investment bankers with a good gamble… My boss Devon nods sagely as I talk the client through my action plan, as if he’s personally helped me devise the whole thing. Well, he personally held the door open for me this morning and that’s about as useful as he gets. I can’t hate Devon if I want to be Devon, I remind my inner grump, challenging the positive mantra of the business book on my bedside table.
Just as I’m expanding on how we’ll implement the next round of employment cuts, my phone vibrates on the glass table, sending a grumble of noise into the meeting. If it was my work phone I would ignore it, never wanting to show a client they are anything other than my every waking thought, but it’s my personal iPhone – and a cold twist in my stomach makes me turn it over and unlock the screen.

                     Can’t move. Arms. Not. Worry here. Come.

The breath catches in my throat as I grab at my things with clammy hands. ‘I’m so sorry, personal emergency, my brother… I have to go. Sorry!’ I call over my shoulder as I leg it for the door, Devon’s weary head shake and Ben’s wide eyes are the last things I see as the doors slam behind me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: 25th September 2017

Publisher: Canelo 

Book Blurb: Finding happiness one stitch at a time
When Dee Blackthorn’s brother, JP, breaks both wrists not only is he in need of a helping hand – or two – but the knitting shop he owns can’t function. Sisterly duties take Dee away from her demanding job and she is unceremoniously fired amidst rumours of inappropriate behaviour. Dee is certain that her hot-shot nemesis, Ben, is behind it all but has no proof.
When Dee bumps into an old friend who is new mum to a premature baby she convinces JP to enlist his knitting pals to make lots of tiny woolly hats. Then Ben turns up denying involvement in Dee’s sacking and she ropes him into helping the knitting cause.
But before long Dee’s good intentions backfire and she risks losing her friends, her family and Ben, who’s turned out to be not so bad after all…
A feel-good romantic comedy about learning what life is really all about, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Tilly Tennant and Carole Matthews.
Links to Book:
Author Bio:
Poppy Dolan is in her mid thirties and lives in Berkshire with her husband. She's a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There's More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She's currently working on her fourth novel – it's about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.
You can get in touch with Poppy on Twitter @poppydwriter and on Facebook at PoppyDolanBooks. She doesn't bite. Unless you are a dark chocolate digestive.

Author Social Media Links: 
Twitter: @PoppyDWriter

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