Well, I’ve typed the words ‘The End’ typed at the bottom of a page of my adult novel, but of course it’s only a kind of beginning. The first draft is done but the real work starts here. Still, it won’t take me too long, now that I know the shape of what’s there to be dealt with.
Other news: DIDO came out in paperback at the end of April and two bloggers have reviewed it very kindly.
Sarah’s Reviews posted a poem of mine about our beloved late cat, as well as a review and the link to that poem is here and to the Dido review is here. A blog called The Bookette had a whole Adèle Geras week and that was fun. I’ve never had a week devoted to me before. The link to her site is here
There was also a good review in NEWBOOKS mag.
The St Hilda’s Day at the Oxford Festival was wonderful. It was great to meet up with Victoria Hislop and Anita Mason for our event, chaired by Nicolette Jones. This went very well, I think. It was also fun spending time with other Hildabeests, like Bettany Hughes, Gaynor Arnold,Juliet McKenna, and many more. Christ Church is a very beautiful college and my room in Blue Boar quad was comfortable and had a splendid view too. We had dinner at St Hilda’s by candlelight and that was a very good end to the day and a most delicious meal. Many thanks to Nicolette and Monica Popa and everyone involved. I’m posting photos here to give you a flavour of the day.
In April, the Festival of Writing at York University was a really fantastic couple of days. I did two workshops there, one on women’s fiction and one on crossover fiction and also had about six 1-to-1 sessions with new writers which were very enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of all the work I read. The University of York has a lake and swans and ducks were wandering around all over the campus. This was delightful to see and there were even birds sleeping on the grass outside my overnight accomodation. Highlights of the weekend included Katie Fforde’s top ten tips for writers (all hugely sensible and delivered in her wonderfully humorous and warm style) and talks by all kinds of fascinating people such as Simon Trewin, the agent and Barry Cunningham of Chicken House. He’s famous for having discovered J. K Rowling but he too was very informative about the state of children’s books today. It was also a pleasure to meet other writers, most notably Emma Darwin, whose books I’ve enjoyed and Debi Alper . They both have wonderful blogs and the links are: Emma Darwin and Debi Alper. If you to their archives for April 10th/11th you’ll find much fuller and better accounts of the weekend than I’ve given. But many thanks to Harry Bingham, Tommy, Jez and all the others who organized it. The link to the Festival Website is here. I do recommend next year’s Festival to any aspiring writers out there.
Here are a couple of photos I took while at York.
The deliberations of the Lancashire Book of the Year panel are over and the winner has been chosen. It’s BANG BANG YOU’RE DEAD by Narinder Dhami. (Corgi pbk) The Gala Dinner at UCLAN and the presentation of the prize happen on June 25/6th and I will take some photos of both events.
The Lancashire panel was shadowed by a group of adults and we voted for our favourite book about a month before the real judges. Our winner was GRASS by Cathy McPhail. (Bloomsbury pbk)
The Letterbox Club is an admirable organization which distributes packages of books to individual children who are in foster care. This is their website.
I was part of a lovely party at Monks Hall Primary School in Crewe to launch yet another branch. Here’s a picture of me with some of the ladies involved in the occasion.
I read a story of mine to the children, who came after the school day had finished, with their foster carers, and ate cake and sandwiches and had a really good time. Thanks very much to Sandra Evans, Helen Campbell, Karen Dutton and the staff at Monks Hall School who made it such an enjoyable afternoon for the children and for me.
On May 17th, Linda Newbery and I were at Latymer Prep School on the banks of the river Thames in Hammersmith, London. We spoke to the children about our Historical House books and everyone was sorry that Ann Turnbull, who wrote two of the books in the series, couldn’t be there. After lunch, we each did a workshop with a class of children who were charming, polite, enthusiastic and eager to learn. During the session, who should come into my class but the writer Tabitha Suzuma. Linda and I both know Tabitha very well but we had no idea she was a teacher at the school, so much laughter and exclamation went on. The weather was good and the sun was shining, so we walked to the Underground along the riverbank and met up later for coffee with Jon Appleton, a very good friend of ours who used also to be Linda’s editor while he was at Orion Children’s Books. We sat outside the British Library in the sun and had good chat before I had to leave them and go for my train. It was a really wonderful day, and thanks to Nell and Asha, the two Latymer girls who liked the Historical House books enough to get their teacher Mr Pugh, to invite us to the school. Thanks also to Lone Turnbull, the excellent school librarian, to Mr Pugh himself and to Amy Dobson at Usborne for arranging the whole trip.