There has been very little work in progress since I last wrote because of a big change in our lives. We're leaving Manchester after living here very happily for 43 years - ever since we got married, in fact - for the very best of reasons. We want to live nearer our children and grandchildren and spend less time going up and down to see them on trains. So, we've bought a house in Cambridge, which is where one of our daughters lives with her husband and two of our grandchildren. Our other daughter and her husband and our third grandchild live in London. We're within easy reach of everyone in the new house and are very excited about the move, even though of course we'll miss Manchester and the friends we've made up here. Still, we intend to visit of course. There are, apart from the friends, matches to go to at Old Trafford for my husband and places like the Great Kathmandu Restaurant on Burton Road which is easily my favourite restaurant in the world.
As we're moving to a smaller house, we've had to start a serious de-cluttering exercise in every single department of our lives. The summer has seen us disposing of, recycling, selling, binning all sorts of things: books, clothes, ornaments and the contents of our cellar and attic. The main binning was of paper. It's hard to credit how much STUFF one accumulates over 27 years, which is the length of time we've been in our house. I threw away masses and masses of paper of one kind and another and the Seven Stories Museum kindly paid for a package weighing 35 lbs to be transported to my archive there. They will go through my clippings, reviews etc and decide what's worth keeping and I'm very grateful to them for taking that burden off my hands.
Moving has taken over my head in a big way and I'm finding it very hard to concentrate on any kind of imaginary world, but I hope normal service will be resumed from Cambridge in the near future.
We don't have a moving date yet, as we still have our own house here to sell, but it won't be long now, I don't think. Watch this space!
Manchester Metropolitan University's Children's Literature Conference in July was a great success. Mary Hoffman and I did an event about Historical Fiction for young adults and then Keith Gray, Kevin Brookes and I took part in a discussion chaired by Sherry Ashworth. Both events produced a very lively debate. The Geoffrey Manton building at the Met was heaving with children, parents, Doctor Who people and books. A very jolly atmosphere prevailed and after the events we all went off to the Midland Hotel for a wonderful tea, courtesy of the Met. This is the first such Children's Books festival it has hosted and it was such a success that I hope it is put on every year. Certainly everyone I spoke to about it enjoyed it enormously. It was good to see old friends like Mary Hoffman and to meet Kevin and Keith and also Cathy Cassidy who was up doing an event of her own. Thanks to Jeremy and Sherry and all who helped to organize the programme.
On September 18th, I'm speaking at a conference called Creative Writing for Medics at Chancellor's here in Manchester. I am really looking forward to this day, which promises to be most interesting. Mary Anderson, who's organizing it, was in the audience at the Manchester Met event described above and she and her committee have put together a really interesting programme of workshops and talks. I'm doing one of each.
On September 22nd, I'll be at Simply Books in Bramhall, my favourite independent bookshop and one which I'll really miss when I leave this part of the world. I'm on with my daughter, the novelist and poet Sophie Hannah and the event starts at 7.30 pm. It'll be fun. Events at Simply Books always are. Here is a link to their events page.
I shall be at the Appledore Festival on Sept 29th and 30th and I'll write about that next time. It looks as though I might at last be meeting the famous Dove Grey Reader, who's been one of my favourite book bloggers for years. Appledore is in Devon which is lovely part of the country, so a treat in store in every way. Here's their website and you'll find me under 'schools'.
On October 16th, whether I'm living in Cambridge by then or not, I'll be doing a workshop at a Readers' Day for the Pages Ago conference which celebrates Historical Fiction. The programme is here and again it looks a fascinating set of events for people to go to.
I shall write another newsletter once we're safely settled in Cambirdge.