Sunday, 25 April 2010

Fool's Girl and Shakespeare's Birthday

Last Monday I was at a schools event at Crosby Civic Hall, organised by Tony Higginson of Pritchards in Formby, Merseyside. Here we are outside his great independent book shop, with The Fool's Girl just visible in the window behind us. This was my first big schools' event talking about Fool's Girl but the students who had come from different schools to listen to me were hugely welcoming and very enthusiastic. I signed lots of books afterwards and one boy told me he bought the book because he really liked the idea - just what authors like to hear!

Friday, 23rd April. A special day. It was Shakespeare's birthday and I was at the Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon, talking to students from King Edward Sixth Grammar School (Shakespeare's old school) and Stratford Girls' Grammar School, which is in Shottery, Anne Hathaway's village. I was in Shakespeare Central and when you are talking about a book which has Shakespeare as a character, you can't get much better. It was an excellent day all round. In the afternoon, I attended a lecture given by James Shapiro about his new book Contested Will: Who wrote Shakespeare? This time it was my turn to get my book signed.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The spirit of Feste is alive and well and was with me on Saturday. I encountered this street performer on the way to the Central Library to give my talk for the Cambridge Wordfest, and was careful to put money into his hat. I'm superstitious like that. To walk by would have been to court disaster. It was the first time that I'd really spoken about The Fool's Girl at length, more than giving a sneak peek of a work in progress, and I was anxious for it to go well. I needn't have worried. He must have been with me. My writer friends - Yvonne Coppard, Julia Jarman and Anne Rooney - had come along to support me and there were other people, too: some young, some older: readers, librarians, fellow writers. I read a bit, talked a bit, showed them some pictures and then they asked questions. It's always hard to know what people want to know about a book. What fascinates you, as the writer, might not necessarily interest other people. There's so much that you could say that it is hard to decide what to include. That is why I always try to leave plenty of time for questions. It is the most interesting part for me and I suspect for other people, so when a writer asks 'Any questions?', don't be shy.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Yesterday was publication day for The Fool's Girl . Easter Bank Holiday - a bit of an odd choice of day. I didn't do anything special to mark the book's entrance into the world. It is already 'out there' anyway, or as 'out there' as it is going to be. I did have a nice surprise, however, when I discovered a wonderful review on a web site
Rhiana Reads at This is an excellent site, with loads of reviews, comments and recommended reads. My fellow writer, Kath Langrish, has also posted a review and interview on her site Seven Miles of Steel Thistles . I'd like to thank these two and all the other bloggers who take the time and trouble to read and review books and share their opinions with others. It seems to me that this is the way to keep reading dynamic and vibrant. It means that readers can find books that they might otherwise miss, as well as getting the chance to say what they think. It is good for writers, too. We all want our work to be recognised. There is nothing worse than having a book published and for there to be absolutely no reaction. Now, thanks to the internet, that doesn't have to happen.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Message from the gods...

If they do come through, then they come in mysterious ways. On Tuesday, I was at the Society of Authors for a talk about blogging, given byRhiannon Lassiter and Mary Hoffman (seen here with me on the left - photo c/o Helena Pielichaty, who was chairing the meeting). The talk was entitled To Blog or Not to Blog - the worse thing you can do is to half do it - I was in the front row looking shifty. The message was encouraging rather than daunting and I went away feeling suitably chastised for having a blog and not keeping it up (or keeping it up fitfully and from the guilty looks about - I'm not alone in this) but also energised, determined to do better. Then I got a message from my publisher saying that they had nominated me for a blog award at: . My first reaction was, 'you've got to be joking!' there are real bloggers out there - like Mary and Rhiannon and Helena - go to their sites, look them up. They are proper bloggers - I'm not - but you can't be unnominated, apparently, so my next thought was maybe it is message from whoever the god of the internet may be (my money is on Hermes). A message to me to keep it up and now's a good time. I've got a book coming out on Monday and some visits lined up, so I should have something to blog about. Even if I stand no chance of winning (that's a given) at least I can have a go and take on board what Rhiannon and Mary taught me - blogging and following other people's blogs - can be fascinating fun.