Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Orion Author Party and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Wow. Sitting on the sofa this morning suffering only slightly from an over indulgence of champagne and star struckedness (not a word but describes my state last night).

Katherine Webb's and Julia Silk's fabulous shoes.
This is Nina Douglas' picture
First I only took one photo...I was too busy people watching. There were around a thousand people mixing around the dinosaur skeleton in the Natural History Museum. By luck I found my agent, Carole Blake, who knew everyone and was even mentioned in the speech by Ian Rankin. He was lovely when I met latter and chatted about how he never shows anyone his first drafts because they are terrible and filled with things...go and get some lunch...I can't remember this character's name. I was really good to know  that the gods write sh*tty first drafts too.

Julia Silk took this photo of Essie Fox and me
I spied Julian Fellows in the crowd. Spoke with Francesca Simon about her visit to the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature last year and Anthony Horowitz joined in the conversation saying what a great festival it is. I caught up with friends...Essie Fox, Kate Harrison, Veronica Henry, Ruth Saberton, Jean Fullerton, Nina Douglas, Erica James, Shelley Harris, Kate Mosse, Liz Thompson and JW Ironmonger.

I met more agents last night than I knew existed...

It was an amazing evening...after an amazing afternoon which was a private screening of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Between the author party and the screening I wondered if I had dropped into someone else's life....

Veronica Henry, Anne Seba and Paul Torday
The private cinema was straight out of a film set with red leather seats and a screen bigger than the one in the Flroa Cinema in Helston....and it was all for me, well, me and about twenty other people. I hadn't read the book so didn't know what to expect (DH had read the book and he loved it). Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is now top on my TBR.

Erica James and Paul Torday
Without ruining the film...it was delightful and I loved it. I couldn't imagine how Ewan McGregor could play a geek but it does so beautifully and believably. Emily Blunt is perfect. I found myself laughing through most of the it. It's a film that lifted me like the The Kings Speech did...it just has that wonderful feel good factor. Joy is the word that comes to mind.

Paul Torday, Anne Sebba and moi (not sure who is the man in the background)
I was a bit better taking pictures of the screening...What was the last film that made you smile?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dreaded Question - What's your Favourite Book?

As I mentioned yesterday, I was interviewed for radio about the upcoming Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature...which was scary enough in itself but then the lovely Lucy asked me...what's your favourite book???

How can I answer that? It can vary from day to day or from period in my life....how do you define favourite book? The one that lives in your head and that you escape to during quiet or stressful moments? The one that has altered your world perspective? The one with the hero you never forgot? The one with the heroine you always wanted to be? The one that took to you to a place you always wanted to go? The one where you learned so much it hurt?

Put on the spot (yes, I know I should have anticipated this question) I answer Katherine by Anya Seaton and Leo the African by Amin Maaloof. And they are two of my favourite books...but there are so many more for all of the reasons above.

I could have said...The Daughter of Lir by Diana Norman or Constance:A Story of Early Plymouth by Patricia Clapp (note to self - must find a copy of this for DD) or Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, or Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant...the list could go on and on...

What are your favourite books and why?

And because I think it's one of the best first lines ever...from Leo the African...

'I, Hassan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia.'

Note: will be running a contest for free tickets to my session...(description session here) - First Fictions at the Emirates Festival of Literature. Details to follow...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reading and Books Set in Cornwall

First I'm not sure if I've posted this before but it's certainly worthy doing so again. Over on Read_Warbler's blog, she has a wonderful list of books set in Cornwall here.

And this leads me on to reading of which I have been doing a fair bit- both novels and research. I tend not to read novels or more correctly more recent ones when I am writing a first draft for fear that the writer's voice or style will creep into my head and then into my work. However when I'm rewriting/editing it's different....so recently I have read some fabulous books - THE SOMNAMBULIST by Essie Fox, JUBILEE by Shelley Harris, HARNESSING PEACOCKS by Mary Wesley and a book I won't name. I won't name it because I didn't like it. I made me angry. I found the writing sloppy and the head hoping annoying and plot trite. It held me back on other books for a long time. I could only take about ten pages at a time and at one point I threw the book out of the bath and across the room. Yes, it made me that mad...

Now I know you are wondering what book and what writer but I won't say...you are also wondering why I persevered???? Well, this book has sold in the shed loads as have all this writer's books. I felt there must be something to learn from it aside from how not to head hop....

Let me jump away for a second...because in Harnessing Peacocks there is some head hopping but it didn't upset me - the changes were pretty well signalled without me having to go back a reread the paragraph to find out which head I was in...so let's just say that it was head hopping well done, but when rating the book on Goodreads I gave it a 4 even though I loved the story....

So I found myself wondering does head hopping bother most readers? Do they notice? Is it just a thing that pisses off writers like me? I have tried to remember my reading days pre-writing to see if I can remember if it upset me or pulled me out of the story....and I can't.

Let me just say...I love books with multiple points of view, but not in the same scene... or page but definitely not in the same paragraph....but I may be alone in this. Also I found it frustrating investing energy in minor characters whose head I was in for maybe three scenes then they were never heard from again (there has to be another way to get that information to the reader in my opinion)....enough said...

Now, I had to stop reading another book recently but not because it was bad...in fact it was the exact opposite....just too good and written in first person and that's what I'm trying to rewrite August Rock in so I'm afraid I will try and copy the excellence and fail....I will tell you this book though - Julie Cohen's THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. It will have a wait a bit more until I am sure of my voice in the first person...

On a final note...I was interviewed for radio here in Dubai regarding the upcoming Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature...and they asked my most feared question which I'll blog about tomorrow.

Oh and it's so exciting...on Monday evening I'm going to the Orion author party!!!! Will try and take pictures to share...just not sure what I'm going to wear yet and oh, what shoes to wear.....

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Raw Beauty

This morning we went on a desert drive in the Liwa area which is south of Abu Dhabi near the Saudi border. This place sits at the beginning of the Empty Quarter and some 700,000 sq kilometres of desert...I can't even think that big.

What a can think about is raw beauty. Pristine. Soul lifting. As we careened up and over dunes and across sabkhas (salt flats) we were the only intrusion on the landscape. So many times I have been in the desert and seen human detritus marring it's beauty, but at least here man leaves nothing but a few tire tracks...

There are three types of sand in this part of the desert...white from sea shells, red from iron oxide and black from carbon, Each one shading the dunes as if an artist had spent hours highlighting the undulations. As we stood and watched the wind spun the sands creating new patterns...in the distance the sand look smooth but up close the sand separated into waving lines and ridges....underneath a sand stone of sorts that crumbles in your fingers yet carries the weight of dunnes as high as 300 or 400 metres.......

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Another Step on the Road to Publication of The Cornish House

The Cornish House proofs on an Emirates flight to Dubai
On Monday I collected the final proofs for checking...gulp. The Cornish House will go into production soon and come the other side a real book.

It's a weird moment filled with excitement and dread. Why dread? It's the fear I referred to the other day. That it's not good enough. It's also strange to begin reading the book again. I haven't done any more than give the first few pages of the bound uncorrected proof copy more than a glance. So in truth I haven't read The Cornish House since I went through the copy edited version back in October/November. This is good as I should come to the book with fresh eyes....

I'll let you know how I feel about the book when I've finished this step...and I'll be blogging shortly about how it feels for people to be reading the book and some of the feedback I've received. Most worrying though is DS2 took a proof copy to read...not sure what a 17 yr old will make of it or more correctly what my 17 yr old son will make of it....most worrying really.