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Archive for the month “July, 2011”

A Tale of Two Book Launches

a pile of lovely books

My mum reading my book; my aunt looking serious
Last Thursday saw the London launch of my debut novel The Generation Game. It was an amazing evening, hosted by Red and Legend Press in Great Windmill Street, opposite The Windmill Theatre (where, appropriately, Sir Brucie started out on his long career).
It was really moving to have such special people there: family, university friends, old neighbours. And it was lovely to have Luke Bitmead’s mother there, Elaine, to join in the celebrations; without her son’s legacy I would not be holding a copy of my own book. Thank you, Luke, for caring about us struggling writers.  And how cool that Elaine’s good friend, Philippa (Pip), was there seeing as The Generation Game is all about another Philippa.

Elaine, me, Pip

It was a really friendly atmosphere, people chatting, cameras clicking, wine flowing, retro sweets to eat, 70s cheesy music (remember Manhattan Transfer?). Such fun.
Then it was time to sign some books and I realised I didn’t have a pen… somebody, I can’t remember who, shoved one in my hand – thank you. (You can see more photos on the link below.)
And then there was last night, the Devon launch at Torbay Books in Paignton. It was just as fun with loads of friends and family, fellow writers and book lovers.  I even managed to make a brief speech without notes or too much rambling. Though I forgot to bring a pen again… Thank you to all who came through the holiday traffic on such a scorcher of an evening. And thank you to Matthew and Sarah for being such good hosts.
Photos to follow.

The Short Story

BBC Radio 4 are due to cut their short story output from three stories a week (it was five) down to one. The BBC have been such a champion of the short story art form that this has surprised and disappointed many writers and listeners. The stories kept me going for years, as I sat day after day in my car waiting for my kids to dawdle out of school. It was a little pool of oasis in an often arid day of housewifery.


If you treasure the short story for the precious jewel it is, then please take a look at the Society of Authors and sign the petition to ask the BBC to reconsider its decision.

Competitions are still a great way to get your voice heard and have started many writers on their path to publication. But to have your voice heard on radio is very special, whether you are an established writer or an emerging one.

Come on BBC. You’ve played such an important part in my life: watching Saturday night telly as a kid with my family, listening with my brothers in the car to the Top Twenty as we drove back from my great aunt’s every Sunday, waiting for my kids, immersed in another world of the imagination.  You can do it!

Films of Books

Back along I put up a post on Songs about Books. With the final H.P. film opening tomorrow and my oldest right now in the charity shops of Teignmouth looking for an appropriate Potteresque oufit, I thought this would be a good time to blog about films adapted from books. Especially having watched the BBC adaptation of Sarah Water’s brilliant novel, The Night Watch on Tuesday evening. (Still on iplayer if you missed it.) I thought the one-off drama handled the backwards time frame brilliantly and, despite some changes to characters, it was faithful to the novel, capturing the immediacy and fragility of life and love in wartime.

One of my favourite recent books is One Day by David Nicholls, another novel with an unusual time frame as it follows its two main characters over two decades, with the action taking place on only one day, July 15th, throughout these years. A will-they-won’t-they story line but ultimately a beautiful, poignant love story with two memorable characters.

One Day is released at the end of August with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the lead roles and, having read interviews about the upcoming film, it seems both of them know how serious it is to get these characters right as they will be accountable to over one million readers. A heavy burden to carry.

Probably my favourite ever screen adaptation is Brideshead Revisited, not the film as there’s far too much to cover in two hours, but the Granada production of 1981. I missed it the first time round but when it was repeated throughout the summer of 1986, I was hooked. It was the perfect television series for me as I was waiting for my A level results and then waiting to go up to university – not Oxford, but Lancaster. The music, by Geoffrey Burgon, captured the essence of the novel and has stayed with me through the years as has the magnificent cast which included Olivier and Gielgud as the two fathers.

As the countdown begins in earnest to the launch of my debut novel The Generation Game, I can’t help but daydream as to who would play my main character, Philippa… But for now,  I will happily leave her to the reader’s imagination…

The Generation Game










Here it is! The cover of my debut novel, The Generation Game, published by Legend Press on 1st August. I’m really chuffed to have endorsements on the cover by novelists Katie Fforde and Maargaret Graham. Now the countdown begins, I’m full of excitement and nerves with the knowledge that people will finally be able to read this story.

Music of the Night






Had a fab night last night at our oldest’s school summer concert. He was playing ‘cello in the swingband and performing two duets of show tunes. We hadn’t heard him sing since he was a soprano so it was a surprise to hear his deep voice. And he and his fantastic, talented partner didn’t go for the obvious songs; they chose My Friends and Phantom of the Opera. He made a creepy Sweeney Todd and an even creepier Phantom. Quite surreal. It’s his last concert at the school before he leaves for sixth form college but I hope those two can do a repeat performance at some point in the future.










And then there was the Teignmouth Community Choir in conjunction with Ivybridge Community Choir singing jolly songs about science. I learnt all about Louis Braille and the invention of the internet amongst other things.

I love my town.

Ronald Reagan Statue Unveiled in London










Niagara Falls

I first visited Niagara when I was seventeen, back in the day, the summer of 85. I returned there for my fortieth with my husband and again two years ago with the kids. We’re going back to Canada again this summer but there’s no trip to Niagara as we are planning to go to Montreal and Ottawa (like Wills and Kate) as well as Toronto, and an idyllic lakeside cottage belonging to family cousins. I feel a little sad as it is such an awesome sight, even with all the tackiness tacked on to it.

I hear that tourism has dropped there leading to talk of bringing back the tightrope walkers that used to lure tourists in their droves before such dare-devil attempts were outlawed.

Would this tempt me back? Or the honeymooners? I’m not sure, but I would like to return in winter where the spectacle takes on another look entirely.

I have a chapter in my forthcoming novel (The Generation Game for those of you who haven’t heard me mention it) set in Canada where my characters do exactly this.

But for us it will be the heat of summer. Air-conditioning and cool showers. Lunch in the revolving restaurent of the CN Tower, breakfast at Cora, doughnuts and coffee at Tim Hortons, white-water rafting on the Ottawa River, shopping, swimming, chilling in the mountains. Even practising our French in Quebec. Can’t wait.

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