It’s been busy busy busy since my last post. March just went pachooo and April is looking like it’ll do the same.
I’ve shared my ‘Inheritance Books’ on the 4 o’clock Show on Radio 4 Extra, which was so much fun, I want to do it again. I’ve been interviewed and appeared in The Jewish Chronicle; I’ve talked to Years 4, 5 and 6 at a school in Chelmsford and then to three schools in three different libraries in Haringey, each to 50 children, where we cooked up ideas for story writing.
Seeing as that wasn’t quite busy enough for me, I also gave a talk on Mindfulness for JOFA, and repeated it a week later.
Of course, what I’m really trying to do in between all that is write my next book but I’m not getting very far because every five minutes I either have to take someone somewhere, pick someone up, take someone for an appointment, fill in, scan and send forms, go to the bank, shop, cook, clean, fix and then of course there are BIG holidays coming up that require BIG amounts of time and effort. Oh, and I’ve got a new job starting at the end of April because I also have to feed my children.
The best news has to be that today, just today, I heard that Amber has been sold to France!
Rêve, Amber, Rêve.
Vive La France, that’s all I can say. So now it’ll be in German, Turkish, Italian and French, and possibly Dutch too (Alsjeblieft koop mijn boek, Nederland). I’m not sure if that means ‘Please buy my book, Holland’ but that’s what it’s meant to say. I’m still holding out for the USA but I’m very happy with progress so far.
Let’s hope April is a tiny weeny bit less busy so I can write.
Who am I kidding?
My book is out in the big wide world. Look! It is! Really! I’ve seen it.
I haven’t seen it everywhere, mind. Which makes me want to slip copies into random places and see what happens. Like the coffee shop in the House of Lords, on the table at the G8 Summit, into the pocket of one of Madonna’s children, or to Barak Obama (who grew up without a dad so he’d get it). But I’ve refrained. Mainly because I can’t get near any of those people or places, not out of any sense of decorum.
Last week, was World Book Day so I visited Campsbourne School to meet and talk to both of the Year 4 classes and met lovely authors, Helen Piercy and Conrad Mason while I was there. It was great fun: no one did any school work and all the teachers and students were dressed up. One boy had a particularly interesting costume. ‘He’s dressed as a carrier bag,’ his friend told me. And sure enough, he had a carrier bag around his middle. I felt perfectly comfortable after meeting him to talk about my weird life and about story writing. I was a bit scared that Thing 1 and Thing 2 would chase me around the classroom and the deadly-looking doctor would try to cut out my liver but I got out of there alive.
I had a family party to celebrate my book coming out, and that was SOOO NICE. The sun even shone. And I have a date for Radio 4! Thursday 27th March at 4pm – listen to the 4 o’clock show. I’ll be on it! HOW COOL IS THAT?
This week, I’m working on my next book. This means I have hundreds of pieces of paper all around me with scribbles on them as I decide what’s going to happen, and to whom, and where, and why. Maybe if I just glue them all together, no one will notice and I’ll just go ta daaaaaaahh! My new book! And then go on holiday for a few months to somewhere warm.
Oh me, oh my. Finally, finally, this week has finally arrived. And it’s arrived with a bang, a wallop, a whoop and an eek.
A bang because the week started with a trip to the BBC to record ‘Inheritance Books’ for the 4 o’Clock Show on Radio 4, and that was GREAT. I loved it. Despite being so nervous I nearly squeezed the tops of my fingers off (that was my strategy for keeping calm and focusing while I did the recording. My poor fingers.) I was tickled by the whole buzz of being in there and now I want to be a radio presenter or permanent studio guest (hint hint BBC) and am now thinking of devious ways of making that come true…
A wallop because it’s WORLD BOOK DAY on Thursday, so this week is all about books books books. If you somehow missed that, you need a wallop around the head with a big book to WAKE UP. THWACK.
That’s better. Now wash your face and go and buy a book. Preferably mine.
A whoop because Dream on, Amber made it into National Geographic Kids magazine NGK0414whatsup.v5 which might not seem very whoopy to you, but it is to me. It’s whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop WHOOP, if you must know. ESPECIALLY because it’s National Geographic Magazine because I LOVE that mag and I’m a world traveller and explorer so it’s made me so happy to feature in it.
And an eek because there are three Polish painters, all called Martin (actually it’s more like Marzchzkyjzynn, which can’t pronounce so they make it easy for me) making chaos in my house – the furniture from three rooms is in the middle of the dining room, covered with dust sheets; it smells of paint and silicone sealer. I can’t even get a glass of water and I really don’t need this right now when I have all my family coming on Sunday to eat and drink and some are even sleeping here from America and Italy. I’m breathing deeply and trying not to freak out.
It’s not working.
So yes – on THURSDAY, THIS THURSDAY, THIS VERY ONE Dream on, Amber is being published, but all those lovely people who pre-ordered it have received it already through the post. And they’re not the only ones: a group of very cool readers from the LOVE READING website have written reviews, which you can read here and I thank them for their lovely comments. Even the one who said my book was boring because at least she said it in a nice way. Getting reviews from real readers makes me so happy (hint hint). Yes, that means you.
It’s WORLD BOOK WEEK! How cool is that?
Nearly there! Nearly!
Look at me, counting down and getting all excited and everything but it’s just dawned on me that I have no idea what’s actually going to happen the day DREAM ON, AMBER comes out. It might not be very exciting. It might even be a bit of an anti-climax. It’ll be a Thursday, two weeks today (!!) and it’s WORLD BOOK DAY, which is such an amazing coincidence, it surely can’t be a coincidence. I wonder if Chicken House did that on purpose. I must ask.
For most people it’ll be a regular school day in March. To make sure it’s not just another boring old day, I’m planning a few surprises:
1) I’ll book a marching band so I’ll wake up to trumpet blasts and people stomping around my bed wearing red uniforms with shiny buttons on.
2) A truckload of fireworks will go off as I get up, even though it’ll be morning and you won’t be able to see them. If I can’t get fireworks, something loud and zappy will do, like a 21 gun salute.
3) A thousand red balloons will simultaneously be let off around my house and The Red Arrows will spell ‘Dream on, Amber’ in the sky.
4) I’ll dress in gorgeous new clothes that I’ll buy beforehand – no wait, I’ll be GIVEN beforehand, and I’ll wear for the first time that day. Along with new boots (also gifts). And I’ll feel great.
5) The Queen will send me a letter of congratulations. And David Cameron.
6) I’ll come downstairs and eat smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, cooked by Jamie Oliver, who might find my kitchen a bit small. And he’ll buy a copy of Amber for EACH of his daughters, and all of their friends.
7) There’ll be street parties and it’ll be a national holiday. And the sun will shine but properly, with heat behind it.
8) All the books will sell out and we’ll have to print thousands more. And have parties while we’re waiting.
I hope someone is making a note of all this. You only have two weeks, designers, to send me those new clothes.
It’s been a busy week. Writing a book is only one part of the process: the stay-at-home-alone-with-a-laptop-and drink-tea part. But then you have to get out there and promote it, meet people, get on trains with a bag of your books and sell your services. You feel a bit like a door-to-door salesperson selling Encyclopaedia Brittanica or double glazing, which is not my dream job. But it’s my book, and I believe in it. So out I went.
Last week, I went to Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End and organised an event for Father’s Day, which falls during the Crouch End Festival this year. Doing a reading and interactive event on Father’s Day fits well with Dream on, Amber because what do children with no fathers do on Father’s Day? How do they feel? I think that’s worth exploring.
This week, I visited the beautiful Tales on Moon Lane bookshop to introduce myself and organise an event for October half term. I also bought some good books, one called ‘Saffy’s Angel’ by Hilary McKay I especially recommend. I love the parts where Caddy is driving and Rose gets involved (near the end: I can’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it) and the Casson family is so familiar to me, coming from a family of not very organised artists.
Then I meandered down the road to Dulwich Books, where I said another hello and bought another book. I felt ashamed that I buy my books from Amazon, because there are beautiful independent bookshops that organise literature weeks and all kinds of community events, have readings, liaise with schools, promote authors and their books, have reading groups, and the people who work in them are so knowledgeable: they can recommend and advise on all kinds of things. ‘Have you got any books on…?’ I asked. ‘Yes, there’s this one about…and this one that’s more…’ Basically, BOOKSHOPS RULE. I am 100% in support of them and want to buy all my books from them from now on. And I think YOU should too.
The rest of the week, I sent emails, organised events in schools, spoke to librarians and thought of people I could add to the already quite extensive mailing list who would like or benefit from my book. Then I got tired and lay in bed reading. Which is another good part of being a writer. You can lie in bed and read and when the little voice in your head tells you to go out and about again, you can shout, ‘I’M RESEARCHING!’ and turn another page.