‘Psst – wanna do something illegal?’

Truth told, Kathy Evans didn’t quite put it like that – but I did get the chance to go with her to the launch of Miriam Halahmy‘s ‘Illegal’ at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Portsmouth University . She mentioned it on Facebook and I blagged a lift – she is a delightful chauffeuse, I have to say (or I might have to go in the boot in future.)

As a writer, you don’t tend to get out a lot. It’s a solitary business – so a bit of human contact is good. Not only that but the outside world provides its own stimulus. Even a change of scenery can prompt better writing – and going anywhere near a place of learning – well…

There is more. I was glad to see Anita Loughrey and Amanda Lillywhite there – more SCBWI pals. Regular readers will know how much I value the fellowship that SCBWI offers. Not only do they understand the obsession you have, they share it too  – and encourage you in your lunacy. That’s some support network.

I hope Miriam felt suitably encouraged.

It isn’t just about the friendships, though. There is also a good chance of meeting agents and publishers at launches. You might build up other contacts such as publicists – and it does no harm to be seen.

However, it was when Miriam read the beginning of ‘Illegal’ that I found the most personal reason to be there. People from a fair old variety of decades and types stood and listened. They went  into that little world that Miriam had squashed inside the pages of her book. It wasn’t a world that I could make. It wasn’t marketed at the readers I write for – but the story still existed. And that’s what mattered to me – one day it could be me. People might want to enter my little worlds.

I need that hope to hang on to.

Thank you, Miriam and Kathy.

Brand New

or How to Get Noticed.

“…a prepossessing personality in an author is a great asset… “How to Get An Agent” by Philippa Milnes-Smith in  2010 A& C Black.

OK seems a good idea. I’d better get one. Let’s start off with interesting interests.

  1. Take up Belly Dancing like the  lovely Kathryn Evans. I suspect in my case the video would make people think of school blancmange and the little ditty beginning ‘Jelly on the plate…”
  2. Develop a musical talent – pace Jon Mayhew and his mandolin. I’m not sure three notes on the descant recorder’s really going to hack it on YouTube.
  3. Get clever with a puppet. Oh to work with the wonderful Woofy like Sue Eves. My poor old teddy has a squished nose where I used to stand on him to get at the book shelves. I don’t think he’s up to it.

Righto – how about developing a distinctive appearance?

  1. Grow a splendiferous beard like the lovely Mr Philip Ardagh. I do have the precedent of a fine hirsute lady relative but I lack the gravitas to pull it off, I fear.
  2. Sport magnificent and intriguing tattoos such as embellish Saviour Pirotta. Perhaps not. I never even liked peeling off the backing on the transfers as a child  – and it took me till I was 21 to get my ears pierced. Once.
  3. Become an all-round style icon like Sarah McIntyre of the Funky Glasses. Touch tricky for an unconstructed hippy, although I am quite good at dressing up. That’s if you count making a small tot cry when dressed up as a witch or having my picture labelled as a hobbit in the local paper when I thought I was Arwen Evenstar.

What about me? Perhaps I need to have a remarkable background.

  1.  Start at an interesting point in your life. Catherine Webb was only14 when first published ( I’m not sure that the ‘A Wet Windy Day in Wakefield’ featured in the Wakefield Express at 11 counts) and Mary Wesley started at 71.  I am 49 – ‘neither nowt nor summat ‘- as they say where I come from.
  2. Come from an intriguing culture. Candy Gourlay, that  fascinating Filipina, uses hers wonderfully in’ Tall Story’. Miriam Halahmy (what a cool name) has an Iraqi husband and all manner of family to call upon. Me – Wakefield in the Rhubarb Triangle of Yorkshire. Not the same, is it?

Oh dear. Perhaps I could hide behind other enticements?

  1. Bring out marketing goodies – let me see – a plush cuddly Giant Moray Eel? A wind-up Dave the Disastrous Diver: guaranteed to ruin any bathtime? Model of the Sinai Emperor – watch as it breaks up and sinks! Just not going to go with a Happy Meal.
  2. Feature really cool concepts. Oh dear,  I can’t nick off with  Sarwat Chadda’s kick-ass heroines and Templars or Nick Cross’s zombies. They wouldn’t all fit on my dive boat. Certainly not together.
  3. Promote Important Messages. Somehow “Don’t steal Ancient Egyptian artefacts, it will all end in tears” hasn’t got the moral integrityand pithyness of say The Lorax. Maybe ‘Be nice to fishes’. I could wear a badge. A very big badge.

I give up. I’ll just have to take a leaf out of all these brilliant people’s books  – and just write really, really well. And be myself.