W11 Children’s Opera plan to swim again in Deep Waters with a new production in 2014. Melodic and comic, the work’s underlying theme of over-fishing is just as relevant now as when first commissioned for the Millennium. Young people have inherited the problem. Good for them to fight back by raising public awareness in this way!
Here it is. My new website has finally happened. Welcome, and thanks to so many of you for your patience and your messages. Procrastination is the enemy! Or mine, anyway. And I’ll admit to slight terror at putting things about myself down in black and white, ON THE WEB WHERE EVERYONE CAN SEE. We writers can be a shy lot, hiding behind our characters. Yet, we write in order to speak to you, the reader, to try to tell the truth. So, welcome again to our conversation. Let me know what you think of my new site.
Just back from spending most of August in Edinburgh at the Festival, all at the Fringe this year. I saw 46 shows and can remember most of them. Stand-outs included Blam! at the Pleasance. It’s coming to London for a short run later this year. A glorious night out. See it! And I enjoyed the low-key comic James Acaster, who seems to be having a deserved surge in popularity.
P.S. I had a wonderful time at the reading group. Intelligent, probing questions that made me think. And our hostess put on the 17th century farthingale petticoat and bodice I took with me.
I’ve been secretly working for most of the spring on a novel for young adults, Fur Beneath the Skin and delivered it to my agent at the beginning of August, two days before leaving for Edinburgh. It’s about being different, feeling different, sometimes without knowing why. A group of young 17th century outsiders are in danger because of their differences. Among them are a real werewolf and a real changeling – not fantasy ones (and I think I’ve uncovered what they might really be). Then they fall into the hands of a doctor of science who wants to dissect them alive to learn how they are different from ordinary people. But they also have real special powers that did, and still do today, go with their ‘specialness’.
‘…today, we would call in the social services or the police….’ ‘It might be someone you know. It might be you.’
Before I say more, I’d like to know what you think of the title. Is it intriguing? Would you pick it up in a shop or library? The itch of the ideas in this book would not go away, and the business of my adult historical novel, Quicksilver [described under ‘Books], felt unfinished and too important to drop. The story is still historical but crosses the boundary with fantasy, except that in my book, the magic is real – like the supposed werewolf. As always, I’ve fallen in love with my main characters, Rafe and Kat, and hope to get a commission for a sequel so that I won’t have to say ‘good-bye’ to them just yet. Or to any of the others.
Your thoughts on the title, please!
My Royal Literary Fund fellowship at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, has been renewed for a second year of helping people write better and seeing students’ confidence growing with each tutorial session. The work feels both valuable and necessary. Several students have told me in tutorial that they felt stupid, when the truth was that they had simply never been taught the rules of grammar or certain techniques of literary writing. And we have remedied that lack fairly easily. I could weep at the numbers of young people who never get a chance to test their true potential and give up. My experience so far has radicalised me on the subject of education.
I put up a sign* outside my office:
Look at that huge, hot dog. Look at that huge hot dog. I joke that a misplaced comma could start a war. It can certainly change what you mean.
Punctuation and grammar are not about complicated rules: they’re about taking control of a powerful tool and making it work for you.
The nitty-gritty of grammar and punctuation is part of a writer’s craft. And a source of power. It’s not enough in itself, but it certainly helps.
I’ll get off my soapbox now…
*with thanks to Lynne Truss