Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Urgent adjustment required

OK. OK. I've seen this coming for some time ... My blogging is totally out of control. I'm sure I remember saying this before - several times. Didn't I once do a comment somewhere - 'My name's Debi ... and I'm a blogger ...'?

They say admitting to your addiction is the vital first step. But I admitted ages ago! How do I get to take the next step?

Discipline, of course. Now where do I get that from? Any offers?

This is the problem. It's got to the point (to be honest I arrived there some time ago) where my writing fits in round my blogging rather than vice versa. This is Not Good.

There are some good discussions on Skint and Pundy on the perennial why-we-blog issue. It's so good to communicate. I love the opinions, the stimulation, the meeting of minds, the cut and thrust of intelligent debate, the howls of laughter at my fellow bloggers' wit ... And then there's the creative process ... And the thought that it matters to get your voice out there ... and that maybe that next link could be the one to change your life ...

See? Hopeless addiction ...

BUT - I need to write this next book. It used to be the case that my work in progress would sit on my shoulder. I would be communing with it at all times whether bashing out words onto a page or not. Now it's all you lot sitting on my shoulder and the book is jumping up and down behind you, shouting 'Oy! Alper! What about me???'

So - here's yet another attempt to change those priorities so that the blog fits into the writing and not the other way round.

* I'll spend one full day a week dedicated to blog-surfing
* But I'll post whenever I feel the need to mouth off
* Other days I'll respond to comments on mine but stay away from the full blogroll

I'm under no illusions. It's gonna be hard. Very hard ...

I'll ... er start next week after Minx's launch ... Or maybe the week after ...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Is a small gig a giglet?

Following the successful gig in June with the Dulwich reading group, I've been invited for a follow up in Rotherhithe.

Today Southwark ... tomorrow ... who knows? Maybe even ... Lambeth! Ooooh ...

Anyway details are:

7.00-8.30pm Thurs 9 Nov at Rotherhithe Library.
Address is Albion Street, SE16 7HY.
The Library is situated in Albion Street between the Norwegian Church (with the green steeple) and the Finnish Church.
There’s parking space outside and also lots of public transport options. Bermondsey Tube (Jubilee Line) is less than 10 minutes walk away. Rotherhithe Tube Station (East London Line) is 5 minutes away. Buses stopping at the big roundabout by the entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel include the 47 and 381 to London Bridge and the 188 and C10 to Elephant and Castle.

If any of you can make it, you just KNOW I'll be delighted to see you!

Incidentally, remember that link to the libraries? You can go in and enter an area and see how many of your books are in stock/out on loan etc.

Well ... for the last few weeks every copy of both my books have been out in Southwark! What a blast!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yubba dubba doo!

ere we go ere we go ere we go ...

And if you can't make the launch (for which you'd better have a very good excuse ...) you can always go here to order copies of Coven of One as well as Skint's books.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Buddy Blooger's Blogered

What's going on now? Is that you, Leo? If I find out who's responsible for these shenanigans I shall be very cross indeed. I may even write you a letter telling you how cross I am. Then you'll be sorry ...

* Sidebar's back. End of good news.

* Can't comment on my own blog.

* Can't even access comments by usual route.

This simply won't do. I was going to mention on the me ... me ... thingy that I also have different coloured eyes. I'm not going to tell you now. So there!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Who's stolen my sidebar? Come on, own up. I'm going to go away now and when I come back I expect to see my sidebar back in its usual place and then no one will get into trouble.

Otherwise you'll all be kept in after class. For ever ...

This meme really IS Me… Me …

It started with Sharon. As so many things do … Then Gentleman Oracle zapped me …

Sharon has set up her very own meme and has asked for the following to be copied and pasted into the responses:

Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)

A few years ago I would have found this really hard. I didn’t like revealing too much of myself. But then I got the deal and found out I was part of the package. And since I publish under my own name, I’ve given up on the idea of anonymity …

On my website there’s a lot of personal stuff that I really agonised over including, but there it is. It feels like there’s not an awful lot more … But here goes ...

5 things about me that are not generally known:

• I talk backwards fluently

• I’ve been bombed by the US

• We once spent a whole day dressing up and acting out the Fellowship of the Ring in front of the video

• When I was 19/20, I spent a year drinking the equivalent of 30 shorts a day

• I spent a total of 9 years either pregnant (including 2 miscarriages) or breastfeeding

And now I tag Minx, Confucious, Skint, Pundy and Clare.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Testing ... testing ...

The wonderful Techy Mate visited on Saturday. She congratulated me on some bits (my anti-virus/spyware legions and update/scanning procedures) and rapped my knuckles on others (insufficient backing up, opening links in emails, saving book drafts to desktop).

She showed me how to cope with spam.

She also showed me how to get pix up here.

So would you like to see me on the slide?

Cancel EVERYthing!

What have you got planned for the evening of 31st October? Cancel it!

As if the launch of Minx's book wasn't enough to persuade you to get yourself to Cardiff that day, the wonderful Skint is organising a Blogmoot!

Literary Blogmoot
and Festival

Tuesday October 31st, 2006


7pm - Launch of Coven of One

Waterstone’s, Cardiff

* * * * * * * * * *

8.30pm Blogmoot

at Chapter Arts Centre

Market Road, Canton, Cardiff.

* * * * * * * * * *


Guest speakers


and easy access to Chapter’s bar

sponsored by

Bloggers and publishers bring your own books

contact Skint for arrangements

I've booked a coach ticket for £8 return. I'm on my way ...

All together now:

I'll - be there ... to love and cherish you-hoo-hoo ...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jimi never had a capo ...

First Born and Little Guy did really well in school last year so my dad gave them £20 each as a reward. We popped down to Argos where FB bought a CD Walkman and LG chose a guitar.

With no idea even how to hold his instrument, LG started to strum. He maintained his enthusiasm and seemd to show genuine aptitude.

There's no way we could afford private lessons, so when we heard the school was offering free guitar tuition we were the first to put his name down.

He was blown away to hear he'd been accepted! I spoke to the guitar tutor and told him how excited we were given our financial situation and what a wonderful opportunity this was for LG.

Then he brought home the confirmation letter.

I am pleased to inform you that your child has been chosen to begin guitar lessons ...

Brill! I read on ...

A good quality beginner guitar will cost between £80 and £110+ ...

I gasped. Then read on ...

I know that this may seem a lot but quite frankly a cheap Argos guitar is just not worth having ...

My stomach lurched. I read on ...

Other requirements are:
* a gig bag or a padded case with straps to carry the guitar on your shoulders
* a footstool
* a capo
* music manuscript
* a music bag to keep everything together

What??? Maybe he wouldn't need all those things. I read on ...

These you will need even if your shild uses a school guitar! Could make them Xmas stocking fillers!

Well, let me make a couple of points to you, My Guitar Tutor. It's obviously escaped your attention that you teach in a culturally diverse school where not every child celebrates Xmas. And that there will anyway be many children whose stockings - if they have them - are unlikely to contain items costing that sort of money. And wouldn't they have to be mighty BIG stockings anyway?

It's the same lack of thought that results in the children bringing home projects like 'Find a nice shady corner in your garden ...' Er, excuse me. Garden???

It would be easy to launch headlong into parental guilt at not being able to give LG these things. Or I could be angry at the gross lack of sensitivity ...

You probably know me well enough by now to guess which way I'm headed ...

So then I thought about Jimi Hendrix. Born into poverty ... given his first guitar, costing $5, aged 16 ... never had a lesson in his life ...

How ever did he manage without a capo???

Thursday, October 12, 2006

News from Spain

Remember the post about the Spanish translation of Trading Tatiana?

Well, I've heard from Orion. Apparently the Spanish publishers have rearranged their schedule and it's now due to be published in January 2007.

So now we know ... Though I'm not holding my breath ...

There's good stuff in the city too ...

Yesterday, OF (Oldest Friend) and I went to Tate Modern to play on the slides. 5 metal and perspex structures, the smallest being the height of one floor and the largest spanning 5 floors.

Think 80' of the steepest flume at the pool or the highest helter skelter at the funfair. Bung in sharp bends, precipitous drops and stomach-churning rolls. Then multiply by 100!

The rules are simple. You have to be at least 1.4 metres tall. You have to lie down, fold your arms over your chest and keep your head raised. There are elbow pads available for the cautious.

'Nah,' I thought, checking out who was pulling on the pads. 'They're just for wussies!'

That was my first mistake, more than evident on the first sharp bend. The second was forgetting to raise my head. The tubes are banded by a series of metal belts and over each is a raised bump. It was like being dragged down stairs by your ankles, your head bouncing on each step. Very very fast. In fact you hear people screaming as they plummet earthwards. Not AAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHH, but AGH, AGH, AGH, AGH, AGH ...

I was spewed out the other end and shot across the mat like Jonah being gobbed from the whale's belly, my legs rubbery, head spinning and elbow throbbing.

So if this sounds like fun and you'd like to go, this is my advice:

* wear the pads
* bring a supply of arnica
* go to the toilet first

Would I do it again? Bring it on!

Oh, and is it art? Well, to quote Rhett Butler (and this is the only time I'm likely to quote a redneck, fully paid up member of the KKK - you didn't know that about Gone With the Wind? Ah well, not this post ...)
'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!'

What a riiiiiide ....

Just another day in the urban heartland ...

In the comments responding to the violence debate, Joan gave us a quote from the English philosopher, Edmund Burke:
'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.'

First Born came home yesterday with a story no parent wants to hear. He was with a large group of friends waiting at the bus stop after school. Another friend, A, was coming to join them but when A was about 10 yards from the stop, he was approached by 3 older boys. They grabbed his bag. They went through his pockets. They jostled and pushed him.

This post is not about them. It's not even so much about poor A. It's about FB and his friends because they could see it all as it unfolded.

'C'mon,' FB urged. 'We have to help him. There's loads of us and only 3 of them!'

Not a single one of these other children moved.
'We don't want to get involved,' they said. 'We don't want to be targetted ourselves.'

FB has heard what what can happen to have-a-go heroes. He knew better than to go out on a limb and be the only one to intervene. He recognised that, without the support of the others, he was powerless.

A was lucky. A passing motorist stopped, yelled at the attackers and they scarpered. FB ran over to his friend to comfort and support him.

He was upset and confused when he arrived home. He not only felt sorry for A and was freaked at witnessing a violent incident. He also felt huge frustration at his friends' lack of response and guilty that he hadn't intervened himself, though he knows he had no choice under the circumstances. Hard lessons for an 11 year old!

'I kept saying to them,' he told us, 'What if it was you? What if you were attacked and a bunch of your friends were standing nearby just watching?'

A was shaken but not physically hurt. Today he will have reported the attack to the head who has a zero tolerance policy for such behaviour. The assailants will be dealt with.

But as I said, they're not the ones I want to talk about this time. I'll tell you what I've come to see. That fear is our biggest enemy.

There will always be kids - and adults - like those assailants. Whether you believe they're products of their backgrounds, or that society is to blame, or whether you believe they are simply inherently evil, is not the subject of this particular post.

This time, it's about those who, through fear, didn't intervene. Even though the risk of having the tables turned on them was minimal, those boys were paralysed by fear. The concept of there being strength in numbers didn't come into play. They were just kids. And they were scared.

It's a familiar fear to adults too - those people who Confucious describes as being afraid to walk alone through a park.

Fear shuts down our responses. We feel adrift in a hostile world, besieged by violence and evil. It makes us herd together and haul up the drawbridge. It's the other side of the same coin that Clare describes as the 'pack instinct'. As a result, we tend to mix only with people who we feel are 'like us' and think 'like us'. And once we succumb to that, those we perceive as being different - outside our pack - become a kind of braying amorphous mass. We invest them with near-mythical powers. They're out to get us. And they're everywhere.

We don't see their faces. We have no communication with them. We've effectively dehumanised them. They're just 'out there', lying in wait for anyone who sticks their head above the parapet.

It's an understandable reaction to inner city life but it's a hideous way to feel. And it gets us nowhere. It's a dead end.

So how do we break out of it? How do we learn how to empower ourselves (and our children if we have them) to know the right time for an appropriate and positive collective response? Because if we're going to live in big cities, whether through choice or lack of it, we have to find an alternative to either being paralysed with fear or forming mindless vigilante groups.

I do believe blogging can help, because in the blogosphere we meet people we'd never otherwise encounter. People outside our pack. We can exchange ideas and join debates which, under other circumstances, we wouldn't be exposed to.

Do I hear you say we're just a disparate bunch of individuals? But if there are enough bunches doing what we're doing - around the country, around the world ...

And that ultimately is the lesson for FB's friends. Together we are powerful. Together we can change the world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

MORE ... on violence

Did you think it was all over?

Just wanted to point you all in the direction of the comments to the 2nd post on the violence debate initiated by the assault on G last week.

The friend I quoted, and with whom many of you took major issue, has now replied at length and I didn't want you to miss it.

Incidentally, I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. Having read all the responses in this debate, G said that he now believes that's why this thing had to happen to him - so that the discussion could take place. Bless!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Me ... Me ... on Feminism

Can you believe it? They've done it again! This time it's Sharon and Marie who simultaneously zapped me. Don't they know I have a book to write???

Many of you have already done this and done it so well, I thought I'd subvert it just a little (though not in the way that Minx did).

So here's 5 things I was told while growing up - post-suffragette and pre-feminism:

Never win
'I beat him at tennis and he went into such a strop!'
'You beat him? Don't you know you should always let him win?'
'What? But I was better than him!'
'Of course. And you know that. But you must never let him know ...'

Be content with the scraps
'Always eat the leftovers yourself and cook something fresh for everyone else.'

Keeping your man
'So many women make the mistake of letting themselves go after they're married. Don't they realise that getting your man is only half the battle? You must never stop making an effort with your appearance if you want to keep him.'

A goddess in the kitchen, a whore in the bedroom
'A woman can be anything: wage earner, home maker, DIY enthusiast, driver, leader, follower, cook, nurse, cleaner, therapist ...'
'Yes I can. But I can also choose to be some or none of the above ...'

Safeguard his image
'A man pushing a pram or carrying shopping just looks wrong.'

And a vital 6th one:
Iron everything.
'Iron nothing!'

Now, who to tag? Let's go for Dirty Christian Socialist Cow, Fiction Bitch and Meloney Lemon (who doesn't have a blog but can reply in comments.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Poetry competition

One for the poets out there - the Cardiff International Poetry Competition.

First prize - £5000.
My commission - a bar of Belgian chocolate.

What are you waiting for? Go here for details.

Me ...Me ... on music

That Sharon. What is she like? She's only gone and tagged me even though she knows my infinite capacity for displacement activity ...

And as if that's not bad enough, Gentleman Oracle has gone and followed suit.

I bow to the pressure - here goes:

Bob Dylan - Forever Young.
I listen to it and think of my children and wish my words to them were as beautiful.
I listen to it and think of myself and hope I never grow up.
I listen to it and think of my dad - who never has.

Bob Marley - almost anything by the prophet, but if pushed I'd go for Redemption Song.
The last song on the last album. No big production. No rousing chorus. Just Bob - his voice, his wisdom and an accoustic guitar. His last message to the world.

Patti Smith - Because the Night Belongs to ...
She's my icon. I saw her live last year (thanks to Meloney Lemon who once commented on this blog) and was blown away. We used to sing this in the 70s on Reclaim the Night marches, substituting 'women' for 'lovers'.

Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Haunting lyrics from the man who never forgot his roots. And as for Clarence Clemens soaring sax ...

Third World - 96 degrees in the shade.
Sunny day music with a message. And cos I was blowed over by their exuberance when I saw them perform at Sunsplash a thousand years ago.

Dennis Brown - Judge Not.
Wise words indeed.

Lou Reed et al - Perfect Day.
Always moves me.

Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot.
A more-than-close friend had a near-death experience recently following a heart attack. But she wasn't accompanied on her journey from this world by her deceased loved ones.
'I was in the tunnel!' she told me. 'With - the Kaiser Chiefs!'
She reckons the reason's prosaic - that they were the last thing she heard on the radio.
I like to think there's an alternative explanation. That she had a glimpse of the Other Side. No harps, no wings ... It's gonna be a riot!

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Desecration Smile.
Because it will always remind me of this summer.

Sister Sledge - We are Family.
Because we are! I'll dedicate this one to my blog family.

Now who do I zap?
Minx cos I know she's done something like this before so she can just do a cut and paste job.
Skint (who also hates these things - sorry!) cos I'd be interested to know.
And Island Monkey cos he's been toooo quiet. (Bet he doesn't do it!)

Sad but true!

Check out this excellent article on the realities of the publishing industry. (Thanks to Fiction Bitch for this link.)

A useful follow up to some of our previous debates on the subject. And so true! I genuinely believe you're better off trying to get a first novel published - at which point you still have the potential to be The Next Best Thing - than subsequent ones. Unless, of course, you hit the jackpot first time round.

Which is as likely as - er - hitting the jackpot first time you buy a ticket ...

But don't let that put you off. Please! Someone's got to win it and it could be you!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Opening up the debate on the kicking episode

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who responded with sympathy and support re the assault on G. I’m pleased to report that, thanks to lashings of arnica and sympathy, he’s fine now.

I’m opening up a new post because I think this is really important and I don’t want the arguments to dwindle off into the hinterland of the comments section.

As well as the above-mentioned comments, I also received an email from a friend. She’s a retired probation officer with a heart the size of a planet and a keen intellect to match. She emailed rather than commenting because she was afraid of offending me. Far from it and, to prove the point, I’m reproducing the text of her email here with her permission.

But Debi, Debi, ah Debi, please don't use words like 'dregs' (oh please). That's tabloid, Tory, lazy, thinking (Good. Bad. Black. White. Fuck the complexity). You're not a tabloid thinker, I know how generally aware and compassionate you are (more so than me on many issues) and I was distressed to hear you say 'dregs'. There's no such thing as dregs. They're people with all sorts of forces, personal, social, political working on them to make them, finally, behave in this appalling way. Which is a million miles from me wanting to pat them on the head and say 'there, there, you're a victim of a wicked world, here have a sweet and a cuddle' (that's tabloidism again). If I had those lads in front of me now I'd be giving them a very hard time indeed. But, but...

I feel I want to throw Tim's mantra at you "Don't not know. Know. Be conscious. Only if you're conscious..." Don't be perplexed. You're politically sophisticated and intelligent. You can work it out. You can see that those lads, deprived, poorly educated, probably jobless, media soaked, hopeless about their future, look at Greg, big, manly, fit, (I saw him) living the good life (as they perceive it), everything they're not, having everything they don't have and never will (they think). You can feel the envy, the rage, the need to taunt the need to assert themselves. And then, when Greg just ignored them (which was right and brave and I don't know how he did that) and they couldn't keep up with him and they knew that he really was stronger and faster and better than them, the need to lash out, the increase in rage, the need to assert something. It was dreadful behaviour and I hope somebody will teach them to deal with their problems in a different way. But it's not perplexing. And they're not dregs.

She’s absolutely right. My angry and dismissive use of the word ‘dregs’ to describe the men who abused and assaulted G was lazy and – yes – ignorant. In its own way, as ignorant as they were, but with less excuse.

Do I mind having this lapse pointed out to me? Absolutely not! I WANT this space to be used to provoke debate. It’s why I often phrase things as questions rather than steaming in with my own line. If we don’t discuss the issues, how else can we learn and grow?

Understanding why people resort to senseless violence is certainly not the same as condoning it. Taking a step back and seeing where such behaviour comes from instead of resorting to dismissing the perpetrators as ‘dregs’ isn’t liberal and wet. It’s the only way forward if we are to break out of the cycle of violence, fear and overflowing prisons.

So NOW what do you think??? Please feel free to respond. And I hope my friend will have the confidence to comment too and join the debate in this forum, knowing that my mind is open and I won’t be offended, but will be grateful for her (and your) contribution.

The continuous exchange if ideas is crucial if we’re to understand our world and hopefully change it for the better.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Short story competition

There's just no stopping that Skint! No sooner has he finished the huge work of dealing with publishing the Minx gem, than he's off again ...

Click here to see his short story competition on the theme of spirituality.

Yours truly has been asked to be on the panel. Possibly the only time I'll be called a judge as opposed to facing one ...

Blogs, reviews and all that stuff

Check this out from the scarily-titled National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors (twitch).

It's an interesting angle and one in which the ever-wonderful Frank Wilson of Books, Inq contributes customary words of wisdom ...

How some people get their kicks ...

G's a running man. He runs between 6 and 15 miles a day, 6 days a week. As he has insulin-dependant diabetes, regular exercise is part of his be-fit-live-longer masterplan.

He's 6'4" and, though skinny as the proverbial rake, you wouldn't want to mess with him. (Which is actually an illusion - he's a pussy cat. Whereas I may be a foot shorter but am far more scary!)

Anyway, yesterday he was out running through Greenwich in his lunch break when 3 guys started taunting him. It happens - don't ask me why. Only these particular dregs sprinted to run alongside him. And when they didn't get any response to their abuse, one of them kicked him. Hard. Being G, he didn't so much as stumble. He carried on running and very soon they were unable to keep up with him.

So now he has a large swelling on his thigh and a nasty gash where the boot caught him (he was wearing shorts).

Now - and this is a genuine question - can someone tell me what those guys got out of that???

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Revealing my inner anorak

Many many moons ago, a friend told me about a woman she worked with.

'You're not gonna believe this,' she said. 'She files her clothes! She's got her whole wardrobe colour-coded! Says it helps her find what she wants, co-ordinate her 'look' and she can always find the empty hanger. How sad is that???'

'Blimey,' I said outwardly.

'Blimey,' I said inwardly. 'What a brilliant idea!'

I went home and rearranged my wardrobe and it's stayed that way ever since.

I like creating a semblance of order, especially at times I feel things are slipping beyond my control. October has always been a difficult month for me and the time of my greatest sorrows.

So excuse me. I'm off now to sort my blogroll into alphabetical order ...

The Battle of Cable Street

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. I remember my mum telling me her story of that amazing day ... How her family forbade her to go, but she (ever the rebel) sneaked out anyway. Her eyes shone with pride as she told me how she watched from the street corner as the dockers swarmed like the cavalry to join the Jews, united in their determination to stop Mosley's fascists marching through the East End.

They shall not pass, was the slogan. And they succeeded! It was the unprecedented solidarity between disparate communities that made victory possible. So often we allow our perceived differences to divide us, blinding us to our common cause.

On that day, 70 years ago, everyone saw the truth in the statement, 'Together we are powerful!'

A book you can't read ...

It's here! The first novel you can't hold in your hands. Sex on Legs, by Brian Luff, is not available in printed form. Instead you can download it here and then upload it to an iPod or mobile. Total playing time is just under 6 hours.

We've been here before, discussing the future of the printed word, and most of us are convinced there will always be a place for Real Books - at least we seem to be unanimous in hoping so ...

So whaddya think? Is this a 'good thing', opening up writing to an otherwise non-reading audience? Or is it the beginning of a new age, heralding the demise of the written word?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A good deed in a naughty world

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. (Thanks to Crimeficreader for reminding us!)

Does everyone already know about the Breast Cancer site? You click the box daily to fund free mammograms. From there you can also link to the Rainforest site, the Hunger site, Child Health site, Literacy site ...

It takes seconds and costs nothing, so unless anyone can think of a good reason not to, why wouldn't everyone do this? I go to one site, click 'fund free ...', click back and then go through the links to the others.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

This time last year ...

This time last year ...

* I didn't have a website

* I didn't have this blog

* I hadn't linked up with all of you

* I hadn't met Maxine, Sharon and Minx

* I was finishing off Me, John and a Bomb

* I hadn't yet started Depth Charge

* I was still expecting Trading Tatiana to come out as a mass market paperback

* FB was still in primary school preparing for his SATS

* We were frantically checking out secondary schools

* A & D were still in Italy

* My dad was rushed into hospital

* G was still working at the pool mentioned here

* I was still on sabbatical

This time next year?

Nobody tells me nuffink!

Remember the post about Trading Tatiana being translated into Spanish? The deal was apparently negotiated last September, but I didn't find out about it until this June when Orion contacted me wanting to know if a photo of me taken by G could be used on the Spanish edition and in the brochure.

I asked for the publication date and was told it would be this September. So I've been checking the website of the Spanish publisher and ... it's not there!

I emailed Orion a few weeks ago to ask what's happening. They got back to me to say they would check. I emailed again a few days ago and was told they've received no reply as yet but would check with the sub-agent. I've had no direct contact with any of these people but, hey, I only wrote the book ...

Yesterday, my royalty statement arrived relating to the first 6 months of this year. Sadly, it showed the chasm that still exists between my original advance and the money made from sales so far (an author doesn't receive royalty payments or income from translation rights etc until the advance has been used up).

But the Spanish deal is there in black and white, so I know it's real. But don't expect any further details from me. Nobody tells me nuffink!

Misery Makes Money

That's a horrible heading, isn't it? But there can be no doubting its veracity.

Take the rash of celeb biogs, for example. (I mean that literally - you can take them. I don't want 'em!) Then compare the pulling power of Kerry Katona with, say, Anthea Turner. Damaged childhood and drama-filled adulthood vs middle-class girl does quite well for herself. See what I mean? There's even a name for these unhappy goldmines ... 'misery memoirs'.

I started thinking about my own experiences in publishing. When my books first came out and were being publicised, this is what I got:

* 'You were made homeless when you were 7 months pregnant? Oh that's wonderful!'

* 'You wrote 2 books, while holding down 2 demanding jobs and raising 2 demanding children and living on a council estate and it nearly did you in? That's great - we can definitely use that!'

* 'You lived through a war? Fantastic! It was 20 years ago? Never mind, it's still useable.'

* 'You didn't have a dreadful childhood? Oh ... shame ...'

OK, I'm paraphrasing a bit, especially on that last one, but honestly, not a lot. And you have to bear in mind that this was about me, not my books. I've never written about those experiences!

Anyway, surely the lowest point in the commercialisation/exploitation of misery has to be the case of 18 year old Natascha Kampusch, who recently escaped after 8 years captivity in a tiny basement in Vienna.

No sooner had she stumbled, blinking and confused, back into the real world, than the literary vultures began circling, cackling their responses to the horror that was her life.

'Completely fascinating, extraordinary,' cackled one. 'The biggest misery memoir there's going to be,' said another, audibly salivating.

Just as well her interests are in the hands of a sensitive PR agent, Dietmar Ecker, then. Here's what he said.

'From a purely capitalist point of view, this woman is a goldmine.'

Excuse me. I think I'm going to be sick.

ocCult Fiction

I've finished copy editing Minx's book, Coven of One, published by Skint's company, Opening Chapter and due out 31/10.

And I can tell you this ... You won't be disappointed!

Think ... mesmerising. Think ... enchanting. Think ... bewitching.

Get the pic?

Now, film rights anyone?