Mr S and I are back in Dorset after a busy week in London. It was all rather fun – I met my charming Dutch editor, Jacqueline, and saw the cover for the Dutch edition of Mr R. The book is being busily translated at the moment, and editors and translators are starting to send through questions about the text. The biggest challenge seems to be the Dorset dialect. There is a motley collection of local folk in Mr R and they speak in broad Dar-set tones.
This was great fun to write: I scoured old dialect dictionaries, read lots of William Barnes and, of course, Thomas Hardy. The speech is written phonetically with dialect words like ‘jitterbug’ (glow worm) and ‘yow’ (ewe) and ‘noggerhead’ (idiot). In old West Country speech, nouns are gendered as they are in German or Anglo-Saxon and are nearly always ‘he’. So, a roof in need of repair is: ‘ee’s in a bit o’ a bad way, isn’t ‘ee?’ I chose to elongate the ‘ee’ when transcribing, as I felt ‘e’ as in ‘e’s in a bit o’ a muddle’ sounds too much like cockney.
All well and good – gave the poor copy editor a bit of headache – but I thought it was all finished. Now, the poor translators are going through exactly the same thing. Jacqueline and her translator are trying different rural Dutch dialects and choosing which sounds best. Professor M who is working on Jack in German, is struggling with the eccentric spelling of the dialect. He emailed to ask what an ‘ersey mistake’ is – (it’s an easy mistake to make…)
It’s a very strange feeling to be taking a week or so off writing (agent Stan has Fred) while knowing that other people are busily working on Mr R. I think they are all in need of some of Curtis’s jitterbug cider.
I love living in Dorset
For the first time in about a decade, I spent New Year’s Eve in London rather than in Dorset. Mr S and I joined friends at Wilton’s Music Hall for a twenties-themed evening of decadence, opera and burlesque, instead of the usual fireside supper at my parents’ cottage.
Mr S and I dancing...
It was very different to last year, when I’d just signed with agent Stan and was about to embark on the edits for ‘Mr R’. Stan was planning on submitting the manuscript in February and we were all hopeful that it would find a home. So much has happened in the past year: from getting an agent, to selling ‘Mr R’ at auction, signing foreign rights deals and meeting so many amazing people involved in the publishing process. And, I can’t quite believe that 2010 is the year that I’m really going have a book published. It still doesn’t feel real.
Thank you for reading this blog and for your lovely comments, and I wish you all the very best for a wonderful 2010!
Mr S and I have been in London this week. It’s always hard to find the writing groove in London. There is one desk in the flat. It’s sloped. Like, if one placed one’s macbook on said desk, it would slide off and crash onto the floor. There is a table. With one comfy chair. I got the table and comfy chair on Monday. By Tuesday Mr S claimed his back was sore and stole back comfy chair, while I harrumphed around the flat, seeking out spots to write. Tried the sofa. Rubbish. Tried my dad’s old leather chair. Rubbish. Sat outside. Neighbour’s dog, yap-yapped. Sat on the bed in the basement. Rubbish.
Yesterday saw agent Stan who was in London on ‘business’ involving the Celtic/ Arsenal match. He was in the company of his teenage son, and so was marginally better behaved. And I do mean marginally. I don’t think I’ve ever had a meeting with Stan which did not involve the pub and several pints of Guinness/ G and Ts. Also, probably not a coincidence that both Mr S and I started the day very stuck. We cursed Stan, considered phoning him to shout and berate him, until we remembered that his phone was ‘broken’ (dropped in one pint of Guinness too many) and no longer receives calls. So, we bowed to that time honoured writer’s custom: we had a good fight and then went out for lunch time margaritas.
This did seem to fix things. In the afternoon, Mr S and I have both been writing scenes containing a kiss. His is funnier. We went for coffee and compared kissing notes. It was rather fun. We sat in Latana drinking flat whites and chatting about our characters’ kisses. It was like being back at school and gossiping about the other kids…
Barbecue summer? Hurrumph.
Mr S and I woke to sunshine streaming through the windows, and we skipped down to breakfast full of writerly joys. Now, I understand that some people believe it takes a spell of bad weather to actually make writers sit down to work – and since I am an arch-procrastinator, you would be forgiven for believing this to be the case with me. Even agent Stan seems to think so. He called last week, full of glee at the bad weather, I could hear him rubbing his hands together Fagin-like. ‘I love the rain,’ he says, ‘it drives all my writers inside. I can see them all shut in their houses working.’ He didn’t then do an evil laugh, but he should have done.
When I write, I need to pace. Our cottage is very small and only a hobbit could pace without banging his noggin on the ceiling. So, I like to pace in the garden, and in the fields. Otherwise known as ‘going for a walk’. Well, this morning, Mr S and I happily embarked on our perambulation in perfect sunshine, thinking ‘at last the met office’s bbq summer.’ It was charming. The birds chirped. The corn swayed. We chattered through plot points, neither really listening to the other but we were very happy.
Then it rained. I mean really rained. One minute sunshine and smiles, the next we were huddled in shrubbery, and bushes don’t provide the shelter you’d think. Short of putting on my wellingtons to sit in the bath, I don’t think I could have got any wetter.
I’ve been drinking tea and Heinz tomato soup to warm up and I’m still cold. I’m probably going to get swine flu now. Or just old fashioned pneumonia. The sun is shining again now. I’m not going to trust it. It’s just trying to lure me outside…
Mr R has just sold to Korea. How amazing is that? I’m delighted that the Korean publishers believe that their readers will be interested in the adventures of a five foot three inch Jewish man in rural Dorset.
I’ve been working on the edit every spare minute, until I started to melt down on Friday and whinged to agent Stan. He prescribed gin, which, I have to say, helped immensely. Quite clearly, gin needs to be tax deductible for writers.
During a sunshine break, Mr S and I sauntered into Regent’s Park to look at the flowers. They are rather amazing…see evidence below. It was rather serendipitous – I was just revising a passage where Jack and Sadie go there to see the daffodils.
ok...so places other than Dorset can be alright, I suppose.
When I’m not editing, I feel guilty. So, here is another picture of me in the park, amongst the spectacular flowers, looking sheepish.
I should be working...
Thank God for Marks and Sparks, or Mr S and I might starve. Haven’t cooked for weeks. 5 days to go. Bugger.
Sorry about the blogging hiatus. I’ve been away for Passover in a land without interweb. It was very strange. I had a lovely time and am thrilled to be back in Dorset. My garden is now full of tulips and forget-me-nots, violets and daisies are starting to peep up between the stones on the terrace. The wild strawberry patch is looking promising too…
While away I still managed to do some work. It was great to catch up with Stan (my agent at Jenny Brown Associates in Edinburgh). I know there is lots of doom and gloom in publishing at the moment with book sales down and people being made redundant. Stan made it clear that publishers are STILL buying books. Since January JBA have done several deals, check them out at:
I also caught up with my brother-in-law Ross Collins, an award winning children’s author and illustrator. I got to see the proofs of his latest picture book Dear Vampa which will be published in the US by Harper Collins this October. The book has all Ross’s usual wit and brilliant illustrations. If you don’t know his work (or even if you do) you should check out his website:
Lastly, David and I had lunch with our old pals Trudi and Neil Oliver. Neil is an author and TV presenter who you might know from the excellent BBC series Coast or The History of Scotland. Neil’s latest book is out in paperback this week (it reached The Sunday Times bestseller list in hardback, only beaten by Jordan’s most recent biography…) He even gave me a signed copy for my Dad. The book is called Amazing Tales For Making Men Out of Boys and describes some of the most daring feats of courage from the last century or so. There is Scott of the Artic, bravery from the Battle of Britain and many more. What I love about Neil, is that his enthusiasm for his subject is contagious. He’s every bit as compelling on paper as he is on the telly!
Right. Now back to the edit. 12 days to go. Bother.