Tag Archives: mr rosenblum’s list

on the road

Today I went out with Julia, the lovely Hodder sales rep, to meet booksellers in the Dorset area. It was great to meet the people who will actually be selling Mr R. There are just so many people involved in the selling of a book – from the brilliant team at head office, to the traveling sales reps (make me think of old fashioned peddlers with donkey carts piled high with glittering books) as well as the booksellers in the shops.

Jack is on his travels too. I’ve been e-mailing with Professor M, my German translator. Having someone scrutinise your book in minute detail is quite an odd experience. In my alternate life as an academic, I have spent eons reading a poem, researching every line, and as a screenwriter I have interrogated the text I am adapting. It’s a fantastic experience, and one becomes quite obsessed with the source text – it feels at times like squatting in someone else’s brain. However, having that gaze turned upon one’s own work is quite disconcerting.

I’m now getting glimpses of the foreign covers. This is the Dutch one:

Dutch cover for Mr Rosenblum's List

And this is the Spanish:

Mr R in Spain!

Mr Rosenblum's List in Spain.



Filed under from summerhouse to summer read, inspirations behind Mr Rosenblum

Mr Rosenblum’s Cottage gets a new thatch

It’s been 20 years and it’s time for the cottage to be re-thatched. This is the cottage that my grandparents bought when they first arrived in Dorset and the place where I spent all my holidays as a child. The windows are really high as it used to be the village school and the teachers didn’t want the children to be distracted by interesting goings on in the lane outside.

The thatcher and his assisant are doing a grand job as you can see. My mum mentioned ‘Mr R’ to John the thatcher and he was very enthusiastic and is bringing his wife and their book group to the launch. If only he could have helped Jack and Sadie with their leaky roof in chapter 10…

bundles for the thatch

And you need a good head for heights… I feel dizzy.

I love the bright colour of the new thatch. It fades so fast.


Filed under dorset life, inspirations behind Mr Rosenblum

Cabbages and tea-parties

This morning Mr S brought me a bouquet of cabbages. Well it is Halloween, and cabbages are a lot more seasonal at this time of year than roses. They are actually beautiful – green and pink and white – and are sitting proudly in a vase beside the fire.

I love this time of year. Rather like at bluebell time, Mr S and I go hunting round Dorset for the best crop of colours beneath the trees. In the morning we went to Duncliff, where we found a toadstool circle in the middle of the wood – surely a portent today of all days. Then, late in the afternoon we walked from our front door across the fields to a copse of beech and sycamore trees. The last of the evening light filtered through the leaves and turned the ground beneath gold – it was as if we crunched through sunlight.

Days like today are so English: the smell of woodsmoke as we return to the cottage, short autumn days, eating russet apples from my mother’s orchard. Mr R is such an English book, a celebration of days like these and as I tramp through Delcombe, Fifehead Wood or through Stourhead, I am amazed that Jack and Sadie have found friends so far away.

Jocasta sent me a gorgeous message from a bookseller in New Zealand, where my publishers held a tea for Jack. All I can say is that Jack, Englishman that he is, would marvel at having such wonderful foreign friends.

perfect autumn day in dorset

perfect autumn day in dorset

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Filed under from summerhouse to summer read, writer pontification

a rose by any other name…

…might smell as sweet but wouldn’t sound nearly as lovely if it were called Cuthbert. In my opinion names matter. I just went out for a spot of lunch with my girlfriends B and P. We were at school together, and I think sharing egg sandwiches and walker salt n’ shake for ten years, creates a certain bond. Over a lunch of dim sum (not salt n’ shake crisps for us anymore, we’re grown ups now), I started blathering on about character names. How they matter to me. How I can’t see the character properly until I find the right name. I was talking away and they exchanged that look… ‘here she goes again…’ ‘Do I sound incredibly pretentious right now?’ I asked. ‘Have another prawn/leek/puffball/ thingy,’ said B.

It’s true. I’m not one of those writers who can talk elegantly about writing without sounding a bit foolish. But never mind, you can’t see me right now. And it’s true, I do spend many good hours fretting about names.  I wrote several drafts of ‘Mr Rosenblum’, with my hero called Sam, rather than Jack. No wonder it wasn’t right. The novel clicked for me when I discovered Jack’s real name.

But, it’s not just characters, it’s places too. The right name for a village, a house, or even the piece of music. As writers we try to find the perfect verb or the precise shade of blue, so why would a name matter any less?


Filed under Book 2 - Tyneford Project, from summerhouse to summer read, writer pontification

Compliment Fishing in the Yemen

I’m thrilled to have received my first blurb today. It’s a gorgeous quote from Paul Torday, author of the charming ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.’  Paul’s writing really resonates with me, he conjures fables about middle-aged men and women, who dream of better things. I read and adored ‘Salmon Fishing’ some time ago, and having Paul say such generous things about ‘Mr R’, gave me quite a tingle.

You should check out his latest book ‘The Girl on the Landing’ – a deliciously creepy tale set in the Scottish highlands. My review is on amazon.co.uk under the dodgy pseudonym ‘Willie Collins’…

Today was slightly odd, as I had to oscillate between Fred and the final edits for ‘Mr R’. I’ve been naughtily tardy with the proofs, and today Jocasta forced me to focus. I’d scurry outside to the summer house and scribble a bit of Fred, and then dash in, check my e-mail and answer J’s questions. The errors become smaller and smaller – a stray comma, the odd typo and one savvy reader noticed that the ‘Jewish Chronicle’ arrived on the wrong day.

‘Mr R’ is set in a village called ‘Pursebury Ash’, which is really a fictional version of my parents’ and grandparents’ village at the bottom of Bulbarrow. There are a few notable changes, such as the river Stour running through Pursebury, and Hambledon Hill being visible from the pub. Sceptre has had printed a number of early reading proofs, which have been passed around the village. I’m delighted that some of Jack’s phrases have already been adopted. On my ride with Sue, she informed me cheerfully as we approached some seemingly impassable brambles ‘we’ll just have to sausage through!’ Although some locals have been slightly irritated by my moving the river Stour, ‘Ah well, I suppose all writers lie…’

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Filed under Book 2 - Tyneford Project, books I love, from summerhouse to summer read

deserts, desserts and copy edits

Sorry about the sporadic posting. It feels slightly strange writing this blog while I’m away from Dorset, but I had a lovely chat with Jocasta and she was insistent that since I also talk about writing, publishing and cake, that it’s perfectly ok.

Mr S and I went to Palm Springs with our friends Jeff and Kelly. It was properly hot  – unlike L.A. which is currently under the ‘June gloom’. We lazed by the pool and got scolded by the dapper elderly gentleman in room 12 who informed us that the hotel rules specifically forbade drinking and glassware by the the pool area and we were in ‘direct and deliberate contravention’. Thereafter, gin and tonics had to be slurped quickly and in stealth.

We took a trip by the ‘fastest rotary cable-car in the whole world’ (I know, the posters were everywhere), which not only whisked us up the mountain at breakneck speed, but also rotated 360 degrees so that you could feel sick, I mean get the view, from every angle. Mr S took many photos and was very happy.

alpine desert at San Jacinto mountain

alpine desert at San Jacinto mountain

On the way home Jeff took a detour via Joshua Tree national park so that we Brits could see a proper desert. It was hot. And dry. And weirdly beautiful. We drove into the park for 30 minutes and then stopped the car to go for a short hike. Almost immediately we all fell silent. The stillness is complete and unnerving. I think of our home in Dorset as quiet. We have very little noise from the modern world: occasional hums from passing cars and the constant chatter from the birds, the sound of the wind in the plum tree and the buzzing of the flies or bees. The quiet in Joshua tree was utterly different. We sat on sun baked rocks and listened. Here is a picture of me, uncharacteristically still and quiet. Mr S had to snap a photo as evidence.

me. not talking. strange.

me. not talking. strange.

I’ve been going through the copy edited manuscript this week. I had been slightly nervous, that the copy editor would point out thousands of errors and everyone at Sceptre would realise they had made a big mistake after all. In fact, she said lovely things about the novel and made only minor corrections. These ranged from amending my punctuation (my use of commas can be a little creative), fixing typos, occasionally re-wording a sentence for clarity and also once or twice pointing out an anachronism. My mum has also been going the m/s with a toothcomb (what the hell is a tooth comb, by the way?) to triple check all my nature references.

We are here to work as well as hang out with Jeff, Milly, Alice and Kelly, so have been taking meetings. Elinor and Stan have also been in touch, and there is some exciting news to come…so watch this space!


Filed under from summerhouse to summer read, the movie business

the final stretch

Ok, sorry about the hiatus. I worked like a demon over the weekend so that I could give the revisions to Jocasta on Monday. Her notes were great. The only point we really disagreed over was the ending. I did huff and puff a bit (quite a bit) and drank a fair amount of gin. However, she did make some really good points (I can’t tell you here, or it would spoil the book in case one day you read it). I worked away on Sunday and Monday, sending the m/s to agent Stan for any last minute advice. I was really, really attached to the new and improved ending and keeping my fingers crossed that she likes it, and hurray – she just phoned to say that she does!

I’ve been taking a couple of days to relax. Though, Mr S and I are in London again on filmy stuff. More on that later…

Met up today with Richard Moore, another of Stan’s clients. We met through Stan and are now friends, much to Stan’s bemusement, who can’t see what on earth we’d have to talk about besides him. Actually, we have lots in common and Stan provides a vast amount of material. None of which can be mentioned in a public forum. Richard has written a fantastic biography of Chris Hoy (gold medalist in cycling), as well as about the mysterious Robert Millar. It’s fun to hang out with other writers. It can be lonely, and its fascinating to hear what other people are working on, especially when it’s so different. The publishing world is new to me, and I like being able to ask Richard stuff – whether it’s about the editing process, literary festivals or just how you feel when you read your own work.

The m/s is coming back to me tomorrow and then, once I’ve done the last few changes, it’s off to the copyeditor. And time to start book 2…

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Filed under books I love, from summerhouse to summer read