Sunday, November 19, 2006

Breezeblock Park, Five Things and books

Well, that's Breezeblock Park over. A little known Willy Russell play first performed, as they all were, at The Everyman in Liverpool in 1975, starring Julie Walters, Sheila Hancock (my character) and Norman Rossington. Three couples within a family live on the same council estate, and the action takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. An extremely funny play, it also has Willy Russell's trademark bittersweet edge, culminating in my character's breakdown. It is also the play that gave Caroline Ahern the idea for the Royle Family, and we were given permission to reprint her letter to Russell in the programme. It went very well, full houses almost every night, and all the women in the cast were given a vibrator as a memento. Don't ask.

I've been tagged by my friend Bernardine Kennedy to reveal Five Little Known Facts about myself. I can't think of any! However, I'll try. I was a stewardess on the last commercial flight out of Israel as the six day war began. (That dates me.) I did hand modelling for Freeman's catalogue. I was asked to be a Playboy Bunny. (And said no.) I was married for a year to a photographer. I can't eat cheese.

Most of those came from my children, because I couldn't remember anything most people didn't already know about me. Well, I say most people - I mean most people I know. And I expect they all know the above facts, too. I'm not proud.

I was delighted with the response to my previous blog about children's books. I've been given lots more to look out for, and reminded of some I'd forgotten. Jenny Haddon mentioned Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series, and of course, Diana Wynne-Jones' Chrestomancy series, all of which I've bought for myself during the last few years. My eldest daughter, she of the recent motherhood, who posted first, has, of course, exactly the same taste as I have, except that she also loved Mallory Towers.

Now looking forward to staying in every night and concentrating on finishing and delivering manuscript to publishers by the end of the week. (Oh, yeah?) Bye for now.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happiness is a book discovery

I have many favourite books - naturally, I'm a writer. But there are a few I re-read every year, and some of them I've even shoe-horned into my current book. These are: The Little White Horse, I Capture the Castle, The Swish of the Curtain, Golden Pavements and Three Men in a Boat. Notice anything? Four of them are loosely defined as children's books. I also re-read Monica Edwards, Malcolm Saville, Ngaio Marsh and Georgette Heyer every year - not their entire oeuvre, but the odd few books.

Thanks to t'internet, I've also begun to collect and replace gaps in my collection, something I would have thought impossible a few years ago. I even found a book which used to make my mother and father - and me - laugh out loud when I was a teenager, of which I only remembered the title. I found it - exorbitantly priced, and two other books by the same author. Unfortunately, they didn't stand up to my memories.

This is not the case with the children's books. I've obtained Monica Edwards books I hadn't read since I was about 14, and they are as brilliant as ever. Malcolm Saville, too, although they seem to me now to be slightly condescending. Edwards isn't. Neither is my other favourite, Pamela Brown. Perhaps that's because she started her first book, the above mentioned "Swish" when she was only 14 herself.

To my delight, I have found an internet retailer who not only shares my anorakey love of old pony books - she has a whole section of her site devoted to them - but has a copy of a Pamela Brown book I lost years ago. She is at Between us, we've come up with an idea that might appear here on this blog one day - when I've got the current mss - now late - to the publisher. Watch this space. Or not. Up to you. But would love to hear about people's favourite children's books. And whether there are many out there who still buy and read children's books.