Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Green Carnation

This week a new literary prize has emerged. It all started when the Man Booker long list was announced and a friend of mine, the writer Paul Magrs, whose review of Murder in Steeple Martin can be found through a link in a previous post, asked why there wasn't a prize for gay male fiction called (ahem) The Man Fooker Prize. Twitter took it up in a mild way, I of course, thinking it was a great idea, and then Paul said "You'll be a judge, won't you, Lesley?" And suddenly, it was real.

Over the week, Simon Savidge, London editor of Bent Magazine and a fellow judge, got together a website, Paul, Simon, I and Nick Campbell, the fourth judge, worked on getting the name out there and asking publishers and publications to back us. We began to get a cautious response, but, surprise, surprise, we uncovered a hitherto unsuspected nervousness among publishers. There were many reasons why, eventually, we were brought to accept that if we wanted the award to succeed, we needed to change the name. So we did. In a nod to the great Wilde it has been renamed ‘The Green Carnation Prize’. I am, naturally, very thrilled to be part of this, although my reading plans, especially when I'm on holiday in Turkey, will be severely compromised! Please, if you read my blog, put the word about. We will announce the winner, probably in London, on December 1st, World Aids Day. Watch this space!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sometimes, nice things happen

This week, having sent off Murder Imperfect to my long suffering editor last week, I had a couple of days off, cleared out the office and the understairs cupboard and discovered I have a new deadline for a new book, Murder to Music, due out next April.

A few weeks ago, I sent a large parcel to son Leo in Manchester. It never arrived, and all attempts to trace it have failed. This morning - guess what? A large parcel in a blue plastic bag arrived addressed to the Occupier. Inside was my parcel - all wrappings ripped to glory, but contents intact. Well done - I think - Royal Mail. As one of the things in the parcel was a framed photograph of my parents before they married, I was delighted to receive it.

Another Nice Thing was, as Philly and her friends, Katie and Ender arrived on my doorstep this morning, so did the local paper. And there was a double page spread of the Marlowe Theatre pantomime, including Katie as Maid Marion, and in the blurb, Philly and I both get a mention. (Helps when you know the panto company's administrator.)

Leo in Manchester has sorted out his differences at work, and Lou is looking forward to her appearance at the Vintage at Goodwood festival in a posh frock. And the custom built guitar pedal I ordered for Miles's birthday (in May) has finally arrived. Sometimes, nice things happen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shows, Graduations and Conferences

Since my last post there have been three Notable Events. All of them in London and occasioning Very Bad Feet. The first was daughter Phillipa's final show at the Royal Academy of Music. She played Sarah Jane Moore in Sondheim's Assassins and was, of course, brilliant. So she can act, now? I couldn't walk the following day.

Next, the graduation. Held in St Marylebone Church, a beautiful building right opposite the Academy. Best friend Elly's dad Graham and I were the chosen two and travelled up at the crack of sparrows to be seated at 9. The ceremony began at 10 15, but we were entertained by the Academy's Brass ensemble, which was superb. Apart from the graduands, Fellowships and Memberships of the Academy were introduced by the wonderfully voiced John Suchet and we were treated to a terrific jazz tuba piece by one of the honours students. After all the pomp and circumstance everything went a bit to pot, as there were free drinks in the Duke's Hall. Needless to say, our little group, now enhanced by two other members of Philly's course, a twin and a mother, were the last to leave having consumed our own bodyweight in wine. We managed to get to Pizza Express to have a rather late lunch, then the proud graduands left to get ready for their ball (held in the Gorilla House at London Zoo???)

Due to this once in a lifetime experience I missed my grandson's fourth birthday and got into trouble with my elder daughter.

Finally, the RNA 50th Anniversary conference. Now, I know I don't write romance, but, as I've said before, most of my mates do. So off I went, again at sparrow's, and eventually dragged myself and case from Greenwich Station to the conference venue at the farthest point of the Royal Naval College on the hottest day of the year. I, my feet, knees and hips were complaining bitterly by this time and it was only ten o'clock! My friend Bernardine nobly agreed to show me where the accomodation was after lunch. This turned out to be In Greenwich. Not on site. Off we went. Then back we went to listen to the inestimable Carole Blake, agent extraordinaire (unfortunately not mine). Then, oh, my, back to the accomodation, whereupon Bernardine, Susan Alison (wonderful artist who drew the map for my books) and I decided to order a taxi to go to the Gala Dinner in The Trafalgar Tavern that evening rather than risk the hoi polloi of Greenwich - and the distance - in our finery.

It had been, apparently 32 degrees all day. If I could have gone home at that point, I would have done. However, the Gala Dinner was lovely, and although we didn't manage to make contact with many people (terrible crush, my dear) many friends were duly greeted.

The following day, in loose white and feeling like an Indian gentleman, off I went again on the long trek. Today, however, Bernardine, Susan, a friend from the US, Rosemary, and I appropriated a table in the courtyard and refused to move All Day. We remained cool. We attended no sessions, but received friends and admirers at our table with a gracious wave of our hands. We even decided not to go back to the accomodation before the evening bar and barbecue, also held in the courtyard. Altogether a more relaxing day.

Yesterday, morning spent in the courtyard, attended the plenary speech by Joanna Trollope, a lot of which I didn't agree with, (with which...Huh?) had lunch, back to the courtyard and then a lift all the way home with the lovely Jane Wenham-Jones, with whom I share a publisher. We shall be doing an event together for Ramsgate Arts on August Bank Holiday. Thanks, Jane.

Apart from the depredation of hips, knees and feet, three good events. If I receive any pictures, I shall upload them at a future time. I am also pleased to announce the return of son Leo to the blogosphere and online in general. And thank you, son Miles, for looking after the cats. And happy birthday Louise for tomorrow, July 13th.

Now back to the revisions.