Monday, July 27, 2015

A Cookman Family Apologia

This is unprecedented, I know. I only updated my blog yesterday, and here I am again. What prompted this was watching television last night and a promo trail on the radio this morning. I shall try and explain.

I watched Joanna Lumley's Siberian adventure last night, complete with pictures of her as a model in Moscow in the 60s. I was a model then, too, and she and I are almost the same age. What happened? How did she go on to become an actor and celebrity while I stayed in total obscurity? No, I'm not bitter, just stating a fact. I'd even featured on the front page of the Evening Standard (London based national newspaper, for those who don't know) in my professional acting debut at the age of 15. Sunk without trace.

I went on to marry Brian Cookman, who, when I met him, was an advertising executive with EMI Records. He then went on to help set up the London office of Rolling Stone Magazine with Jann Wenner and Andrew Bailey. To the dismay of a lot of my family and friends, he turned professional musician a couple of months before we married. There was a record contract, single, EP and album releases and then - nothing. This isn't unusual, as anyone in the business will tell you, but other people around at the same time did rather well.

Broke and living in the depths of the Cambridgeshire countryside, I persuaded Brian to go to what is now called an open-mic gig at a local folk club, while I sat at home with our baby daughter. This started a whole new spike in his career, one of the highlights of which was becoming the most popular Main Stage compere at Ken Woollard's Cambridge Folk Festival, and the only one up to that point who received encores! He was funny - very funny - and a talented songwriter and singer, and Fred Wedlock, Mike Harding and Jasper Carrott made quite a good thing out of doing the same thing... Yes, he knew them all.

A few years later and living back in London, he persuaded some musician friends to join him to make an album. (Yes, there are still copies available.) Another kind friend backed him, and off we went. He even dedicated it to my recently deceased Dad. You've guessed it.

We ended up with four children.
Surprisingly enough, they have all turned out to be performers. They've all studied theatre at college, and one of them has even studied music at Bath Spa University and - get this - the Royal Academy of Music. Both the girls have incredible voices, though I say it myself as shouldn't, and again, while watching television last night and the night before I was watching singers with Jools Holland's Orchestra and wondering why it wasn't my two up there. Yes, they are both pros, and Lou has appeared on television with Len Goodman. Both still singing for a living, though.

The boys both play, and Miles fronts two bands and is very nearly as funny as his father. Leo is turning into a multi-instrumentalist and is a talented writer still struggling (in his attic in Brighton) to make his mark. They are both songwriters, too, and in my opinion, the equal of many of the current crop.

The reason that this an apologia is to explain why, with all the admitted talent in the family (not mine, the real Cookmans), not one of them has achieved the recognition that some of their peers have done. They just aren't pushy. Showy, yes. Sociable, definitely. BUT. We are all, actually, rather SHY. Yeah, go on, laugh. But we are. My Penn side (my maiden name) is exactly the same, so my poor kids had no chance. We've all tried to overcome this with some success, but it peeps out occasionally, and of course, it makes it impossible to push ourselves. We like someone else to do it, and although we all, as the current deplorable phrase goes, "Big Up" each other we're not really very good at it. Social media appears to exist for the purpose of promotion, and I have to use it in my job, but I know I don't use it to its full potential.

So, if anyone would like to - er - Big Up the Cookman siblings, they're welcome. They won't do it themselves.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's summer!

Not that you'd ever believe it this weekend! It's been pouring here in the South East of the UK since Friday.

The latest news Chez Cookman is fairly pedestrian. Two weeks ago I was at Queen Mary's University in London for the Romantic Novelists' Association annual conference, despite having stated some months ago that I was leaving the Association. However, I've been a member for so long, and most of my best mates are members, so in the end, I decided I'd stay, despite having not tried to write romance since the eighties. The conference was fun, and I was sharing a Uni "flat" with some of those best mates, Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Bernardine Kennedy, Susan Alison (who drew my lovely Steeple Martin map) and Catherine Jones. Catherine was also one of the writers I went "on retreat" with back in March. Both events, conference and retreat, seemed to involve a good deal of alcohol...

For my eldest daughter's birthday, I took her up Lunnon for a bit of culture. We saw High Society at the Old Vic - Maria Friedman's production, with the lovely Joe Stilgoe, whom Louise managed to have a word with afterwards. We also discovered we knew one of ensemble dancers, which was fun. It's a terrific production - best musical I've seen in years.

The next event is youngest son Leo's birthday. He's coming home from Brighton next weekend, and weather willing, we are having a garden party. After that I shall withdraw into my usual hermit-like existence until I go on holiday, where I shall become sociable again.

Work-wise, Libby Sarjeant 16 is under construction, but about to undergo a change of title. My publisher thinks Murder En Pointe is not quite appropriate, and on second thoughts, though I still love the title, I agree with her. So she, my editor and I are all flirting with different titles. If only I didn't have to have "Murder" as the first word!

I'm also slightly distracted by the thought of a second series. New agent Lisa and I had a chat about this at the conference, and it's been swirling around my head ever since. The trouble is, I only just manage to keep up with Libby, so when would I write it? And Libby isn't going to go away!

Have a lovely summer, everyone.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Here is the news

Well, it's out. Murder In The Blood that is, in both e-book and print. It seems to be performing reasonably well and has garnered 5 Star reviews already, which is delightful.

And now, there's something I'd like to ask readers of the blog and the newsletter - both of which I'm very bad at keeping up, sorry. A discussion with other writers somewhere in the ether suggester registering domain names if they were quoted in the book. This set me thinking. Should Libby have her own website? Would I keep that up? Would it be of interest? What would she put on it? My publisher is keen on the idea as it's a marketing tool, but I'm keen on it because Libby is part of me.

Genuine request for thoughts, please.

Thank you in advance.