Archive for the category “Bloomsbury”

Why I don’t look forward to World Book Day

Every year, round about World Book Day, my heart sinks.

Not, I hasten to add before I am thoroughly lambasted by the book-lover-brigade, because of the focus on all things written. No, I am 100% in favour of a Day dedicated to celebrating the written word, having spent a large chunk of my early adolescence upside down on the back seat of a Ford Cortina devouring Agatha Christie. Probably best to keep that story for another light news day.

No, my heart sinks because I know that, with the unfailing inevitability of a moany Monday following a too-late-to-bed Sunday, the boys will skip home from school brandishing ‘The Letter’. ‘The Letter’ which merrily encourages them to ‘dress up as their favourite character from a book’ in return for one shiny pound. And I have no problem with the pound , indeed I would happily part company with a significant amount more if only there wasn’t the ‘creative’ element involved.

The conversation goes something like this:

‘I don’t know who to go as!’ (boy)

‘You’ve read loads of books… which is your favourite?’ (mum)

‘Oh, I don’t know!’ (boy)

‘Well,’ (mum, helpful), ‘why not someone from Starfighters, Famous Five, Harry Potter?’

‘We don’t have any Starfighters’ costumes, no one would recognise the Famous Five and absolutely EVERYONE does Harry Potter!’

‘Well,’ (mum, slightly less helpful), ‘what about Horrid Henry – that could be fun. You could go as Henry and your brother as Perfect Peter!’

‘Horrid Henry is for KS1 mum, not KS2. And anyway, there’s absolutely no way I’m going with HIM!’

‘Ooooh, for goodness sake!’ (mum, thoroughly exasperated and out of ideas) ‘Look, you think about what you want to be and let me know when you’ve decided and we’ll come up with something.’

‘Maybe I won’t bother this year…’ (boy – muttering). ‘Dunno what to go as anyway…’

***

Morning of World Book Day

‘But I thought you said you weren’t going to dress up this year?’ (mum, one leg in car, one leg out, about to put the key in the ignition to head off for school)

‘I didn’t MEAN it mum… oh, everyone else will be dressing up and I’ll be the only one who isn’t and Miss said there’s a prize for the best costume and I’ll look silly if I don’t….’

(Mum, sounding not unlike Horrid Henry herself): ‘Arggggggghhhhhhh!’

There follows frantic scrabbling in the dressing up box resulting in an odd assortment of tweed caps and recycled Victorian topic garb.

‘Perfect… there you are: Oliver Twist. Now get into the car and LET’S GO!!’

‘Oliver who?’ asks boy, but knows better than to push it. ‘OK…thanks. Er… can I have my pound?’

***

So this year, I awaited World Book Day with the usual trepidation.

‘Bring a book you’ve enjoyed and finished with into school to swap’ read the instruction on the crumpled letter thrust into my hand. Genius! Fantastic! We can do that! Giddy with relief, I nigh on dance for joy.

 But boy proffers another piece of paper.

‘As you may be aware, next Friday is Red Nose Day. The children are invited to… dress up as their favourite character from a book in return for a pound.’

Noooooooooooo.

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The MOB goes live on Radio Wales

Last week I had the privilege of being interviewed about MOB Rule on BBC Radio Wales.

Water bottle and sweaty palms at the ready, Rob quickly put me at ease and we had an interesting and lively chat about boys, bodily functions and parenting issues. To listen click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qzfr7 and, if you don’t have a spare three hours to listen to the whole programme, move the cursor to around 1hour10 in. When you get to Phil Collins you’re almost there!!

It’s only available for another couple of days so if you want to tune in, you’d better be quick!

Six reasons why it’s marvellous being a Mother Of Boys…

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/showbiz/2013/02/05/what-is-it-really-like-being-the-mother-of-boys-91466-32745038/

Two newspapers in one weekend and a forecast of snow!

Last week, for me, was a bit like snow in the South West. Unexpected, exciting and just a little bit scary.

Because last weekend, Saturday to be precise, the MOB appeared in both the Guardian and the Times.

For the Guardian I wrote a feature entitled ‘Mad about the boys’, a piece dedicated to the almost sacred relationship between a boy and his stick. To find out more about why they may be mere pieces of wood to you, but they’re oh-so-not to a son, read here… http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/12/hannah-evans-mother-of-boys

The Times meanwhile, ran an extract of ‘MOB Rule’, alongside ‘Bringing up boys: a parent’s guide to getting it right’. Much more academically supported advice than my entirely anecdotal tales, I delved into the guide. The only bit I found slightly concerning is that the daily calorific intake of a teenage boy is around 2775 (almost as much as Olympic athletes); I therefore picture myself in five years time pushing not one, but two trolleys. To read on, go here (but you’ll need to pay!)… http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/families/article3654616.ece

What do you do a month before you publish your first book?

Mob RuleToday is one month exactly to ‘P’ day. 17th January 2013, the date when my first book, ‘MOB Rule’ is published and available, not just on pre-order on Amazon, but on real life shelves.

When I first started writing ‘MOB Rule’, I wrote it for me. I wrote it because I wanted to ‘capture’ some of the peculiar magic and mayhem of my life as a MOB, a life which I realised was speeding past all too scarily fast. Truth be told I wrote it because a friend delivering the Church newsletter said I should. I never could resist flattery in any form.

So I started writing it. And then I finished. Nearly 60,000 words, every one of them written, read and quite probably re-written. What next?

I could bind the dog-eared pages in a plastic folder, stick a label on the front marked ‘My Book’ and put it on a shelf. To gather dust until either my boys, or maybe more probably, their spouses of the future, took it down to laugh, to cry, to reminisce.

Or…

I could show it to a friend who happened to be a literary agent, could hand it over to him and brace myself for feedback, could (as his sage wife later put it) ‘send my book out there and let it fly’.

As anyone who writes knows, your writing is part of you. In some cases, and in particular when the writing is autobiographical (albeit with a pinch of artistic salt) your writing is you. And so letting someone else read, dissect and deliver a verdict on it, is a bit like going to your child’s parents evening. Guaranteed to make you sweat.

Sure, the Father of Boys had said it was good. When I’d read him each instalment over the phone or in bed. He’d smiled, he’d chuckled, he’d guffawed out loud. But he’s my husband so I’d expect unconditional loyalty and copious praise. But someone else’s husband, someone unrelated, someone expert… what would they think? With a sickness in my stomach akin to dropping my firstborn off for his first day at nursery, I handed over my ‘baby’ and sat back to wait.

Fortunately for me, the parting was (as the teachers always tell you and you never believe) the most painful bit, and ‘he’ was absolutely fine the minute ‘mum’ was out of sight. The book stood on its own two feet: my agent loved it and amazingly, and gratifyingly, so did Bloomsbury (and in fact another publisher) thereafter.

And so, to cut a long publishing story short, it’s now a month ’til publication day. When ‘MOB Rule’ will be out there to be bought by all of Britain and some of the rest of the world. Or at least by my mother-in-law, and my mum, who will each buy one.

The question therefore is what do I need to do now? To plan, to ‘get ready’, to prepare for publication?

I have been warned by more seasoned writers that the ‘due date’ itself can be a bit of a disappointment. Because, in reality, nothing actually happens. After the agonies of editing, proofing and rewriting, the day your labour of love is actually published can feel a bit like New Year’s Eve. Alcohol-fuelled expectation followed by a few damp-squib fireworks.

Ever optimistic however, and in the hope that my ‘P’ day may, after all, be something special, here are a few of the things I will be doing over the next four weeks:
– Googling myself on a daily basis just to check where the book will be sold. This will stop after ‘P’ day. If reviews are nice, Bloomsbury will tell me. And if they’re not, I’d rather not know
– Avoiding eating that extra slice of Yuletide chocolate log. Never has the prospect of a few photos been a better incentive not to over-indulge
– Becoming a media ‘tart’. Not, I admit, a role in which I feel most comfortable, however on this occasion I will be status-updating, tweeting and blogging for Britain. Apparently the book (unfortunately) won’t promote itself.

So come on…what else should I be doing in the run up to ‘P’ day?

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