March 1, 2014

Festivals, elections, birthdays, and life in general

Hello again!

This month’s stories-to-hear are: HARRIET YOU’LL DRIVE ME WILD, POSSUM MAGIC, and GOODNIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT!

But don’t forget that if you want to hear other stories at any time I do have two new CDs available. On Baby Magic I read my best- loved stories for very young children, and Classic Magic has my most familiar stories for slightly older children. They are available from: Audible.com and Bolinda.com

As I said in the February blog, I’m writing again, which is a thrill after 18 months of no writing at all. I’m writing in intense bursts, short bursts. (Is a burst ever long?) I never write for an entire day because I need to leave the text alone to rise, as it were, like bread. After a break of a few hours, months or even years, I can go back to it with a clearer eye, to see more easily what’s wrong with it and what’s good. This latest effort is about polar bears and little brothers, and I’m saying nothing more…

My next book won’t be published this year, as was originally planned. The brilliant illustrator has shingles so she can’t meet her deadline. I care more about her than I do about deadlines, so I’m wishing her well. She knows who she is. I’m being wickedly secretive, as you can see.

What have I been reading? The two best books this last month have been a biography of Max Perkins, the famous American editor of Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, among others. It’s called Max Perkins, Editor of Genius, by A. Scott Berg. I was riveted by all the detail about writing and editing but was shocked at what devils and divas writers can be. I hope I’ve never been like that! Good grief. They were disgraceful. The other book I loved in particular was by a new author for me: Rabih Alameddine. He’s from Beirut but is based now in Los Angeles. The book was a hymn to literature and women, exquisite! It’s called: The Unnecessary Woman. It was hard to believe it had been written by a man.

On the home front, one of my dear sisters is ill. Our Italian sister, Jan, came to Australia last month to visit us both, a joyful time in each case, in spite of everything. Here she is with me at my place:P2220005

I wish I could post photos of Theo, our beloved grandson, as he is the delight of our lives, but his mother quite rightly wants his privacy and childhood to be preserved. His imaginative play is hysterical. I found myself standing on the dining room table last week reeling him in as he pretended to be a Great White shark. It was a mighty battle. I turn 68 on March 5th but I still managed to be a powerful fisherman when needed.

A few days ago I read Theo the dummy version of my new polar bear book. (A ‘dummy book’ is explained here). I can’t draw anything, ever, so I had only the text, but I have been telling him versions of this story for months and thought he would love to hear it as the pages turned in a little book. Instead he looked at it and turned a few pages, and his eyes filled with tears.
‘Nanou!’ he said. ‘But there are no pictures! You have to draw them.’ I had to explain my lack of talent in that regard, and the hope that a marvellous artist would soon be painting gorgeous pictures for him. Eventually he calmed down. When I read it he was totally spell-bound. But all children are spellbound by the stories told by near-and-dear adults, not because the stories are any good necessarily, but because they love the adults, and adore the whole thing about being with them in close, snuggling contact.

Regarding other family matters, our state election is on my husband’s birthday: March 15th. Our daughter Chloë has been an MP (Labor Party) for two terms (eight years) but the boundaries of her electorate have now changed to her great disadvantage, so it will be difficult for her to win again. It will be a nail-biting night. My father used to say Labor builds, the conservatives destroy, which has turned out to be true for every election I have lived through. But, heigh ho, we live in a fine democracy, with compulsory voting, so what will be will be.

This month, Adelaide, my home city, goes crazy. We call it Mad March. There’s the Adelaide Cup—a horse race; a 3 day V8 car race; our three week international Festival of Arts, which includes a writers’ festival, international dance, theatre and music, a massive Fringe Festival, events for children, artworks, noise, happiness and perfect weather. If you plan to visit, make it March. It’s divine. The fun is never ending.

Happily it’s lunchtime, my favourite meal of the day.

All the absolute best till April! Mem xxx