Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Books and writing

I've been reading a lot of books lately. I think it was finally finishing the long slow haul of Our Mutual Friend that has made me devour a couple of shorter novels in a few gulps plus I've had train journeys and some long babysitting nights to fill, with nowt on t'telly. So far I've read The Adoption by Dave Hill which I really enjoyed - great characters who were all very real and well-observed, and a fraught family dynamic that kept me hooked. (And did I say, I've met him?!)

Next from the shelf was Beyond Black from Hilary Mantel for book group next week. From the cover, I expected this to be a Victorian ghost story - similar to that Sarah Waters one with the medium and prison scenes (sorry, too lazy to look it up on Amazon but hopefully you'll know what I mean. Affinity, was it called?) - but no, anyway, I was wrong, contemporary setting, well, ten or so years ago. She is SUCH a good writer, I think, brilliant use of words, really vivid descriptive passages. The subject matter was very disturbing, really got under my skin. And for all its darkness there were some fantastic comedic episodes that threw everything into relief. I liked it. Curious to know what the others think next week - and you, if you've read it?

I was going to launch straight into my Classic of the Month (which is Under the Greenwood Tree, still patiently waiting on my bedside table) but actually felt like something a bit lighter after all the ghosts and violence of Beyond Black so have started The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy by Polly Williams instead. I have to say, I've avoided this for ages because I loathe that whole 'yummy mummy' thing and I assumed it was going to be about braying Sloaney types with full-time nannies, doing the whole baby-as-accessory charade - which bears no resemblance whatsoever to my life or anybody else's I know. But then I read the first chapter of it on her website and realised that sure, there are a few of these characters in the book but they are held up for ridicule, and the main character, Amy, is actually hugely sympathetic and real. And it's absolutely hilarious, too, and very well-written. So I'm loving that one. Hurrah!

Work-wise, I am rocking at the moment. Sadly, not on the novel, that has come to a standstill while I tackle the 'day job' of writing children's books - but I'm storming along with those. Second draft of a new fairy book sent off, first draft of the fifth Jake book sent off, hopefully will dispatch the second draft of the final Velvet story today and start on my last fairy book in the current series (Saskia, if you're reading this, Jacqui!) AND had some good feedback from Usborne on my new proposal - just a few tiny tweaks they've asked for and then they're going to take it to their acquisitions meeting. It's (potentially) a new six-book series. I am VERY excited and already crossing all limbs and digits... Oh, I love my job. Love it, love it, love it. Did I mention that?


Clare said...

"braying Sloaney types with full-time nannies, doing the whole baby-as-accessory charade"

Yes, that was the book I got for Xmas whose name I couldn't remember! It's pretty good, isn't it?

My life is so insulted from the people described above that I barely knew they existed - and was slightly alienated by the whole waxing-and-expensive-clothes thing, but yes, well written, sympathetic, engaging, funny. I wolfed it down.

Clare said...

I'm so glad you like your job. I was going to ask if you did, when we met the other day. Because I'd kind of like to be you!

Lucy Diamond said...

My fave bit so far is the breast pad in nightclub scene. Very very funny. (the beauty salon and expensive clothes stuff is all pretty alien to me too - I relate far more to the realistic bits!)

Oh Clare. No-one's ever said they want to be me before. I'm absurdly touched!

liz fenwick said...

My fingers are crossed on the proposal.

I haven't read the book but I see those types everyday at the school gate. Maybe its just a london thing.

Julia Buckley said...

Oh wow a six book series. How exciting. I like my life too much to wish I was anyone but me - but I would certainly give a lot have your drive!

Lucy Diamond said...

Cheers, I will keep you posted. It will probably get turned down now I've blogged about it!

I'll have to go on a beauty-salon-and-expensive-clothes spree to cheer myself up, clearly!