Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Present for You is Hidden in Your Shoe

That's about the level it all started at. My Dad would write poems (usually so late on Christmas Eve it was already Christmas Day) that were clues to where some of our presents were hidden. When we were little, the poems were really, really easy, like the shoe poem. And then we got older ...

Now, I write poems for my kids, and hide their presents. I do it for Christmas, and for birthdays too. And now that my boys are old enough, there is no longer any need for holds barred. The mighty cauldron of my brain bubbles up a happy soup of doggerel laced with surrealism, family in-jokes, obscure movie references and truly bad puns. It's great.

I miss my Dad.

I'm taking the next week or so off from blogging. When next I post, we will be into My Big Year, and Questors will be officially official. But will it arrive in the shops in time to be on the shelves for January 4th? Will I get good reviews? Will I get bad reviews? Will I get any reviews? Will my photo spontaneously combust at the Newsagents?

Watch this space! (Better yet, go to a bookshop!)

Happy Christmas, Merry New Year, and Random Good Wishes, Joan.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Silk Purses, Sow's Ears and the Vanity Gene

On Saturday Walter Neilson from The Scotsman came to the house and spent just under two hours taking photographs of me. He was a very nice man with groovy glasses who had obviously never heard about the inadvisability of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I offered him my eminently photographable sons, my cat (the good-looking thin one), and the truly fabulous view out my front window, but he was determined to get a picture of me.

Which raises that cosmic question - why are some people photogenic, and some of us so utterly not? And why do the unphotogenic ones CARE so much? Am I a worse writer because I can crack a camera lens at forty paces? Will people not buy my book because of it?

Of course not!

Let's face it, it's got nothing to do with anything but vanity - that odd thing we harbour no matter what the evidence. I expect there's a gene for it, right beside the gene for fantasy generally. And if that's the case - I spent a good bit of time this Saturday on my own line of work! So good for me. It's not all Word Counts, you know!

Cheers, Joan "My-face-I-don't-mind-it-cause-I-am-behind-it" (as my mother has been known to say) Lennon.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Over the years, I've had lots of advice about what to wear for gigs ( - but can I call them "gigs", or is that just sad? Doesn't "talk" sound boring? When I did writing workshops in schools, that was okay - "workshop" sounds fun enough - but what if it isn't a workshop? "School visits"? Too much like something a nit nurse does - ) but I never got the same advice twice. I'll give you a selection:

Always wear black.
Whatever you do, don't wear black.
Look like you've made an effort.
Whatever you do, don't look like you've made an effort.
Don't dress like a teacher.
Try not to look like somebody's mother.
Give them something interesting to look at in case what you're saying isn't.
Wear jeans.
Wear anything but jeans ...

It's tough. I don't know what to call what I do, and I don't know what to wear when I'm doing it. Thank goodness it's the writing that's my day job - for somebody whose commute involves coming downstairs, jammies and a dressing gown are the garments of choice. And I can call it anything I like!


P.S. Here's me, clutching Questors, in one version of my gig/talk/visit gear. Photo courtesy of the Angus Courier, 29 Nov. 2006, Kirriemuir Town Hall.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It All Started in Kirriemuir!

I did my first talk on Questors this week in the Kirriemuir town hall, and two more interviews - one over the phone, standing in the middle of the Kirriemuir Library in my raincoat. That was with the reporter for the Angus Courier, who instead of coming to hear me was covering a Council meeting. Personally I think he drew the short straw on that one, but I may be prejudiced. The other interview was with someone from the Young Scot website. I haven't seen either of these yet but will let you know.

The talk went well, the kids were great, and the blood on the poster hardly showed at all. I do like P7's - they're good company.

I picked up a handy tip from another writer for the book-signing bit - have a pad of paper for them to write their names down on for you, so you don't make a hash of it in their book by guessing wrong, or take forever getting them to spell it out loud (or, often, inaudibly soft). It worked!

Ice Road is finished and with my agent for vetting, and I have no more talks or interviews lined up for the immediate future. So there's now nothing between me and getting stuck back in to The Walking Mountain except a bunch of Christmas baking. "The Walking Mountain - what's that?" I hear you cry. Tune in next week to find out.

Meanwhile, tashi delek' or go with luck (in the language of the people of Eastern Bhutan)