Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stone Circles, Saints and Signs

I wish these were better photos but the lighting in the museum* was really difficult.**  I also wish my French was better so I could give a decent translation but, well, it isn't.  This is what I think, more or less, the label says:

St Genevieve looking after the sheep

The patroness of Paris is shown in a curious megalithic stone circle something something Paris as seen from the east; from left to right we can recognize the Bastille, the Temple tower, the enclosure (not, as I first thought, the pregnancy) of Charles V and the hill and abbey of Montmartre.

Like Dr Who, I have two hearts at the moment.  One is a Slightly Jones heart, beating away, pumping blood around the final pages of The Case of the Hidden City which is set in Paris (where I saw this painting).  The other heart is my Silver Skin heart, currently in a state of suspended hibernation, beating hardly at all and yet despite appearances, definitely not dead - Juliet before Romeo blundered into the tomb, not after.  And Silver Skin is set in the late Stone Age and features more than one "megalithic stone circle" ...

Is it a sign?  A portent?  A something else that means sign or portent?  Probably not.  But it is ... curious.

*Musee Carnavalet

** Here is an image that you can zoom in on.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Glenn Gould - Good Advice

Park Bench Sculpture of Glenn Gould 
outside the Canadian Broadcasting Centre

I'm over on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure today, dispensing good advice from the Canadian phenomenon Glenn Gould (1932-1982).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What I Mean When I Say I am Working as an Artist

Because I'd posted on Wednesday - The Next Big Things come out mid-week - I thought I wouldn't blog this weekend.  And then I read this article by Harry Giles about the realities, good and bad, of an artist's way of life, and I wanted to share.

What I Mean When I Say I am Working as an Artist 

Interesting reading, particularly the sections on How my hours break down and How the money works.  (Thanks to Linda Cracknell for flagging this up on Facebook.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Next Big Thing - My Turn!

Last week Lari Don, author of, among others, the First Aid for Fairies series, kindly tagged me as one of her 5 authors for The Next Big Thing.  This is a book/writer recommendation/don’t worry it’s not THAT sort of chain thing that involves me answering some questions – see below! – and then passing the NBT baton on to 5 other authors who I delicately draw to your attention to enhance your general reading delight – see below that!

And here we go …

• What is the title of your new book?

The newest Slightly Jones Mystery which came out this year is called The Case of the Cambridge Mummy.  I’m now hard at work on the fourth – The Case of the Hidden City, which takes Slightly – and me – to Paris.  (I love my job!)

• Where did the idea come from for the book?

The series is about a Victorian girl who is desperate to become as great a detective as Sherlock Holmes, and each of the crimes she investigates take place in a different city, in a different Victorian museum.  The idea for the first book - The Case of the London Dragonfish - came to me as I was being shooed out of the Natural History Museum in London.

• What genre does your book fall under?

These are Victorian detective adventures for readers aged 8-12.

• What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Can I go for Tilda Swinton when she was a girl, to play Slightly? 

• What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The Case of the Cambridge Mummy:  Bicycles – bloomers - a cursed Egyptian necklace - the mysterious destruction of ancient artefacts – things are looking grim in wintry Cambridge.

The Case of the Hidden City:  Beneath the streets of Paris lie mysterious secrets – can Slightly find her way to the answers in the dark, as the water rises and the roof threatens to cave in … ? 

(Okay, I admit that's stretching the "one sentence" concept a bit.  Well, a lot.  Never mind.) 

• Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The series is published by Catnip Books, and my agents are Fraser Ross Associates.

• How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About 3 months.  And then the editing begins.

• What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody Mysteries feel like Slightly Jones for grown-ups to me – I love them!

• Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Museums are bursting with stories – I can’t go into one without being accosted on every side by some artefact demanding a place in my next book!

• What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

How about a greenly glowing long-dead Egyptian queen stalking the corridors?  Or getting lost in tunnels full of human bones? 

Right – questions answered – and now it’s on to my list of 5 authors well worthy of the accolade The Next Big Thing!  In alphabetical order:

Gill Arbuthnott - author of Lost at the Zoo, The Keeper's Daughter, and Germ Wars - and that's just a taste!

Emma Barnes - whose most recent book Wolfie is about a oddly large dog ... 

 Jo Cotterill - One of the founders of the awesomely successful group blog Girls Heart Books and author of the Sweet Hearts series.

Barry Hutchison - the man behind the "deliciously nightmarish" Invisible Fiends series and one of the men behind the excellently useful online resource for parents and teachers - Start the Story

Susan Price - Powerhouse of another group blog - Do Authors Dream of Electric Books? - and author of, among many others, The Sterkam Handshake and The Sterkam Kiss.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

An Aside

October was a noteworthy month for the online me - this blog had over 1,000 viewings (1,013 to be exact) AND my website had its first visitor from Iraq.  So ...


Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Peach from Plum

Everybody has safe-haven books or writers - the ones you turn to when there's too much grayness in the world, or when you just feel the need of a treat.  I'm lucky enough to have someone as prolific PG Wodehouse (aka Plum) as one of mine.  Re-reading his books is a delight but I also keep stumbling over ones I've never read before - Big Money, written in 1931, for example.  I've only started but already I feel better!  And to share just a bit of the pleasure, I give you this brief essay into the world of beards ... 

"The bearded man was now eating some sort of fish with sauce on it.  And Berry, watching him intently, became gripped by a suspicion that grew stronger each moment.  That beard, he could swear, was a false one.  It was so evidently hampering its proprietor.  He was pushing bits of fish through it in the cautious manner of an explorer blazing a trail through a strong forest.  In short, instead of being a man afflicted by nature with a beard, and as such more to be pitied than censured, he was a deliberate putter-on of beards, a self-bearder, a fellow who, for who knew what dark reasons, carried his own private jungle around with him, so that any moment he could dive into it and defy pursuit.  It was childish to suppose that such a man could be up to any good."

Cheers!  Joan.