Yesterday I went to the opening of The English Touring Opera show, for which my daughter was the designer. It was an operatic adaptation of the classic picture book by John Burningham, 'Borka, the Goose with no Feathers', and performed in a newish building at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
I went with a friend, in her car, for which I was grateful, because I had picked up the current London lurgy, and was feeling dreadful. I was so glad I hadn't cancelled, though, which I was tempted to do, because the production was amazing, and the reactions of the very young audience fascinating (I was intrigued, because I've only recently started writing for this age group). This image is courtesy of Robert Hugill http://www.sphericaleditions.co.uk a composer/reviewer who sat next to us (we didn't dare to photograph, because of sensitive feelings around photographing children). It shows (for those of you unfamiliar with the story), Mr and Mrs Plumpster, who are two geese with a problem gosling, Borka, who's been born without any feathers. This production will now be on the road, so check it out if it's coming to a school near you - it's brilliant.
The book I've just finished reading is Terry Pratchett's 'Interesting Times' - three hundred and fifty one pages, and he manages to be funny on every one, right up to the end. I call that genius. I don't read him often, but it's been a difficult month for me, and I needed cheering up, because at this time last year, my beloved husband, David, died suddenly of a heart attack.
Books are like meals. There are lengthy, satisfying ones, and ones that leave you still hungry at the end. There are ones you go back to, like well-established family grub that tastes slightly different each time because it's home-made, and then there are ready meals which are useful for filling a gap. There are gourmet treats, which you have to taste, re-taste, and savour - a lot of poetry falls into this category - and then there are sweetmeats. Terry Prachett's work reminds me of an old-fashioned sherbert-filled sweet which fizzed in the mouth, but which had a hard exterior you had to suck through - in other words, there's a backbone of seriousness in all his books, and they would not be as satsfying without it.
I love being sent a publisher's brief, because a. it's challenging, and b. it means they still think I can do it (and we still traditionally published authors are always pathetically grateful for these scraps that come our way). This year I had two. The first challenge was to write a proper book with chapters for emerging very young readers. This first hurdle I jumped successfully, with a book called: The Night of the Were Boy, which is a crazy little story about a 'were' cat who, when affected by the full moon, turns into a small boy. The second was even more challenging - an eighty word story for even younger readers. Eighty words? It's the length of a joke! But I managed to produce four of these, which were liked by my editor, but which still have to make the finishing line. Fingers crossed.
performance o Terry Pratchett/Borka/briefs/