A little while ago, I was sent a signed copy of Tabitha Suzuma's Young Adult novel, Hurt. As with many online writer 'friends' on Facebook, ours has grown into something gratifyingly like a real friendship, and since we both live in London, I have no doubt that, one day, we will meet. Pain is something we share - mine from losing David and hers for very different and more complex reasons.
I rarely finish reading a complex and challenging novel in a day, but that Sunday was a bad day for me - Sundays tend to be - so because it was an unexpected gift, I began reading it. I am a slow reader (David, by contrast, was a book-gobbler) so I didn't expect it to occupy my whole day, but it did. The writing is exquisite, and the plot brilliant. It's not easy to grab a reader's attention right up to the last word, but she did it. Please don't be put off by its "Young Adult" labelling - so many Y/A novels are crossover, and this one certainly was. Incidentally, might there be an "Old Adult" genre? Silly responses, please. And as for the "Adult" genre, well that word has been well and truly corrupted - might well be re-named the: "Oh look, I've got genitals" genre.
This is the first cover image for my first published book: The Time Tree. It took me almost ten years to get it accepted, mostly because I was very busy doing other design-orientated things, but also because I really had no idea about the children's book market apart from the fact that I absolutely loved reading to my children. I'd had quite a decent small publishing career via short stories for magazines, and even acquired an agent, but writing a book was something else, and only came about because I'd made up a lengthy story for my daughter and her best friend, and they both wanted me to write it down so that they could read it again.
The Time Tree seemed to grab people, and it stayed in print for ages, acquiring a new cover image in the process (the first one was deemed to be old-fashioned). It attracted film interest - first from a small and very niche film company in Switzerland who wanted to translate it into the Bernois dialect and manipulate the plot. Thankfully, it didn't happen. At present it's with a company called Wild Thyme Productions, which is, fortunately, London-based, but whether it happens depends, as usal, on money, and making films is expensive. The story's about a profoundly deaf Elizabethan child, treated, of course, like an idiot, in spite of her well-meaning family, who somehow makes contact with a couple of very 20/21st century girls, best friends who are on the cusp of leaving primary school.
Lastly, I want to tell you about Pipeline Theatre's extraordinary play - first, because Pipeline is our daughter's company, but secondly because Spillikin has been conceived and written by playwright Jon Welch.
Alzheimer's seems to be the topic of the moment, with the best-selling novel - Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. Spillikin is a love story - yes, you have to believe it. It opened briefly in Cornwall, will be moving to Latitude in Suffolk, and then on to Edinbrough - the festival. It features a real, working robot. If you can, go and see it, and having seen it, if you're moved by it, tell people, tell the world. Alzheimer's made off with one of my favourite writers, the incomparable Terry Pratchett, and it's time we put a stop to it.