Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

High Finance, enjoying being a girl and the real Italy

I love being freelance. Every week is different, every day in fact, and, as long as I meet my deadlines, I can take days off when I need them. So, off to London to meet our financial adviser, just back from maternity leave and in a new firm. We have to take out life insurance on me and there are lots of jokes about how much more I am worth to Stevie alive than dead. But does this refer to my income or my other assets?

To Oxford on Friday on one of the few fine days, with Rhiannon, to buy accessories for the New York wedding. They were going to be pink and we got a hat straightaway, though this was predicted to be the hardest thing. Will do the same in London next week with Bex. It was so hot that we we able to buy sandwiches and eat them on the grass behind Christ Church.

It was so much nicer than a few days before, when I had driven to London in a thunderstorm and it had taken six and a half hours instead of two.... And I couldn't even read. But I could when we went to London by coach and used the time to read Jennifer Donnelly's "A Gathering Light" (Bloomsbury) which won the Carnegie last month. It is American and I deduce from the Afterword that it was originally called "A Northern Light". So I suppose it was changed here to avoid confusion with Philip Pullman.

Anyway, it was gripping and I read it in a day. I don't know if I'll want to read it again but it was much more to my taste than "Ruby Holler" also Bloomsbury, which won last year. Talking of Bloomsbury, the first suggestion for a cover for "City of Flowers" has just come. It is very beautiful, with silver fleur-de-lys all over it as well as on the stopper of the perfume bottle. (Rhiannon says silver on a cover means your publishers love you). Inside the bottle, which is a bit fat at present, you can see a white flower but I've asked for a dagger too so it doesn't look too girly.

I've started the outline for a novel set in the real Italy - in early 14th century Umbria and Le Marche. It's hard, partly because lots of the things I know weren't bulit or painted by then and partly because if you look up these places on the Net, they immediately offer you holidays there.... Clearly I must do some serious research.