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

Monday, September 27, 2004


Well, the Icelandic programme has now arrived in Norwegian - is this progress? Still, it would appear that I am required to do very little in return for my 5 day trip. And we get a tour of the Golden Triangle on Sunday, which is natural beauties like geysers and a waterfall with a permanent rainbow.

I've had an e-mail about the Japanese edition of City of Stars. The translation is coming out at about 700 pages and they want to split it into two volumes. Today I heard that they want to make the break at chapter 14, in medias res. It all seems very odd but I mustn't knock it. The Japanese advance for City of Masks made a nice dent in the cost of our new kitchen.

I've been reading another book about Brunelleschi for the short story I should write for the Stravaganza website as a teaser for City of Flowers. But most of the week has gone on writing up notes and answering e-mails.It hasn't felt like a writer's week but some of them are like that.

The Reading Our World leaflet arrived this week. It's a slim booklet, funded by the Arts Council and Book Trust, to be distributed to all London Primary Schools, featuring "culturally diverse" literature for children. It has an illustration from The Colour of Home on the cover and an introduction by me.

Ironically, the Somalian family with whom I worked on The Colour of Home and whose passport forms I countersigned - they are now British citizens - have been told I'm not suitable because I work from home! So complicated phone calls with the passport office. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Publication moved

I've just found out that City of Flowers will now be published on 7th March and not 7th February. Apparently this will be better for sales but my fans are NOT going to be pleased. Still, I have no control over this.

Gradually things go back to normal after the US trip - perhaps I'll even manage to post my blog on Monday next week. But I wasn't here yesterday - up in London for a meeting of the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG) of the Society of Authors. We were planning next year's conference in Oxford, "The Shock of the New". It's going to be good. There's a lot of activity forthcoming in the field of children's books.

Met with three fellow members of the SAS (Scattered Authors Society) for lunch at a pub in Gloucs. We were going to have a walk afterwards but it poured with rain so we just talked instead. Lots of plots floating around (literary I mean).

Have received an attachment from Iceland with the festival programme - in Icelandic! I hope it will soon follow in English. Otherwise I'll just have to find out what "Hægt er að panta fyrir hópa hjá Ingibjörgu í síma" means. I asked what the weather would be like and they said it was different every day. No change there then.

I wonder if I'll see the Northern Lights?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

City of Flowers proofs are here

Well, I didn't manage it from Massachussetts and we're now back home - have been for six days. I returned to the usual heaps of post, phone messages and e-mails, but was able to check and answer enough of these last while away not to be overwhelmed.

New York was amazing. A real emotional rollercoaster:
• Lunch with Bloomsbury USA and people from Publishing News, Barnes and Noble, School Library Journal etc.
• Meeting with Lauri Hornik at Penguin USA
• Sombre visit to Ground Zero
• Session in Brooklyn with 36 children's and young adult librarians plus 11 children, all black, with Sickle Cell Anaemia
• Boat trip round New York Harbour the night before the wedding
• Lunch at the fabulous Zen Palate vegetarian restaurant in Union square
• Dinner on the Upper East Side with Phyllis Fogelman and her husband Erwin Baker. Phyllis, now retired was the editor who took Amazing Grace at Dial
• The fabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art where I saw, bizarrely, an Andy Goldsworthy installation on the roof and met my (step) mother-in-law from England in the lift on the way down.
• Just living in Greenwich Village for a week
• Meeting Ben Thompson and his girlfriend Lydia. Ben is Sian Williams' son, an old friend from the 70s when she and her husband Glenn Thompson were starting the Writers and Readers Co-operative. He and Lydia are film-makers
• Avoiding the Republican Convention and buying anti-Bush memorabilia in the road next to ours
• Going to the hairdresser in twos while the other two sat in the Waverly diner. At one time there were all four of us in the diner and no-one in the hairdressers but they were trusting!
• My niece's wedding at Columbia University. She wore red with gold jewellery and looked fabulous. We five were all gussied up - shall post a picture on the website. A very happy occasion.

Then Boston and Plymouth, where we saw
• The Aquarium
• One Simone Martini and one by each Lorenzetti brother (all Crucifixions) in the Fogg Museum
• Two families of pilot whales on our whale watching trip (plus a humpback, a basking shark, a shoal of tuna and two ?bola-bolas ( a fish))
• Seals basking on the rocks while we breakfasted on the deck of our B&B on the ocean. Blue heron too.
• The Plimoth [sic] Plantation, a reconstructed Pilgrim Village
• Martha's Vineyard, which was surprisingly like a tourist stretch of Cornish coast - all cafes, shops and ice-cream parlours
• Dear friends on our last night in Boston

Then home and a day spent flying and a night not sleeping. But am over the jetlag quickly and just as well, since the page proofs have arrived for City of Flowers. It makes a hefty 496 pages and I have till 15th October to proofread it. All this week has gone on mail and on editing the next edition of Armadillo (

Have had a lovely e-maIL from a new fan who is going to design a dress and mask for Arianna for her AS in Textiles. I think I have the nicest fans in the world.