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, December 06, 2004

Let it snow!

A determined assault has been made on Christmas, owing to the discovery that today was the last guaranteed posting day for cards to Australia. So a quick flurry of card-writing, inspired partly by the fact that on Friday we went to the turning on of the Christmas lights at Bourton-on-the-Water. Somehow it always brings the magic on, seeing the one solitary reindeer, in spite of the crowds around it, and drinking plastic thimblefuls of mulled wine in the shops. I bought only three chocolate Santas but made lots of lists. (Let's keep our priorities straight)

Writer daughter Rhiannon suggested a website called to give extra inspiration, particularly for men. Trouble was, Jessica got on to it and discovered Instant Snow (just add water) and I think will be very disappointed if she doesn't find some in her Christmas stocking.

On Sunday, went to lunch with nice Liz Lindsay (SAS), whose next door neighbour is Italian, from Rome, finishing a PhD on drama and translation. She was extremely knowledgeable about early 14th-century Franciscanism in Umbria - and wasn't even a mediaevalist! How do you know so much, I wondered, and was told that Italians are well taught history in school. She will be an invaluable consultant. Thank you, Liz.

I can't do my "presentazione" at my last Italian class of term tomorrow, since the book I had ordered from an Italian online bookshop, with express delivery, is not going to arrive. After nine days, I telephoned, and had two e-mails back the same day telling me 1/ that it was out of print and 2/ it was out of stock. These are automatically generated so you can't write back and say, "These are not the same thing!" And I can't face ringing them again.

This week has begun well, though, with a phone call from Graziella Rossi from the contrada of Valdimontone in Siena. I had sent her a copy of City of Stars in Italian, in which she gets an acknowledgment for showing us round the museum and making sure we had tickets for the street dinner on the night before the Palio. She was so sweet about it and so full of offers to help with future books. Maybe I'll pop over and see her after Bologna. I have her e-mail address now.

The Italian for @ is "chiocciola" (kyOchola), which means "snail" - how nice is that? And Chiocciola is one of Siena's contrade too - very strange to be a competitor in a race and be called Snail or Caterpillar or Porcupine.

The cover of Bravo, Grace! has arrived, in light purple, with Jacqueline Wilson's kind words on the back. I'm told the City of Flowers one is due imminently. It's very hard to concentrate on work with all this Christmas going on - our shopping day is next Wednesday and we're going to see a Nativity play based on my Three Wise Women in a school in Lambeth on Friday afternoon. We've seen it before there - and An Angel Just Like Me. They must be my most enthusiastic fans.

I'm going to the Edinburgh Festval next year - must make a list of all the appearances and remember not to let them interfere with the writing. Nice long train journeys + laptop will be a help.

Must go - have some snow to order