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

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Palm Sunday in Bilbao

We spent Saturday to Monday in Bilbao, primarily to see Frank Gehry's Guggenheim museum - an absolutely stunning building. But we had the bonus of see the Palm Sunday procession of the Burriquito ( a wooden donkey carried on a float, with a model of jesus on her back) There were also scads of people in robes with huge tall pointed hoods with eye-holes. This was horrifically reminiscent of the KKK or perhaps more appropriately Spanish Inquisition, but some of them were little children. The procession went on for hours, with teams of people from different churches or districts, all carrying huge palm fronds.

We stayed at a lovely hotel, in spite of all this having been booked rather lastminutely on the Net, and some nice meals out - even though vegetarianism was a difficult concept for the Spanish. The second evening's was at a place right near the Zubizuri bridge, another architectural wonder by Santiage Calatrava, who also designed the Bilbao airport. Jess was in her seventh heaven.

But it was so strange feeling that I ought to be able to speak and understand the language and yet not. It will be a relief to get back to Italy next month and commuincate instead of pointing and using only nouns!

To Cirencester yesterday for an SAS lunch at the Farm Shop cafe - all organic and vegetarian and Fair Trade coffee - lovely! Much discussion oin whether we enjoyed doing school visits or not. Some people are skilled performers, especially the ex-teachers. And some of course rely on it for income.

A TV company is pitching to make Amazing Grace into a live action TV series and my film rights to Stravaganza are now being handled by my agent so things are looking up!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Promoted (or, if you like, Blackberries)

I have been SO busy since my last post! I have been travelling around the country, visting three Secondary Schools, in Wales, London and Bishop's Stortford, and then doing two days' signing of City of Flowers in London. I have slept in four different beds besides my own since my last blog! And seen a lot more snow.

And what has it all achieved - who can possibly tell? The PowerPoint presentation has gone down well, as have the props - three talismans and a dagger, plus the heavenly room scent from Santa Maria Novella. And the writing workshops were fascinating - lots of students designing their own cities.

City of Flowers has had its first review - a highly favourable one in Italy magazine, appropriately enough. And the e-mails are pouring in from fans, some of whom got it early. But some waited for Harrods, where I signed a hundred copies (not all for people who were there, I hasten to say). And another hundred for Goldsborough books in Cecil Court where they do a great trade in signed First Editions for the American market. The nice men there offered coffee, water or red wine, all at 11am. One of them showed me his Black Berry - that device for getting and sending e-mails wherever you are that got Alistair Campbell into such trouble with the BBC. Another nice man at the Pan Bookshop in Fulham gave us blackcurrant tart, while I was signing, which he called blackberry pie.

I think I signed a further 160 copies at Bloomsbury and I stayed at a wonderfully eccentric hotel with four-poster bed and claw-footed bath.

Ironically, i didn't see my editor; she was too involved in the forthcoming sales conference. But she managed to e-mail an offer to my agent for The Falconer's Knot and another historical novel, so I heard about that on the coach back to Oxford - bizarre.

I managed to have a visit from Ann Jungmann and we talked about some workshops she is going to do on Monsters. And have two new Oxfordshire friends for an Italian meal. And then, unexpectedly, I made three pots of Bramble Jelly from the blackberries we picked last autumn and froze.

Oh, and the first copy of Bravo, Grace! has arrived, looking very nice and purple, with its endorsement from Jacqueline Wilson on the back. And Barefoot Books are going to paperback Clever Katya this autumn.

Am now at home for a whole blissful week before needing to spend another night away. I think I'll give up on promotion after this year; it is much more tiring than writing.