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

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Clearing up the debris after finishing a novel is a bit like the joys of Twelfth Night. Books restored to shelves, borrowed titles returned to the London Library, notes filed and several wallet files put into a cupboard. And at last all those jobs that have had to wait are getting done - two batches of marmalade, sorting through my entire collection of family phoitographs as part of the great renewal after several albums were destroyed by damp, having a big book sort out etc.

We ordered two new bookcases in November to help with the overflow but they have only just arrived. We collected them from Wantage and spent a happy few hours yesterday re-organising large Art books (I had bought so many of Simone Martini and Assisi for The Falconer's Knot), history and also contemporary paperback novels. I decided not to keep Maggie O'Farrell's "After You'd Gone." It is SO miserable and I shall never read it again.

It seems to me easy to write about misery and sorrow. What is hard is to leave the reader convincingly uplifted. I've just finished reading The Kite Runner, which is a great favourite with most people, including Book Groups, but I found the redemptive ending both contrived and predictable like eveerything else in the book. Very readable nonetheless.

I've been thginking about film a lot this week. Fiona Kenshole came to the Society of Authors to talk about her job as Head of Scouting [sic] for an animated film company in the States. What is needed for a successful animated "family film" appears tro be a plot that requires little by way of emotional reaction on the faces of characters, plenty of humour, sentiment (for the US audience particularly), something like a Quest structure, and preferably talking animals. I must write something with all this in mind.

Linda Aronson spent the afternoon here on Thursday. As well as being a very funny writer for teenagers (Kelp, Rude Health, Plain Rude), she has a second career as a script doctor for TV and film internationally, as well as writing her own scripts. She was lovely: perceptive, bright, interesting and with some great ideas. We talked our heads off for five hours and I was really sorry to see her go. She'll be back in August (they live in Sydney) and we'll try to get her husband, a Professor Emeritus of Law, to come out here too next time.

One of the highlights of the week was a lovely fan e-mail from a French girl.Phrases like "As of the first time when my eyes fell on the cover of your book I had a thunderbolt and I am say: this book has the brilliant air it is necessary absolutely that I buy myself him" were very cheering.