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, September 08, 2007


I had a proper weekend last week, with middle daughter and boyfriend here to visit and oldest daughter and boyfriend joining us for lunch on the Sunday. Steve is very fond of pie, famously so, so I made one using the apples and blackberries from our own garden. But during the week I went blackberrying with Stevie (husband) at Old Minster Lovell and came home with two bags. Now I need to make lots of bramble jelly!

Youngest daughter, back from Thailand is now with her boyfriend in London till the start of term, so the great tidy up here post book has continued unhindered. I have reorganised my archive so that there is more cupboard space in the study, done all my filing and answered two months' worth of fanmail.

My agent was here on Friday and loves City of Secrets as, so far, does my English editor; she hasn't finished yet but I hope to hear next week. I heard this week that The Falconer's Knot is on the Guardian short-list, announced today, which is very pleasing. Just to be in this place is good.

I also wrote a book proposal which has been "pending" for too long for a publisher who has been offering me a contract for ages.

And I renewed my passport, which took a record TWO working days! So I can now accept the surprise offer of a school visit to Milan. Honestly, you never know what the e-mail or post will contain.

And today I did an almost impromptu signing at the local Waterstone's with Mark Robson and Jo Kenrick. I met an Australian academic who is writing a paper on neo-mediaevalism and sold him a copy of The Falconer's Knot! Driving there and back I saw the same tiny bird of prey hovering in the air over the verge. Could it have been a Merlin?

I saw two films on TV which I had already seen in the cinema. One was The Queen, which is quite fascinating, although I still hated the hypocrisy of everything to do with the stag. The other was The Full Monty, which impressed me this time by how excellently well-crafted it is. So many high spots. I am reading Elsa Morante's La Storia, which is very compelling. My literature class starts up again at the beginning of October and I hadn't read any novel in Italian since we stopped in April so I felt the need to catch up.

Also read the manuscript of a friend's novel, set in Italy, who is coming to stay next week. We'll work companionably together, I hope.

On the radio I heard Peter Maxwell Davies play on the piano his hauntingly beautiful Farewell to Stromness this morning. It is his 73rd birthday. It is what you should play to anyone who says they don't like modern classical music - short, comprehensible and with a memorable tune. And in the car I listened to the Beatles' Love CD again. So many good songs in so few years. So sad to hear George in While my guitar gently weeps. But I remember clearly the weekend when the Hey Jude single came out with the raucous Revolution on the B side. Still just as exhilarating.


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