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 29, 2007


To London two evenings running, the first to celebrate publication of Helen Ward's Wonderful Life for Templar, which is a gorgeous picture book. My wonderful SatNav (known as Tim) got me there, evn though it involved three different motorways. He says, so calmly "Take the exit, then take the motorway" that I just do it.

I was a bit late and missed the drinks before but met several old friends and sat next to Helen whose work I'm a great fan of. Then back to London the next day, this time by coach, for Shirley Hughes' 80th birthdya party. She doesn't look or seem a day older than when it was her 70th and gave us a nice slide show.

I spent the night with a writer friend and next day met an independent publicist, who might be able to do some work for me.

I've spent a lot of time since I last blogged writing a piece for the Guardian Women's editor on why I hate princesses, fairies, mermaids and all things pink and girly in children's books. It had to be done in a hurry to coincide with the publication of Princess Grace (which attempts to subvert the genre) next week.

Then to the Bloomsbury 21st Birthday Party, which had over a thousand people! I thought I'd never find anyone I knew but actually managed to meet lots. Four of us went out for a quick plate of pasta and conversation that didn't have to be bellowed in one another's ears. And I met my editor, copy editor and even Nigel Newton on leaving. He still remembers my tour of Bellezza, which I did in Venice at the 2002 sales conference! They had a wonderful living statue representing their Diana logo - the only publishing house to use a weapon of war as its logo, as Nigel pointed out menacingly in his speech.

I didn't get back home till 1.30am , carrying my balloon on the Oxford Tube.

Through a series of mishaps involving e-mail, I hadn't received my editor's rave about City of Secrets, so it's a great relief to have discovered last week that she loves it. Phew! On to the next book.

I'm STILL reading La Storia - it has 650 pages! - but nearly finished now. I broke off to read Sheila Hancock's The Two of Us, which I picked up at the party. Very moving, intelligent and well-written.

I heard Colin Davis conduct his 80th birthday concert on the radio last night - Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. It's lovely to feel in such a safe pair of hands - like Shirley. These are my kind of octegenarian. I wonder if I'll get the chance to be the same?


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