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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shipping News

Well, the books on ships have arrived and I've -sort of - started. I've made mind maps and timelines and even a retrospective Stravaganza scrapbook, covering all four titles so far. It was the perfect use of a beautiful marbled A4 book I bought in Florence or Siena years ago and it got me well back into Talia. I've even started to write the prologue - just a tiny bit.

Also Daniel Defoe's book on pirates has arrived - hooray!

I got a message on the Chronicles Network this week telling me about how the reader screamed when she read the Stravaganza books so I got her to tell me exactly at what points - very useful!

It's been another of those "revolt of the machines" periods when car, computer, fridge and washing machine all needed attention. All fixed now but at a cost in time and gold bars.

I have commissioned my last issue of Armadillo magazine! So only one more to edit and then I am a free woman. I am starting a children's bookblog, of which you will read more here and on the News section of the website. I'll write it seriously in the New Year.

Meanwhile I've been editing books for friends and am just into a full length adult novel from a Ty Newydd student - very promising.

I heard Brahms third symphony in the recording by Claudio Abbado, which was the one recomended by CD review on Radio 3. It's very fine and authoritatively written - though I found the coda at the end of the first movement rather weak.

I saw two episodes of Simon Schama's America programme. His manner as a presenter is pretty maddening and there aren't many ideas per episode but it's still interesting and I think I'll stick it out.

I am still reading War and Peace - about half way through its 1215 pages and loving it. The only other thing I've been able to read, apart from friends' texts and the newspaper, is a "short" story for Italian. 27 pages by Percoto - story called "Il Licof" which is a Friulian word meaning the dinner given by landowners at the end of a harvest to the workers. But boy was it short of ideas in relation to its length. I'm seriously thinking of chucking this term's course because it's all these 19th century stories until about the last week when it's Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini, which I've read (and seen the film). Great stuff but can I really afford the time to read these long turgid stories all term when I should be writing City of Ships?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fire and Hemlock and explosions

I did my panel event in Bath with Diana Wynne Jones and Sarah Prineas and it was good. This in spite of an explosion in a parallel road just before (not sinister). While we were waiting in the Green Room I asked Diana to sign Fire and Hemlock for me and she volunteered that she had just read and enjoyed The Falconer's Knot. And she told me there was a monastery where I had invented one!

I had an enormous French meal with the Quercus gang afterwards and stayed in an eccentric hotel in a room up many flights of stairs.

I enjoyed this year's Guardian Award party much more than last year's and was able to tell Frank Cottrell Boyce how stunning I thought his Auschwitz play was.

I've managed to finish the first round of Troubadour edits and have also proofread the re-issue of Special Powers. Books have arrived from the London Library so I must start serious City of Ships research next week.

Just before I went to Wales we had all three daughters plus partners for all or part of the weekend, culminating in Sunday lunch for all 8 of us. And one of the few sunny days, so we could be in the garden afterwards.

Then on Monday I drove over 200 miles to Ty Newydd, where I was teaching a course with Celia Rees. It was brilliant but exhausting. It was the house Lloyd George owned and indeed died in - in the room we used for evening meetings. Marcus Sedgwick was our visiting speaker midweek and sat in the death spot - with no ill effects..

Much too much good food and wine and only one walk - down to the sea where we saw nine swans.

I re-read Fire and Hemlock, loving it as much as ever. Am now reading the new translation of War and Peace, so that will keep me busy for a while. Oh, and I've joined Facebook, which is another good displacement activity.