Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I'm in Stylist!

Or rather The Whicharts is, thanks to Lucy Mangan adding it to her 'Five New Books I Cannot Wait to Read' list on p. 25 if you follow the hyperlink and p. 23 if you have the paper copy of Issue 74 (20 April 2011). I'm delighted and must write a quick email to her to thank her. The news came as a very nice shock and, yes, I have kept a paper copy for myself. Even better, if anyone clicks on on the online copy, a neatly hidden hyperlink takes them straight to my website.

In other news, I'm still having fun with Amazon. It seems that I can only be listed on the UK site, but there is a redirect from the US page - so US fans can purchase the book at a very reasonable price if they look there and then try the redirect. It's a bit convoluted, though I do post books within 2 working days.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sunshine and technology

It's a wonderful spring day and I am hunched over the computer trying to untangle an intricate piece of website design. One of those occasions where the learning curve is frustratingly vertical. However, if I cannot sell on US Amazon if I don't have a US bank account, I can make sure that my site does have copies of The Whicharts ready to airmail (and I do). It seems that last month US site visitors outnumbered the UK-based readers for the first time. That's interesting and I'm keen to see why. Possibly also hint that books are good Easter presents. Or that a holiday weekend is the perfect time to order the new books you'd been admiring.

As soon as I finish this, I intend sitting in the sun with a nice cold drink and Katie Fforde's new novel. Summer of Love looks promising and I'll say more just as soon as I finish it.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

New-to-me authors (again)

Another reason why I like the British Library - just being able to search, order and read through an author's list. I don't suppose I would even have found Music at Pendragon (Paula Harris, 1959) if I hadn't been searching ABE for books illustrated by Ruth Gervis. It's the story of a music summer school and the ambitions and adventures of a group of teenagers in Cornwall - will they rise to the heights of soloist or be jobbing second desk viola players or find their niche in a related (hitherto unthought-of) field? The Ballet Shoes illustrations are so familiar to me that it's a bit of a shock to see her distinctive style covering Dior-ish generous skirts or lanky teenage boys sprawling in armchairs. A stately home in Cornwall houses a summer school for musicians of all ages each summer - think of the Christmas dancing school in The Abbey Girls in Town without the class snobbery or the folk dancing and you're on the right track. I'd recommend this author if you like 'performing' books and stories of sunshine, teas and music that's less 'show-offy, stage school beast' than Pamela Brown's gawky children. These are confident young people, but those living in ordinary middle-class households in the London suburbs, not 'country' children at all. Far from picnic-ing all over the countryside, like the outdoors-y types in Blyton, Ransome and similar of the pre-War age of children's fiction, these post-War children go home for supper and worried mothers ask their locust-like teenagers not to invite too many friends home as there isn't enough food in the house. The period overuse of 'my children' to refer to anyone younger than you are is one of those phrases that makes me flinch, but one that's easily ignored. Madrigals, classical and pop music are all given attention and enjoyed for their own sake - I like that inclusivity, rare in girl's own books, which often have an awkward relationship with "modern" teenagers and their interest in the present, not the idealised past so beloved of the author. These are teenagers familiar with suburban railway journeys home on the last train or wandering down the South Bank after a concert at the Festival Hall. I've had to do all of my Paula Harris reading in the BL. One day there may yet be an affordable copy of Star in the Family, though Cressida and the Opera (Gilbert and Sullivan coaxes a shy schoolgirl out of her shell) is probably the more interesting of the pair.