If you’ve come here for more information about Turning Point, the November conference on Young Adult Fiction, scroll down to see the main two entries. There’s been no official publicity yet, just emails, but we’ve had a steady stream of bookings. This month, the conference was awarded an ‘Arts For Everyone’ grant, which is great news. For a start, it means that we’ll be able to pay the writers properly. I’ve been holding off contacting more novelists about appearing until I knew the result of the grant application. Now I’m holding off because everybody in publishing seems to be on holiday until next week (and our administrator’s on holiday until the week after), but I’m open to offers…Stop Press: Kevin Brooks, author of the excellent ‘Martyn Pig’, also ‘Lucas’ and ‘Kissing The Rain’, has just accepted an invitation to appear.
Regular readers of this web-site will be expecting a few summer links or at least some stuff about how the eBay book is doing (about to go into a third printing – thanks for asking). So here we go: my colleague Graham Joyce has just sent off his second YA novel to Faber and you can read all about that here. Martin (who has just moved his site so that it looks and works much better), Mike, Ben and I went to see a one off show by Sons And Daughters and the Fiery Furnaces at Stealth the other night (there’s a review of the show at Ben’s blog) and both were terrific. It’s the second time I’ve seen The Fiery Furnaces exciting, non-stop medley cum collage of their fine songs (mostly several songs in one) and it was a privilege to see them close up in a tiny club, then have a few words with Eleanor afterwards, telling her how I first discovered their music on the spendid musicblog Said The Gramophone. Their album ‘Blueberry Boat’ is out next week and I already have the song ‘Inspector Blancheflower’ echoing round my head, ready to go on ‘repeat’. Get it.
The other album I’m really looking forward to is American Music Club’s reunion album, ‘Songs For Patriots.’ To remind me how good they can be, I’ve been listening to their best two albums ‘Everclear’ and “Mercury’ this week. The second Libertines album is exciting, shambolic punk rock and the new p j Harvey sounds very promising. Bjork’s ‘Medulla’ is on Amazon order, along with Jonathon Coe’s new novel, ‘The Closed Circle’. Other reading? Lots of YA novels, short stories and a fascinating biography of Patricia Highsmith, one of my favourite writers. This, along with a volume of her uncollected short stories kept me going through the very rainy days that punctuated our July holiday in Pembrokeshire. I’m currently on Stepan Collishaw’s second novel, ‘Amber’, a literary thriller set in Lithuania and Afghanistan, which is a great read.
Since our holiday, I’ve been helping out a bit on our allotment, doing eBay interviews and preparing for my first full year running the MA in Creative Writing at NTU. Since neither of my agents read this site, I can confess that not a lot of fiction has been written (I start tomorrow, honest). We also managed to cram in a drive to Northumberland to stay with some old friends and see Peter Mortimer’s new play about Hadrian’s wall, ‘Off The Wall’. Author and cast are walking along the wall every day (averaging about twelve miles) before performing in villages along the way. Last Thursday night they were in Humshaugh village hall, where a spendid time was had by all, with author and cast joining us for a jolly at our friends’ house afterwards. Earlier in the day, the rain held off while we walked along Hadrian’s Wall ourselves.
Finally, good luck to our godson, Harry, who starts secondary school tomorrow. I’m off to have lunch with him now.