Sunday, 21 March 2010

I've been a bit busy...

My computer ate a whole blog post the other day and I’ve failed to persuade it to regurgitate it, so instead here’s a little round up of some of the things I’ve been busy with..

1) School visits. Three to be precise, getting used to talking about writing and books and having lots of eyes looking at me. Don’t feel I’ve exactly cracked it yet, but I’m getting there. I learned that if you sign your books ‘love Keren’ then teenage boys will look distressed, and that if you have a picture of yourself in your book in thinner days with straightened hair and no glasses, then every teenage girl will ask you why you haven’t straightened your hair that day.
I’ve had some great questions:
- Q: Miss, are you going to make your book into a film?
- A: Much as I’d love to I have to wait for a film producer to offer me ots of money to take my book away and make it into a film> Do any of you know any film producers?
- Q: Miss, what is shorthand? (I’d been telling them about my early days in journalism, back in the days of manual typewriters and hand-fed fax machines)
- A. Shorthand is the most useful thing I ever learned. It means you can write very quickly, every word that someone says. It teaches you more about writing dialogue than any MA in creative writing.
- Q: Miss, would you like to have interviewed someone in witness protection for your book? (Brilliant question this, from a boy at St Aubyns School in Woodford)
- A. Yes and no. Yes I’d love to talk to someone who’d had a similar experience to Ty and find out the details of their witness protection. No if it meant their story took over my imagination to the point where I couldn’t make things up.

2) I was completely obsessed by the case of Jon Venables and tried hard to write a blog post about it. I felt I had so much to say - about false identities, about bereaved parents, about rehabilitation in adult prisons..I was privileged to visit the Special Unit at Barlinnie Prison a few years before it closed down, a stunningly radical experiment in the British prison system. I had problems finishing the post, because Sky helpfully cut off our internet, and then the Jewish Chronicle asked me to write this.
3) Proof-reading. I’m on the second reading of the bound proofs of Almost True and so far I’ve got five pages of notes. Plus a few of the lovely people who won copies at my online launch parties have been reading and contacted me with their thoughts – thanks Mary for great info about dogs. Fish has learned a new word thanks to me. She who must not be named is reading too.
4) Outline writing. I’m working on a new book, shaping the characters, setting out some plot ideas, in a whirl of ideas and possibilities and questions. In the midst of all this, and with three chapters more or less written, I have to write an outline for my agent…which is a bit like writing your postcards six months before you go on the holiday. Anyway, I’m really bad at it, all my writing skills leave me and I find it difficult to put two words together.
5) Birthday! Celebrated my birthday by going to see Measure for Measure at the Almeida Theatre, absolutely my favourite Shakespeare play…sex and death, vice and corruption all served up as a comedy. And a brilliant production, where Anna Maxwell Martin and Rory Kinnear shine. And the whole family went out for curry, and I bought some gorgeous perfume and all in all it was a lovely day.
6) Writing Group. It’s all got very exciting at our writing group, with two members signing with agents recently and their (fabulous) books out with publishers. And another member Becky Jones has a new book (written with Clare Lewis) coming out in May - London Adventure Walks for Families: Tales of a City, published by Frances Lincoln, who, as they are also my publishers are a kind of in-house publishing company for my writing group, completely coincidentally.
7) Passover is approaching. Theoretically it's a Jewish festival which about big themes like freedom, liberation from slavery and exodus. Practically it's about mega-spring cleaning, turning your kitchen upside down, shopping and general panicking. I can’t even think about this one right now. I may have to give it a proper post all of its own later in the week.
8) And then there’s work…and seeing friends….and reading…and stuff with the kids…and trying to get some exercise…oh and there’s writing. I need to get back into my writing rhythm. I will, soon…I hope…


  1. Wow, busy doesn't seem like a big enough word to describe all the different things you have going on right now. Your writing group sounds like it has some special magic!

  2. This sounds like a good kind of busy.

    Do you think years of teaching sex education, and hosting open question sessions with up to 60 kids would count as good preparation? ;)

  3. I am willing to bet that everyone else knows what twiddle means. It is just you...maybe you've never had anything to twiddle?

    Yes, it is a magic writing group. Hoping to have some announcements to make soon.

    Elaine - sounds like you'd take a school visit in your stride...

  4. Interesting comment about the shorthand, Keren. My mother worked as a secretary with touch typing and shorthand. She forced me to learn touch typing one summer when I was 16 or so. I was reluctant and grumpy, but now I sometimes think that skill has stood me in better stead than my degree. And I've always envied her the shorthand. I secretly think she's one of life's frustrated creative writers as I remember poems and letters from her all through my childhood.

  5. Sounds like you're having a busy time there! Don't forget to keep breathing.

  6. I'm very jealous - I would love to write a novel and get it published! x

  7. Ah Kitty, we're ALL jealous, lol.

  8. Usually after a busy time it calms down...for a minute or two :) Enjoy it!