Well, this week has been a big one. It was the Hodder Christmas party. However, if you've read Lynne Chapman's blog (which you most certainly should do) this entry will be nearly identical to her last post... only without the fantastic life drawings from her train trip- I, of course, fell asleep and drooled on myself both there and back... and make no apology for it. In fact, I almost feel like just putting a link to her blog here instead and going off to eat mince pies... Unfortunately for you, I've already eaten every morsel and have an un-pastry-laced gap to fill, so here goes.
I'd like to say I arrived fashionably late, swanning in to sighs of awe from the crowds. Unfortunately, I wasn't really late, I was just wearing so many layers it took me an hour to get out of the cloak room... and the only swan was the origami-ed one of clothing detritus I left behind. Note to self: It's hard to look posh, when your upper extremities are trapped in the swathes of a cagoule. Inside my woolly fiasco and increasingly panicked that this wasn't 'the done thing', my opening appearance resembled that of a girl with her head stuck up the bottom of a giant jelly fish. This wouldn't have been so awful if I hadn't had to repeat the unsuccessful operation numerous times, as the party moved venue.
Slightly flustered, and with hair that performed advanced geometry lessons, I skulked into the main room and swiftly buried myself in well-to-do armpit, as I searched for someone I knew. By now it was heaving, and the air was heavy with every women's perfume known to man.... I'm quickly learning that a bloke in publishing is a very rare creature. If you're a heterosexual, lady in publishing and looking for lurrrrrve, I'd advise taking up a pottery evening class.
Anyway, I located the spiky haired lovely, Lynne, and tried not to crush her with the weight of my relief and joy. She was in conversation with an equally gorgeous Hayley Welsh, whom I immediately felt at home talking to. Hayley’s a soft-spoken, Blackpool lass with gigantic suitcases of talent – I’m betting she’s another name to be watching out for in the future. I found pictures of her work on her website afterwards. It's a mark of how nice she is that I still want to be in the same room as her, as her first book (quite mad and mostly produced in paint on the back of cardboard boxes) is going to be amazing!
The three of us cornered art director, Claire, and proceded to be pelted by mini-food trays (is it just me, or do mini-foods just make people feel large and frumpy?!) Certainly, they’re much harder to eat than first they suggest, as you’re never quite sure of what consistency they might be and thus how much ‘pincer’ pressure to apply…
Claire was talking to Melanie Williamson, amidst some rather boistrous ferny-typed plants that kept gleefully batting everyone on the head at inopportune moments. (it was a bit like being in the jungle... if the jungle rained tiny banoffee pie's and smelled of Armani) Melanie (who’s books are selling like hot cakes ((and probably taste just as good)) ) is one of THE most mental people I've ever met- She’s a bit like a stand-up comic who's main act revolves around children's books. I’d give her 10:10 in any comedy review.
I also met the marvellously handsome, Chris Mould. He was not the middle-aged, balding bloke I'd imagined, but a very dashing northern bloke; who works with a pencil like a be-sworded ninja. He’s been a favourite of mine for a while now. I’m a sucker for a well-drafted line! And discovering he can't carry a tune on the lip of a beer bottle has done little to put me off.
The big news of the night for me though, was meeting the author of my text for the first time; A lady called Mara Bergman. It was a very nervy and long-awaited event.
To me, being a picture book author seems a very strange thing; to think up a text, which you must care so much about and then having to offer it to someone else to depict. Obviously, a picture book should be half about the words and half about the pictures, but I'm not sure if it were the other way around and I was the writer i.e. the first in there with the ideas, whether I wouldn't have a terrible time handing over the reins. It shows an amazing amount of trust and throughout this project, I have felt an almost overwhelming level of expectation not to mistreat that trust.
However, although Mara is an award-winning author and her book, 'Oliver Who Would Not Sleep', is one of the few picture book texts that I genuinely admire, I needn't have worried that she’d be as intimidating in person. She’s one of those people that immediately relaxes you so that want to curl up on her knee when you talk to her. I only wish I'd met her sooner, as it would have helped the work flow so much more easily, knowing what kind of person she was. Meeting her has made me feel so much more energised about this last push to finish the book.
So, tired but feeling warm and fluffy inside, I clicked my heels together and headed off home. Ah, but first I had to face that dreaded cloak room one more time… Bum…