Friday, 28 May 2010

Operation Ebook Drop

It's Memorial Day weekend in the US so it seems a good time to mention Operation Ebook Drop which is organised by author Edward C Patterson.

Participating authors provide free digital copies of their books to serving members of the armed forces. For obvious reasons, it's easier for them to carry one ebook reader than dozens of paperback novels.

There's a Facebook group here and a UK site here.

Authors interested in participating, or anyone reading this who is a member of the armed forces or related to someone who is, please email Ed Patterson to sign up to donate books or receive them.

Artwork for Operation Ebook Drop logo by K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

F Mehrban Poetry

Two poems from F Mehrban are now up on YouTube, read by Richard Trinder.

F Mehrban is a former political prisoner from Iran who now lives in London. I have been working with her through the Write to Life programme run by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Remember Me and Leila were written in memory of the author's brother, Feridoon, who died after eight years in Evin prison.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The West End Whingers Fourth Annual Party

For those of us in show business, mid-February is a very tense time because it is round about then that we start to sift deperately through the heaps of Valentines cards on our doormats in the hope of spotting a hand-delivered invitation card addressed in its tell-tale, rather formal copperplate writing, indicating that we have made the guest list for the annual West End Whingers party to be held the following spring.

This year I was thrilled to discover that, like Susie Blake, Sheridan Smith, Duncan James, Marissa Dunlop, Mark Shenton and other notables, I would once again have the chance to mingle with critics, bloggers, tweeters, producers, playwrights, performers, punters and our adorable hosts, Phil and Andrew, in a secret location in London's glittering West End.

The party was on Saturday and it was a lovely affair, with close-up magic, optional fancy dress and a raffle in aid of charity. Apart from the Ukulelescope, the discovery that I was pregnant, the birth of my daughter, the publication of my first novel, the publication of my second novel, Melanie Wilson's Iris Brunette, the Second Annual WEW Party, the Third Annual WEW Party and a visit to a consultant at King's College hospital which confirmed that I didn't have cancer, I can confidently say that it was one of the happiest times of my life.

If you're wondering how one gets to be considered for an invitation in the first place, well, it's simple. You just have to go to the theatre as much as you can. One day you will decide that the only way you're going to be able to cope with seeing another show is if you're in it or you write for it or you write about it. Three years later and bingo, you're joshing with Ian Shuttleworth and Samira Ahmed in a party so packed with celebrities that every time you want to get to the bar you have to grab hold of Duncan James's hips to steady yourself as you go past. That's how I got there, anyway.

Monday, 17 May 2010

1001 Reasons to Celebrate

Lots of exciting news from friends, acquaintances, people I have slept with and people I have never met:

David Eldridge, Robert Holman and Simon Stephens have collaborated on a new play, A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky, which has just opened at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith and is on until 5th June. Reviews here and here. Information about the collaborative process here. As part of the preparation to write the play, the authors interviewed astrophysicists, went to the pub together and took it in turns to write ideas on a long roll of wallpaper. There are intriguing time slips in the narrative, some protracted on-stage arse-washing, defecation in a department store and several deaths off-stage, a real dog on stage for not quite long enough (a poodle on the night I went to see the play) and knockout performances from Ann Mitchell and the rest of the cast.

Phil Barron's film, Just for the Record, had its premiere on 6th May and is available to rent or buy on DVD from today. There is plenty of behind the scenes information about the film on his blog, including interviews with cast members Rik Mayall, Stephen Berkoff, Sean Pertwee and Danny Dyer.

Tom Cole, Marcin Teodoru and the team at Circle Films are taking their film Closure to Cannes this week. The story of how they made a feature film in just 30 days is here.

Damon Rochefort's episode of Coronation Street featuring Blanche's funeral is still available to watch here and ITV's tribute to Maggie Jones, Goodbye Blanche, in which Damon talks about writing the funeral episode, is here. I know Damon very well and fondly remember the time when he was the plump one and I was the writer. He looks gorgeous in the Maggie Jones documentary and is now established as a very successful writer. If some kind of Fay Weldonesque 'Life and Loves of a She-Devil' transformation has taken place in our lives, I should probably save the story for another blog post.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Secret Book Club Launch Party

I have published my first two novels, Alison Wonderland and Being Light, as ebooks. It has been a marvellous adventure, of which much, much more later.

For now I would like to invite you to the launch of a Secret Book Club which had its inception on a very entertaining thread on the Amazon Kindle Book forum ('undiscovered books') in which authors who are selling their books in the Kindle store vie with each other to determine whose marketing strategy is the least successful.

While the author who started the thread, Lee Simpson, evaluates each book submitted according to a complex judging process that is almost as serious and difficult to follow as the judging process for entries in the novelty vegetable section at Lambeth's annual Country Fayre, another author, Barbara Silkstone, has been tasked with setting up a Secret Book Club, with a bewildering set of rules whose aim is to deter readers from buying any more of our books.

The launch party for the Secret Book Club is tonight. You're all invited. For the catering, Barbara is preparing jugged hare and I'm doing that anchovy and spinach mousse I had been planning to serve at the premiere of 'Does Jude Law Know Kung Fu'. Unfortunately I haven't got round to writing the script, let alone producing the film, and anchovies don't keep forever it seems, hence I can be generous with the portions tonight.

Fellow authors will provide the music and have formed a band specially for the occasion. The band is to be called Shhhhh for no better reason than if anyone asks who's playing... Yes, exactly. No gig can truly be called a success these days unless at least one fight breaks out between the fans. We've got Nell Gavin playing the comb, Barbara singing lead vocals, Scott L Collins banging his head on the keyboard by way of percussion. There will be a guest spot from the Red Hot Tyrannophonic Bunny Dogs whose poorly-selling spoof country and western songs are rumoured to have been written by another member of our group.

Steven M Ward will read from a copy of his book Holy Enigma! Bible Verses You'll Never Hear in School, currently on sale for $40.00 on Amazon, and ranked at no. 3,287,570 in their sales chart. Naturally I will be in charge of the poetry strand of the evening, drawing on lessons learned during my recent participation in a poetry slam in London.

I hope to see you there and I shall be LIVE BLOGGING it, just like the Guardian always does*, just as soon as I find out exactly when and where it is. Don't get us mixed up with Neil Gaiman's Twitter Book Club, though, will you? The aim of that, apparently, is to get people reading 'zillions of copies' of American Gods. With so much publicity attached, and such an earnest intent to get so many people reading one copy of an author's book, I can only assume the poor chap needs the sales, so don't get side-tracked by us, will you?

* especially for Esther who, quote, wishes the Guardian website would relinquish its obsession with referring to everything as LIVE BLOG - you're not live-blogging, you're just reporting events as they happen.