Monday, December 10, 2012
As I've mentioned before, the idea for the trilogy started with a tradition which I heard about at my Dutch class whilst I was living in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). "Stille Zaterdag" ("Silent Saturday") is the day after Good Friday and on that day the church bells are not rung. Flemish children are told that the bells have flown away to Rome to collect Easter eggs from the Pope. I was both enchanted and intrigued by this tradition and immediately thought that if I were a Flemish child, I would want to climb the church belfry on Silent Saturday and see for myself whether the bells had really gone or not! This is what happens in the opening scene of the book - only the children who climb the tower look out and see something truly horrific happening below them in the village.
It wasn't until very recently that I started to wonder when Silent Saturday would fall in 2013. I knew the book was coming out in early April and wondered whether its publication might dovetail with the real Silent Saturday. In fact they are very close together, as Silent Saturday falls on 30th March 2013.
I am therefore delighted to say that after some careful enquiries about logistics I am going to be in Brussels on 30th March to do some interviews and book signings. I will post exact times and locations once they are finalised, along with details of UK-based launch events. If you are one of my Belgium-based readers, I'd love it if you would come along on Silent Saturday, to get your signed copy of the book, or just to chat and perhaps ask questions if you have any. You may recognise many of the locations, such as Tervuren park(!) and some other features of life in Belgium, such as the 44 tram, frangipane and bessenjenever. The symbiosis of local Belgian and expat lives also plays a major role in the plot. Also importantly, there are some gruesome deaths! It is a thriller, after all...
Sunday, December 9, 2012
I also went to the Random House Children's Books Christmas party, which was great fun; being an author is lonely work since you spend most days closeted alone with your laptop, so it is very nice to see some flesh-and-blood colleagues for once. However, the party was in London and I live in Perthshire, so getting there was a bit of a challenge. I couldn't afford to spend a fortune on travel and I couldn't be away overnight without my long-suffering husband taking two days off work to be with the kids, so I opted for flying up and down on the same day with a budget airline. This meant getting up at 3.30 a.m. to drive to Edinburgh airport, and getting home at 10.30 p.m.(!) I knew I would be exhausted afterwards and that I wouldn't get anything done the following day (Friday) at all, and I was right. All the same, my 4 a.m. drive through the dark, deserted and snowy Perthshire countryside was rather enjoyable. I saw a pair of eyes gleaming at me from the undergrowth (probably a fox), saw a large white bird (probably an owl) swoop across the road, and on one lonely stretch of road a whole herd of deer were crossing.
Once I actually got to London I had a bit of time to kill so I decided to do a lightning raid on the Victoria and Albert Museum. I mainly went to pay my respects to the Steinfeld glass in room 64 again. Since I take such a personal interest in the glass (whose history inspired my book The Glass Demon), I am always a bit surprised to see the panels on display sitting there in a corner of the room with no-one taking any particular notice of them. I am mortally tempted to grab passers-by and tell them all about it, but I suspect I would come across as some kind of crazy female Ancient Mariner.
Anyway, I went to look at the glass, and after that I popped into the Japanese section. My daughter is a big fan of manga and anime so I thought I would have a look and see if there was anything I could photograph for her - some Japanese paintings, perhaps. In fact, there was something better, and it was pretty clearly signposted by the group of teenage girls sitting on the floor in the middle of the gallery, admiring the exhibits: a whole series of Japanese "Lolita" costumes, which looked as though they had come straight from the pages of a manga.
I thought I'd post some of the pics here because I think the costumes are amazing. I especially like the male one - I'm not really into frills myself...
I'm not going to spend ages describing the party because a party is a party! I was amazed however by a conversation I had with another female author, who had been asked at an interview what clothes, handbag, etc. she had on (hard to imagine a male author being asked this). If this ever happens to me, I shall be in big trouble as I do not think I own a single designer item! Also, my handbag is from the Shelter shop in Crieff. (You heard it here first...)
After such a long day, Friday was a write-off, as expected. I couldn't seem to concentrate on anything: my brain felt like an albatross that cannot take off because its wings are waterlogged. I imagined all the characters in my current WIP, The Demons of Ghent, falling into a slumber like the Sleeping Beauty! Hopefully all of us will be well rested in time for Monday morning; as I'm onto the last few chapters of the book we have a busy week ahead of us, and not everyone is going to make it to Friday alive...