Monday, May 23, 2005

Conf 48 The Insanity of Insecurity

No. of e-mails from agent: 0

8.10am log onto computer

No. of e-mails in IN box: 2

1 from J on success of her
Arvon writing course ('almost a religious experience'). Can't wait to hear about it.

1 from K

Check Amazon. Novel 1 at 9,775. Gosh. Someone must have bought one, or even two.

10.51 Check e-mail again. No new messages. Check Amazon again, novel 1 now 39,687.

11.45 E-mail PINGS! Great excitement.

From non-fiction publisher about proofs for new non-f coming out in August. Sent by special delivery today, politely asks if I can get comments back to them by Thursday. Says my author credit is on the title page - but it's the wrong name. They've used my real name instead of my pen name, e mail straight back to get it changed.

12.03 E-mail confirming they'll change name.

12.20 - 13.20 Sit in car outside pressing the break pedal whilst partner fixes break lights.

14.04 IN box pings again. From S replying to mine, sorry we missed each other on Fri...

etc etc.

It's daft to expect a response so soon, but it doesn't stop the jitters.

Delighted to see an interview with Sybille Bedford in Telegraph this weekend. Jigsaw, her Booker-nominated semi-autobiographical novel is one of my favourites. I've read it 3 times. My friend J, who introduced it to me, used to read it once a year. Strangely, the 3 friends I've introduced it to all hated it. A few years ago we dropped into Sanary-sur-Mer, a small town at the unfashionable end of the Cote d'Azur, the setting for much of the book, and were charmed. I'd read the place was a spoilt, horrid tourist destination. Sure, it starts off as a nasty big car-park, but from there you walk into the loveliest, unspoilt little seaside town. St Tropez without the posers and traffic jams is how we found it. When we got back I wrote to her, the first fan letter to an author I'd ever written, via her publisher. I wanted to know if her house, Les Cyprés, was still there, as we intended returning to Sanary the following year for a holiday. The next thing, blow me, if there's not a message on my answer machine one day. I rang J, 'guess who's left me a message!' I squeaked like it was David Bowie or someone. FULL of nerves, she's a formidably intelligent woman, I called her back. She was so lovely. She explained she found it hard to write these days, she was already in her 90s, so she was phoning me. She confirmed Les Cyprés was still there, on the Rue Bandol. She followed up her call with a letter shakily written on green paper (apparently she can only write on green paper which doesn't reflect the light) wishing me luck with my writing. We went back the following year and stayed at the Hotel de la Tour, the first place Sybille stayed when she arrived with her mother in the 1920s. I left partner and daughter gasping under air conditioner as France's worst heatwave raged and went off trekking round Sanary on my Jigsaw trail. I found the villa, Les Cyprés, just as it was, and La Pacifique, the Corbusier-style house she visited all the time, as a bonus. The old 1920s cinema, just as it was, and the Café Marine on the harbourfront, just as it was. It was thrilling.

Next month, her long-awaited follow-up to Jigsaw ">Quicksands comes out. My holiday reading taken care of this year.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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