February 10th, 2016


An Oxford Visit

The Introduction
I've just returned from a magical trip to Oxford with my bag full of books and my headmeat full of delightful memories. Other than the apology section, what follows is an attempt to mummify these experiences for my own future perusal. You might want to skip the lot of it!

The Apology Section
First, let me apologise to those of my Oxford friends that I failed to contact while I was over there. I hope to make my excuses to several of you at Mancunicon in person. But this was always intended to be a busy, busy few days, and so in fact, it turned out...

Fantastic Goings-on -- Monday
Too much happened in too little time to list it all. I signed 500 proofs of The Call with my sinister claw. I renewed my acquaintance with the whole crew at David Fickling Books, and I can tell you, I'd sail any sea in such fine company.

I was introduced to Emma Draude, who is to be the UK publicist for the book. Calm, lovely. Note-taking. Clever. A appreciator of fine curries. A sharer of cake. Not peanut intolerant, if I'm any judge.

After lunch, we made a few videos, with Phil and Carolyn chipping in to edit on the fly. Many of these will turn up on the interwebs some time soon in order to trick encourage people to buy The Call.

And finally for Monday, there was a party for various authors and booksellers. A writer should steer well-clear of clichés*, but the children's book industry is populated almost exclusively by sweethearts. Which doesn't mean they can't be tough -- just that they don't want to be. The room was filled with great conversations and the type of snacks that would have brought ancient Rome to its knees.

The authors were fantastic. Without naming names, I met at least one scribbler I have long admired, and several whose work I will be starting in March when my reading time is my own again.

The book trade folk displayed far more friendliness and excitement than they had to. I love them all and want them to have my babies books.

Tuesday in Paradise

I spent the morning on an impromptu tour of Blackwell's Books on Broad Street. Wow! What vasty, multidimensional depths! With cabinets of precious first editions like jewels and the office of the founder's son, preserved in amber with all its old splendour. The staff there are amazing in their enthusiasm. I feel I should name names here, but this is the scary internet, so I won't. But A, B and C (or N), you are stars. It was a great experience.

After that it was back to the DFB offices to talk contracts.

Yes, the second book is now an official thing with a deadline and all that good stuff. More about that next week maybe.

For lunch, the brilliant angalin invited me into the heart of an Oxford College. I loved it! I was expecting typical university canteen food, but everything tasted as if somebody had lavished actual care and love on it. The staff too, were all smiles -- you know, as though they liked their work. You won't catch me grinning like that tomorrow morning at my day job.

One more trip to the offices to say my goodbyes and to steal the most recent copy of The Phoenix and that was that.

A day so perfect Lou Reed would have written a song about it.

*Yes, I know.