ODETTE concert at Barnes Music Society, Wednesday 13 November
Monday, 11 November 2019
Dear friends and supporters,
ODETTE continues to fly, and not only in cyberspace and bookshelves. On Wednesday this week (13 Nov) I join forces with the award-winning, rising-star violinist Fenella Humphreys and the ever-magnificent pianist Viv McLean to present ODETTE: A CELEBRATION OF SWAN LAKE at the Barnes Music Society. It's at the lovely Old Sorting Office (OSO) arts centre beside Barnes…
New book on the way: IMMORTAL - The story of Beethoven's 'Immortal Beloved'
Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Dear friends and supporters,
If you enjoyed the historical musical mystery of 'Ghost Variations' and/or the fantasy of 'Odette', you'll love - I hope - my new book currently in the works.
For the past few years I've been reading obsessively about Ludwig van Beethoven's 'Immortal Beloved' - the unnamed addressee of an impassioned love letter that he wrote in July 1812. Supposedly nobody…
THE SWAN HAS LANDED
Friday, 30 November 2018
All over the country, all over the world,
'Odette' is landing, or so I've heard...
It's been a wonderful morning as Twitter and Instagram load up with a familiar purple, feathery image: the paperbacks have gone out to all you fabulous supporters - if you haven't received yours yet, it's on its way! The most bizarre feeling is that after all these years, people might actually get to read…
...And it's here!
Friday, 23 November 2018
Look what arrived today!
Ricki and Cosi 'helped' me open the parcel from the printers. I had a quiet gloat about holding this book in my hands AT LAST after 26 YEARS. All the kitties were really interested in, though, was the prospect of playing in the cardboard box afterwards.
It really is a lovely plummy-violety sort of purple. I was afraid it might be too bright, but it isn't. Actually, I…
How 'Kate' changed my life
Monday, 22 October 2018
Dear supporters and patrons,
It's all real – Odette is preparing for take-off. You'll have had some updates from the office recently, explaining that the book is in design and editorial, and I thought you might enjoy some insights into what that means for me in particular.
Part of 'editorial', for instance, means reading the whole manuscript aloud to myself and the cat, twice. I nearly…
Editorial Development: a view from the cat-tree..
Sunday, 19 August 2018
The other day I growled to my husband, "This book is driving me mad." He gave a shrug: "They always do." After 20 years, to him it's water off a violinist's back, and he retreats happily to practise his Paganini. Upstairs, though, I am in the middle of what is elegantly termed 'Editorial Development', but is, to me, the inevitable part of writing a book that is a bit like being skinned alive. The…
Sooner than we thought! Plus, er, Siberia
Monday, 25 June 2018
After a spendid meeting with Xander at the Unbound offices last week, I'm suddenly facing the likelihood that ODETTE will see the light of day a wee bit sooner than expected. Christmas means Christmas...18. Not 19. 18. That's 6 months from now, in case you haven't noticed! So please don't buy your Christmas presents too soon: this one will, I hope, be worth hanging on for.
It's all hands on deck…
*WE DID IT!*
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
At last, the news everyone has been waiting for: MEETING ODETTE has made target! It's going to happen. It really is. And it's all thanks to you, my dear, treasured friends and (I hope) fans!
I can't thank you enough for:
a) pledging to the book;
b) your ongoing support, moral as well as financial;
c) bearing with us while the funding was raised;
d) bearing with us still longer while I revise…
'Due to a swan on the line...'
Friday, 1 June 2018
They get around, our avian friends. The Guardian's dance critic Judith Mackrell has just posted this picture on Twitter and I'm sure she won't mind if we conscript it.
Our Odette as a swan finds herself in some other, comparably tricky situations:
Blown across the North Sea;
crashing through a window;
going to the vet;
attempting to shoplift;
trapped on a rooftop closely resembling King…
Aiming for the stars
Thursday, 8 March 2018
It's International Women's Day and I have decided to own up to what I really want MEETING ODETTE to be - and always have, ever since I started it in 1992.
My dream is to make this book a new magical-realism feminist classic. I don't know if I can do it, but I intend to give it my very best shot.
My great literary role-model was Angela Carter (except the bit about dying of cancer in her fifties…
A new Swan Lake on the way
Tuesday, 23 January 2018
I hope your 2018 has got off to a flying start (no swan puns intended, honest, guv). Mine certainly has - ten-hour overnight flights to and from South Africa - and I've just come home to find that one of the articles I'm most thrilled to have penned recently is out.
It's for the Royal Opera House Magazine and it's all about the forthcoming new Royal Ballet production of Swan…
Merry Christmas - and here's to next year!
Thursday, 21 December 2017
Dear supporters, readers and supporters-to-be,
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, a restful festive season and a fabulous seeing-in of the new year 2018! Are you staying home, going out, going away? Sun, snow, Christmas markets? Nutcrackers, Hansel-and-Gretels, pantomimes, or, er, Swan Lakes?
I'm staying home and writing, as you may be surprised to hear (or not). I'll be devoting much…
What's in a name? Er, quite a bit...
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
An interesting development is propelling Meeting Odette in a new direction. As I mentioned last time, it's turning into a winter's tale, with a Christmas Carolesque slant to its magical side. The more I chip away at it, the more this new-look setting is building the story's inner strength - indeed, its whole point. Still, whatever I do to it, I realise I need to do a very great deal more…
Sunday, 10 December 2017
Some things remain as much of a thrill when you're (supposedly) grown up as they are in childhood. And one of them, along with sitting at the front on the top-level of a London double-decker bus, is watching the world turn white moment by moment in front of your nose as falling snow settles on the roofs, twigs and a few last brave leaves that are still hanging on. The magical transformation of…
7 great reasons to support Meeting Odette that have nothing to do with swans
Tuesday, 3 October 2017
1. Meeting Odette is an allegory for the present. That refugee you see shivering in the water, struggling across barren lands - how can you know who she really is? Refugees have nothing and our society therefore sees them as nobody. This is both ridiculous and worse than inhumane. Supposing someone who arrives from the east with nothing but the clothes on her back turns out to be...a very unexpected…
Titles 102, anti romanticism and some extraordinary Sibelius
Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Hmm, my thoughts on a change of title for MEETING ODETTE don't seem to have gone over especially well. TAKING FLIGHT, apparently, sounds like a self-help book and has been used before in fiction, as has FLIGHT OF THE SWAN, which shows up either as a children's book or soppy romance.
I'd like to make one thing clear about MEETING ODETTE. Romance it ain't. And that's the curse of the swan. It's a…
What's in a name?
Monday, 18 September 2017
Above: a breakthrough?
Answer: quite a lot. Especially if it's not so much a name, but a title. A book has to have the right title. Can you imagine 'Gone with the Wind', 'Wuthering Heights' or '1984' being called anything else? A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but if you pick a title that doesn't resound, it's not going to do its content any favours.
I've been aware for…
New pledge level: a personal consultancy session! Plus: the next Pledge Party, and some ballet from a glorious Odette...
Thursday, 31 August 2017
I hope you've had a wonderful summer. Mine has certainly been eventful. Over the past couple of years I've been working on a new "people's opera" called SILVER BIRCH with the wonderful composer Roxanna Panfunik, and in late July it was premiered at Garsington Opera. We had some fantastic reviews (The Times called my libretto 'powerful and poetic', spurring purring). And seeing this work…
10 reasons you'll want to meet Odette
Sunday, 23 July 2017
One month in and Meeting Odette is one third funded, which is brilliant news. Huge thanks to my 61 supporters who have stepped forward to pledge so far! Now we just need twice as many again to do likewise, preferably within the next few weeks... so please can I ask you all to share the link with any literarily, balletically, musically or fantastically inclined friends who might enjoy a feathery tale…
Hang on a mo...
Friday, 7 July 2017
[I feel a bit like this today...hiding head in despair]
...but what? You wait 25 years and suddenly someone else picks your topic too? For a Hollywood blockbuster? Oh. Flippin'. Heck.
I just stumbled across a piece of news on Twitter: Felicity Jones is to star in a movie based on the story of Swan Lake, without any ballet. No kidding. Read all about it here.
What are the chances…
"I offered them swan terrine, but they were rather horrified..."
Monday, 3 July 2017
The wonderful oboist Nicholas Daniel alerts us to this report from BBC News Scotland from 2005, when the then-Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, found himself being cautioned over the death of a swan near his Orkney home. The unfortunate bird had struck a power line. ("Max" himself died last year and is much missed for his mercurial and outspoken personality as well as his…
Newly added: Launch Party pledge level!
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
I did something utterly terrible when I chose the pledge rewards to offer you. I forgot all about the party.
How could I? I mean, what is a book without its launch party? What is the point of a book if you can't celebrate its existence with wine and friends and good cheer? In this neck of the woods, the book is not an excuse for a party; the prospect of a party is the excuse…
"My beloved swan..."
Sunday, 25 June 2017
It's not that Jonas Kaufmann's voice was absolutely essential to the first update on the Meeting Odette page. You never need any excuse to listen to him (at least, I don't). But the German tenor's Lohengrin is legendary and, let's face it, Swan Lake would be nowhere without Wagner's swanny opera. Stories often sprout on the backs of older stories, and that ballet is no exception.
Here's a video…
Welcome to MEETING ODETTE
Friday, 23 June 2017
I used to have a recurring dream. I was in the library, looking for a book. I knew I'd seen it once before. I couldn't find it. It was a book of Swan Lake. I would always wake up knowing there was something inside it that I wanted, or needed, but I could never remember what it was.
(Pictured above: Natalia Osipova as Odette, photo by Gene Schiavone, Royal Opera House)
I had this dream…