Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Bereavement, and a Christmas goose (not for eating).

          It was a Christmas I'd been dreading - the Christmas of 2013, and my first one without David. I refused to acknowledge it. I bought no tree, put up no decorations, and sent only the obligatory minimum of cards. I wanted to go nowhere, and do nothing.

           However, my daughter, Jude, put a tough, daughterly boot in, and booked me a rail ticket from Paddington to Truro (she lives in Falmouth). Neither of us were to know that I'd be travelling on the day of the Great Storm, and that, when she picked me up at Truro station (the train was delayed by two hours, and was the last one to get into Cornwall that night) we would face the most white-knuckle drive of our lives!

          Those five days of Christmas went unexpectedly well. I re-acquainted myself with her amazing puppet of Borka the goose, from John Burningham's classic picture book which is currently being developed as a children's opera by The English Touring Opera Company. Jude, and her husband, Alan, were working on Borka's goslings while I was there - naked goslings then, who have since been given their coats of untidy down, and discussing how to create the eggs from which they would eventually hatch.

          Coming back to London, I had to face New Year - not a festival either of us ever much cared for, apart from the fireworks. This time I was solitary, by choice. Sometimes one has to be, but it was not easy. Meanwhile, in Cornwall, Jude has been working on the backdrops for "Borka".

          The book that took me through Christmas and the long journey back to London was Kathleen Jones's "THE SUN'S COMPANION" - a lengthy  novel set in the 1930s-1940s - a disturbing period of European history, part of which I lived through, as a child. I probably wouldn't have read it in any other format but the Kindle... as a paperback, it would have been fat, and physically cumbersome to travel with, but the Kindle's 'one page at a time' format made it very accessible. I found her research of that period impressive - there were details I could touch,  feel and smell. I think it would make an amazing film for TV, split into about four episodes, and infinitely more moving and authentic than Downton.

          At present, I'm making inroads into David's vast library of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and reading: "HARM'S WAY", by Colin Greenland, an alternative version of Victorian Britain, in which ships sail into interplanetary space. Love it. He's a fantastic writer.

           My second picture book: "QUICKER THAN A PRINCESS" (TopThat!) comes out this March, and, because of 'Borka', I find myself thinking more and more about the translation from written words to other media, and fantasising that "PRINCESS" might make a ballet, featured a very pregnant princess (how many of those do you encounter?) and quite a lot of dancing animals. I'd love to show you the cover image, but, unfortunately, it's in a format Blogger won't accept. However, I can tell you that the illustrator is the very talented Inna Chernyak, from the Ukraine.

           I'm currently working on 2000 word novels for very early readers. Like Alice, I seem to be getting smaller and smaller, but it's challenging.

          I also need to re-publish more of my out of print children's books, most especially "KACHUNKA", and with eleven e-books out there, it seems to me that I have what constitutes a 'list'. Any takers?
 

5 comments:

madwippitt said...

Immersing yourself in a good book is a good way of escaping the world when it all feels too much. And being able to share someone's library can be a comforting way of feeling there's still a tangible connection of sorts. First Christmases are always bad: lovely that you have a family to help support you through it. And re: the short books - they are vitally important - you are helping young readers catch the reading bug! xxx

julia jones said...

Well done Enid - and daughter. I think you had your festivals totally the right way round: together with children at Christmas (am SURE David would have wanted that, wouldn't he?) and then meditative, facing the future at New Year. Eclectic Electric would love any book reviews you care to write. I know you hate blogger but if you send me a word doc I'll put them up for you. No real need for pics. Best of luck 2014

Kathleen Jones said...

Christmas is such a difficult time Enid - I'm so glad you were with your daughter. Very moved by your comments on the Suns Companion - readers' responses like yours make writing a book worthwhile even if it doesn't make any money!!

Lydia Bennet said...

Christmas is tough after bereavement but it's good you have family support, and that you are going on adventuring as a writer, trying new things. Your short short novels sound very valuable to young readers and you should deffo put out your picture books as ebooks. Good luck with it all!

Enid Richemont said...

To Lydia (any connection with ms Austen??)- my picture books are very much in print, so it would be up to my current publisher to do that.

To Kathleen - The Sun's Companion ought to be making you money. Try it on the Beeb.

To Julia - please stay in touch via email on that one. Right now, I'm not working very well, and please do read every possible meaning into that statement.

To madwippett - David's library is extraordinary, but our tastes in books were very different. He introduced me to writers I would never have chosen myself. We have a complete collection of Terry Pratchett, whose work and personality/ethics I find impressive, although I could quickly tire of some of his books. Then Robert Heinlien, Isaac Asimov, etc etc. In short, a lifetime's collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction (and what will happen to it when I snuff it?)