SHINE is the title of Frome children's author Kate Maryon's first book, and the theme of her launch at La Strada on Saturday. The event was crammed with the shiny faces and glittered cheeks of Kate's young fans, and several of her grownup admirers too. (Here's Suzy Mizrahi with Rachel Ward, whose own YA book Numbers is multi-shortlisted for awards, holding their copies.)
Kate started to 'write, write, write' as an escape tunnel from her home life, scribbling from the age of four, "writing down all my scared feelings I didn't know how to spell", until eventually her frozen feelings melted and she fulfilled her granny's prediction: 'One day that girl will shine.'
Kate unfolded her heartwarming story with the aid of a cast of nine picked from her enthusiastic audience, including a scary father who threw things and a fainting granny who was too beautiful for this world. A brave and unusual book launch that showed this author can certainly convey real-life experience authentically and in an entertaining way that engages attention unforgettably. So let's raise a glass to Kate's perceptive granny, even if she did pass out from time to time.
"War is a drug"... I'd read about The Hurt Locker before I went to see it, so I knew how disturbed I'd be by the authenticity of relentless violence and ruination of that invaded land. What was more insidious was the sense of enduring minute-by-minute with no-one to turn to or to trust. The enemy is everywhere: hidden behind windows and walls, in the marketplace, in your own unit, in your own head... deeply disturbing, way beyond matters of morality, because the question posed is not Will Our Brave Boys come home alive? nor even, In what disturbed state will they live the rest of their lives? It's if this destructive rage is so deep in the human psyche, how could we live without wars?
Eddie Izzard, as a performer and as a person, was on my A-list of demigods even before he ran 1105.62 miles in 51 days. I've now dragged my old running shoes out of comatose retirement and signed up for a Sport Relief run myself. Who knows, I might celebrate septagenarian status with another marathon...
And what has this to do with writing? Everything. If you want to run, don't obsess over the success of professional athletes - watch Eddie Izzard confound every probability and defy every piece of expert advice to do it his way. That's got to be an inspiration for anyone with a desire to achieve against the odds, writers and joggers alike.
Big excitement for me this week is seeing the flyer for Vampire Nights at the Alma Tavern in May - my short play alongside one by Conor McPherson, acclaimed writer of National productions The Weir and The Seafarer.
"As True Blood and Being Human demonstrate", says the bit on the back of the flyer that’s too small to see in a blog-pic, "our fascination with the vampire myth is as strong as ever. This darkly comic double bill features two plays with strange and disturbing new takes on the undead theme... Love Bites is by local novelist Crysse Morrison whose short plays Thursday Coma and Your Time Starts Now were a hit with critics and a sellout success at the Alma last year. Not for the squeamish!"
Actually mine is fine for the squeamish, me being quite squeamish myself, but Conor M - combining old-fashioned yarn-spinning skills with a canny grasp of the flawed contemporary psyche, as the New York Times puts it - definitely needs PG rating.