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Thursday, 22 October 2009

It's my party ...

Interesting event the other night at the Guildford Book Festival, where I was on a panel with Christopher Fowler and Patrick Gale. Where were you?

The topic was "From small beginings" and no, before you ask, this wasn't about erectile dysfunction disorder, but rather the influence of importance of our childhood reading on our writing today. I have to be honest and admit that this wasn't something I'd thought about until about two minutes before I stepped onto the stage. My fellow panellists were rather better prepared and certainly better read - I hadn't heard of half the stuff they mentioned and Patrick Gale gave me a look caught somewhere between contempt and envy when I mentioned that I had mainlined Enid Blyton for years as a kid.

I have post-facto created a list of my top eleven (ten was so 2008) childhood books. I'm going to define childhood as the years prior to me buying the Sam Fox edition of Mayfair. It's my blog so I can do what I want:
  1. The Treasure Seekers, by Enid Blyton - if you haven't read it, you wouldn't understand
  2. How things work - genius book with cross-sections of ships and pyramids and skyscrapers which showed you, quite literally, how things work
  3. That book about dinosaurs with the blue and yellow cover and a T-Rex on the front - memory getting a little hazy here, but it was good
  4. 1956 Lion annual (see picture) - I particularly remember the story about a couple of plucky Tommy's giving Jerry the slip by discovering a secret tunnel behind a fireplace
  5. The illustrated Bible - Great stories, gory pictures. Fiction writing at its best. (ooohhh - contraversial!)
  6. Anything by Roger Lancelyn Green - King Arthur, Robin Hood etc.
  7. French graphic novels - Oh yes, I was quite the cosmopolitan so and so, aged 8. Well that and the fact that I was brought up in France might have had something to do with it - Tintin, Asterix, Gaston Lagaffe, Largo Winch, Blake and Mortimer to name but a few
  8. Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl - always much preferred this to C&CF, BFG, J&GP etc.
  9. Some book by Richard Scarry where on each page you had to try and find the little yellow duck or something - used to keep me amused for hours when my father would turn the page saying, "well there isn't one on this page" and I'd say "Yes there is, yes there is!" and frantically turn the page back ... you get the picture
  10. Another book, whose name I can't remember - God this list really is self-indulgent twaddle isn't it - but that showed you basic spycraft like how to write invisible ink, do a dead letter drop etc. Vital skills for any eleven year olds
  11. The Valley of Adventure, by Enid Blyton - a second entry by Ma Blyton, but it is what it is. Loved that book and the cheeky parrot.
Anyway, onto more serious things. The Geneva Deception is out there, although I was reminded the other day that it's official launch date isn't until next week. Does that make me like the Queen with two birthdays, or Elton John (one's THE queen, the other's a queen), who came out ages before he actually "came out".

Either way things going well so far. First 3 days of sales were very good, in fact, so here's hoping things continue on the same track. Launch party set for Thursday next week with special appearances by Essex poet Ryan Child (you'd be amazed how many words rhyme with Matalan) and singer / songerwriter Georgia Strand.

Can you make it? A few invites available for selected faithful / attractive fans - just drop me a line. And yes, Mum, I guess you can come along too.


Blogger Neil said...

Enid Blyghton was brilliant ...remember reading her books growing up in Guyana

October 27, 2009  

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