Richard and I went to Brighton for the weekend. For several reasons:
1. To go to the house-warming party of my former publicity manager, Rowan. She has excellent taste as is proved by the fact that I easily sired her to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, she plays trumpet and is a vegetarian.
2. To sign some books for my Spanish dealer (erm... you know what I mean!) so that he can bring autographed copies of my books to all my new fans in Barcelona. (Both of them.)
3. To be a punter at the Brighton Festival, which is always very well done and well worth a visit.
We were staying at the exciting Sea Spray boutique hotel which actually DID have a view of the sea. It is one of those hotels with themed bedrooms. I decided the Warhol and Dali Rooms sounded too surrealistic and the Boudoir Room a bit obvious, so I chose the Moroccan Room. It was quite well done with a saffron-coloured parachute hanging from the ceiling, and Moroccan lamps and cushions and a hookah and everything. But the effect was somewhat marred by the fact that this was a tall Victorian house with narrow stairs and semi-Nazi signs on everything that said things like DO NOT PUT ANYTHING DOWN THIS TOILET AS THE PLUMBER CALL-OUT FEE IS £70. Considering that this toilet was out in the corrider and not even in our own room, I thought the £85-a-night price tag a bit steep. But, hey! this is my birthday weekend so it was a splurge...
We arrived around 6.00 on Saturday evening and saw that we could catch one of the Brighton Festival literary events – a retelling of Ovid's Metamorphoses – before we went to Rowan and Ant's party.
At the Old Market I said to the person buying tickets, 'I see Garth Nix was here earlier. Is he still in Brighton? Because I met him once at a festival in Canada and he might remember me...' Here I trailed off lamely.
'He's staying at the Hotel Seattle,' she offered, 'but right now he's just next door in the bar!'
And so he was! He was very nice and pretended to remember me. My husband Richard is Garth Nix's greatest fan. (He spent one entire day of a recent holiday in Spain reading Lirael. When he finished it I breathed a sign of relief, thinking we could go out and see Spain, or something. But what did my husband do? He opened it up and started all over again!) So Richard stood wagging his tail and panting with happiness as his idol chatted with us. Garth Nix is one of the nicest and most humble authors I have ever met. And funny, too. He was promoting his latest book, Drowned Wednesday.
And BONUS! He was sitting with fellow kids' author Louise Rennison, who was promoting her latest book, ...Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers I have heard Louise speak before, at the Children's Book Group convention in Birmingham a year ago, and she is hilarious. On an impulse I bought her latest book, and got her to sign it. I'm glad I did because I loved it! She has a wonderful main character called Georgia Nicolson, who thinks only about boys and makeup and says stuff like 'it was vair, vair nice and thrice fabby.'
We went in to see the Ovid, which had specially good special effects, and then caught a taxi to Rowan and Ant's party. The party was vair, vair nice and thrice fabby.
The next morning the beating rain and howling wind woke me at 5.30am but by 9.00am – when we went down to breakfast – the sun had come out. Breakfast was great. Richard had an English cooked breakfast, I had the exact same thing but vegetarian. Brighton is one of the few places in England where you can get vegetarian options. No wonder Rowan loves it!
We wandered along the sea front, admiring the jade green sea dotted with whitecaps as we pulled our collars up. Then did a quick tour of Brighton's Aquarium, more for Richard than me as those things always make me feel sorry for fish that can swim hundreds of miles but are cooped up in a tiny tank.
After that we met my overseas bookfair guy, Gary, plus his partner and dog, and I signed some books in a tearoom.
Then another wander along the seafront, looking for somewhere to eat that night, and then back to the Old Market for Meg Rosoff, who was talking about her book, How I Live Now.
Meg was very interesting and one thing in particular struck me. She said that as a writer she struggles most with plots, but recently she discovered you can STEAL PLOTS FROM THE GREEK MYTHS! What have I been saying all along?? Huh? HUH??
After Meg Rosoff's talk, we had a drink in The Lanes in weak but brave sunshine and read our books. I was chuckling over Boy Entrancers. Georgia Nicolson's 'desire line' (to quote my mentor John Truby), is simple to snog boys. It's that simple. Georgia even has ratings for a snogfest scale. You can see them at 'her' site: www.georgianicolson.com*hee*
After our little taste of cafe life, we went to see Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott's new film. Every review I've read panned it, so my hopes were not high. But I thought it was wonderful! Ridley Scott remains one of my favourite directors. He got the most out of the his writers and actors (it was SO much better than Star Wars) and despite all the reviewers' snide comments, Orlando Bloom was great. The thing I love about Ridley Scott is that he is so deliciously visual. I especially love the effects he gets with light shinging through dust and smoke.
The film also had a great message: the Kingdom of Heaven is not a place on earth. It's in your heart.