Sunday, July 22, 2007

A big day for a little writer

What an amazing day I had on Friday. First I met my lovely publisher Jen from Salt. Well, of course I think Jen can do magic because she's publishing my book, but she also arrived from Cambridge miraculously fast through the flooding country and arrived for lunch at Croma bang on time. (It was a different story, though, according to her blog, when she went back later in the evening.) We had a great lunch and Jen had brought me a lovely present - a proof copy of Carys Davies's forthcoming collection of short stories, which is due out at the same time as mine. I met Carys over the internet through our both being published by Salt, and it turned out that we had each spent a part of our childhood in the same tiny corner of South Wales which features in both our books. Magic, or what?

Here's Jen and me in Croma:

Then Jen and I parted for the afternoon - she to meet Forward Prize nominated Salt poet Eleanor Rees, and I to do a spot of leafleting before the tech rehearsal for The Processing Room. I had dressed up for the evening in a frock and heels but then I found myself lugging chairs around and sticking down duct tape so I can't say I ended up looking very glamorous. I can't say either that the tech went without a hitch - for one thing, I'd been so busy with publicity and thus absent from the last couple of rehearsals that I had failed to remind everyone that I had arranged for Tom Wright, the 24:7 photographer to cover the show at the tech, and the costumes hadn't been brought! (But it'll all be all right on the night - honest!)

Then it was off out into the liquid day day again, leaving everyone else to pack up, and down rainswept Cross Street to the Royal Exchange where the award ceremony for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize had already begun. Jen was there, with Eleanor Rees whom I met for the first time. The prize, for a collection by a single author and judged in this its inaugural year by AL Kennedy, was instigated by Ailsa Cox with whom I founded and edited metropolitan short story magazine. Short-listed authors were Neil Gaiman, Jackie Kay, Colm Toibin and two authors we published in metropolitan, Nicholas Royle and Tamar Yellin. Winner was Colm Toibin for Mothers and Sons (Picador). In his heartening winning speech he said that short stories were a much more difficult form than novels and that the notion of them as minor and 'practice' for the 'real' form of novels was seriously mistaken.

After this I had a couple of hours to kill before going to be interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester, so I went up to Cornerhouse to let the effects of two glasses of wine wear off and gather my thoughts for the interview - and who should I meet but Mark who the evening before had interviewed me and Stephanie on Let's Go Global TV.

Then it was quarter to ten and time to turn up at the BBC. What a strange place the BBC is at night - so hushed, not a soul around as I made my way down the winding corridors to Radio Manchester. Through the glass you could see the BBC car park gleaming and black with rain, but the little waiting area was cosy with bright light and a soft sofa and the sound of the current broadcast coming softly through the speakers - like a little oasis in the streaming night. And that's exactly how Phil Woods' programme seems too, an oasis in the night, with his urbane voice and his calm relaxed style, and in no time at all I had forgotten I was on the radio, which of course is how it should be. I was 'Mrs Manchester' for the night, choosing my favourite records (while of course plugging my play), and we ended up with Fats Waller's 'Your Feet's Too Big' which John once bought me because I have such big feet for someone of my not too considerable height.

And then out of the BBC on my big feet and straight onto a 42 bus, and I was stepping through the door by midnight.

Not bad, eh, for a writer - ie one whose typical day is spent in jamas and moving only between the desk and the kettle?


Debi said...

I feel the need to lie down on your behalf. What a day ...

Big congrats on all fronts.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thanks, Debi!

Anonymous said...

And very glamorous you and Jen look as well!Can't wait to read the book!

Anonymous said...

It was great to meet you that day - and I had such a good time in Manchester, despite the rain! Hope everything went well on the opening night.