Mum's The Word on the iPhone

Quite a few of the people that have clicked through to this blog over the past year have been looking for my Bristol Prize story, Mum's The Word. As flattering as this has been, I've been reluctant to stick it up because I really wanted people to go out and buy the anthology instead - it's not expensive and it's a a great collection. Anyway, almost a year has passed and there'll be a new anthology out soon, and so I thought it was high time I sent the story out elsewhere. So now I'm really pleased to say that Ether Books have taken it. Ether are an interesting bunch; their stories are published via their iPhone app and they've got some really fancy authors on there (Hilary Mantel!). While the app itself is a free download, some of the stories you do have to pay for, but Mum's The Word isn't one of them - it's entirely free. So if you've got an iPhone, please do click through to the app store, download EtherReads and search for me! Massive thanks to Bea and the crew for taking me on!

on the road again

I'm off to Bulgaria tomorrow for a week. Have you ever been to Bulgaria? I haven't, though everybody I've spoken to lately either has a holiday home over there or has a horror story about a holiday home that went wrong and never got built. Anyway. We're not in it for our property portfolio; I'm in it for the chance to mooch around eating cake in a whole new city and Andy's in it for an art exhibition. That's why we're going - he's got a show on. So I'll be entertaining myself (and Seren) for much of the time. It used to be that when I went on holidays I'd do a bastard-load of research and arrive armed with an itinerary and a plan; this time I've got an out-of-date Rough Guide to Sofia and a nine-week old baby who won't really care about art galleries and fancy cafes. I'll be dragging her to them anyway, because that's how I'm rocking the parenting shizzle, yo. Ahem. There'll also be an opening night at the art gallery with wine and a bunch of Bulgarian arty types. I might do some novel-editing while I'm there, but I'm making no promises. Everything's moving very slowly on the novel-front, but that's okay. Today I went on a bike-ride for the first time since having the baby (I say bike-ride; I went to Asda and back, but dudes, it still counts) and compared to the last time I pedaled down the road, thirty-seven weeks pregnant, it was damn comfortable. What else? We went to Emma Jane Unsworth's book launch on Thursday, which was ace (the book's ace too). And Tom Fletcher and Beth Ward had a baby last Wednesday - welcome, Jake! Right. I should probably pack now, or some such nonsense. To Bulgaria!

Hay 2011

Well, we went to the Hay Festival again: the baby survived her first camping trip (aged six weeks!) and I came home with a good literary haul. A job well done. We didn't book too many readings this year because we weren't sure how Seren would take to sitting still in a crowd for an hour at a time (though she's already been to a fair few readings so far), so all we had lined up was David Vann and Gary Shteyngart. I prepped the kid well on both authors during the drive down to Wales, but she wasn't sure about Vann; I think she found his work a little morbid.

Of course, I disagreed and told her she was overlooking the beauty of the prose. D'oh. Anyway, Vann's talk was great, as was Shteyngart's, though the baby took his session as her cue to let herself loose on the world by wailing tragically when Gaby Wood asked if there were any questions from the audience. Shteyngart, called upon to respond, let out an admirable wail himself, which he then translated as meaning that he was looking forward to a feed after the interview, and possibly a change, too. He and Vann were both very cool when I queued up to get my books signed afterwards - Vann admired the baby and Shteyngart gave a shoutout to Bookmunch when I said I'd reviewed Super Sad True Love Story.

Otherwise, we spent most of the weekend wandering around the bookshops and eating cake in people's gardens and failing to get a phone signal anywhere. I got a brilliant haul of books this year - William Golding, A.L. Kennedy, Bharati Mukherjee, ZZ Packer, James Salter, Edwidge Danticat, Dana Spiotta, Gerard Donovan, Gary Shteyngart, Joy Williams, and (probably my favourite of the lot) Gordon Lish.

And here's Seren, rolling around her in her expanding library:

I think she's pretty miffed we're home in Manchester; she was a big fan of the tent. Guess we'll be heading back again next year...

Occasional Educational Reading Pt.5

I'm off to Hay on Wye tomorrow, where I'll eat cake, drink tea, buy books, hear David Vann and Gary Shteyngart read, and teach the baby how to live in a tent. I'll be mostly offline, so I'll see y'all Sunday. In the meantime, here's a book I found last year: