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October 2005



Helen Cresswell, writer of children's books for over 40 years has died at her Nottinghamshire home at the age of seventy-one.

Her first novel, Sonya-by-the-Shore, was published in 1960 since when she has written over 100 books, appealing to pre-school readers, older children and to many in between. She won The Phoenix Award in 1989 for The Nighwatchmen and four of her books, The Piemakers (1967), The Night Watchmen (1969), Up the Pier (1971) and The Bongleweed (1973) have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

Writing and adapting her own work and that of Edith Nesbit for television led to her winning the Bafta Children's Writers' Award in 2000.


Yahoo! backs digital library

As part of the Open Content Alliance, Yahoo! will help digitise 18,000 works of American literature plus material from US national and European archives. In contrast with Google's proposed digital archive, the Alliance operates an opt-in policy and so will avoid the copyright challenges that have slowed Google's digital archive project.

The core will be 18,000 classic works of American literature, including works by Mark Twain, Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe. Currently Britain's National Archive and the European Archive are deciding what material to contribute to the project. The end result will be a huge online collection freely available to web users, the first works of which should be online by the end of 2005 and all 18,000 works should be available by the close of 2006.


Bonhams 1: T. S. Eliot letters

In the sale of Books, Maps, and Manuscripts at Bonhams on 20th September, an exceptional collection of private letters and presentation copies from T. S. Eliot to the Faber publishing family realised over £240,000 at auction.

Highlights included a collection of illustrated letters introducing many of the animals that later became the subjects of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which were sent to Eliot's godson Tom Faber, the son of his publisher Geoffrey Faber, and sold for £45,600, and letters to Geoffrey Faber's wife Enid made £55,000. 

Bonhams 2: 'Literary and other portraits'

A unique pen and ink sketch of a young Ted Hughes by Sylvia Plath, one of the feature items in the Roy Davids collection comprising portraits of writers, artists and musicians at Bonhams rooms at New Bond Street, London on 3rd October was bought by the National Portrait Gallery for £27,600.

It is the most extensive private collection, of some 300 historical portraits, to come to auction in recent years, the first ever sale entirely devoted to portraits at an international auction house and was compiled by the noted manuscript expert and collector Roy Davids, formerly head of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s. The sale's top lot was a lively portrait of T. S. Eliot painted in oil by Sir Gerald Kelly, which sold for £50,400.


An Interview with Geraldine Evans, writer of Crime, Romantic and historical fiction and short Non-fiction.

What a versatile writer she is: two different crime series, a romance, short non-fiction on a variety of subjects, and in 2004, as well as two crime novels, her first historical novel. When asked what made her try writing so many different things Geraldine replied:

"I suppose I just like variety. But after starting out writing romantic novels, only the sixth of which was ever published, I decided I'd try my hand at crime novels. I sent Dead Before Morning, my first attempt in the genre, to Macmillan, the second publisher on my submission list, and it was pulled out of their slush pile and published in 1993."

That was the first in the Rafferty & Llewellyn series. The seventh, Bad Blood, was published in December 2004. All Geraldine’s crime novels have a strong humorous element. So what made her decide to write humorous crime novels rather than more serious crime?

Geraldine tells us "I suppose it's just that I've always found the more humorous crime novel doubly entertaining. You not only have the mystery to solve, but the characters generally get themselves in to all kinds of entertaining scrapes as well. Anyway, after I decided that was what I wanted to do, I came up with DI Joseph Aloysius Rafferty, Catholic-raised and secondary modern educated, from a working-class family far from averse to back-of-a-lorry bargains - particularly his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. For his foil I hit on Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn - the university-educated only son of a Methodist minister - a morally upright Welshman who thought the law should apply to everybody - even the mothers of detective inspectors. All I had to do then was write the novel… “

Geraldine also has a second crime series on the go - the Casey & Catt series. The police characters are DCI Will (Willow Tree) Casey, whose parents are nreconstructed old hippies and Sergeant Thomas Catt, the politically-incorrect product of children’s homes.

Geraldine’s first historical novel, Reluctant Queen, was published in March 2004, under the name Geraldine Hartnett. This tells the story of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's younger sister. What attracted Geraldine to this character in particular?

She tells us "I love the Tudor period. The characters are all so much larger than life. And although I had only learned a little about Mary's life, it intrigued me enough to try to find out more. And then I discovered the rest of the story of her love for Charles Brandon, whose father had saved the life of Henry and Mary's father, Henry VII, at the Battle of Bosworth, and although Henry pushed the teenaged Mary in to marrying the old and sickly King Louis X11 of France for State reasons, Mary was determined not to let Henry force such a marriage on to her a second time. So she schemed to defy Henry and marry Charles Brandon."

Does Geraldine have a typical writing day as most authors seem to? "No. Not really. When I started out, I was working five full days a week as an office temp. Now, although I no longer have a day job, I still work in the evenings. I used to work a seven day week, but now, thankfully, it's down to five and a half or six."

All writers seem to settle on a favourite writing method. Some, particularly crime writers, have said they prefer to do their plotting from the end to the beginning. Is that Geraldine’s method of writing? ‘'No. For my crime novels at least, my brain thinks in scenes, which I then slot in to place and draft and redraft. I used to have to do a lot of cutting and pasting, but with more experience, I seem to have reduced much of that element and the number of drafts required."

Geraldine has also had articles published on such diverse subjects as history, writing and new age subjects. Owing to the demands of novel writing the articles have been on hold for a while. But it's certainly something she would like to take up again.

With all her experience as a writer, is there any advice Geraldine would give to anyone who might just be starting out on a writing career? "Yes. Firstly don't try copying writing trends. Write what you want to write - I found my particular niche by looking at what I preferred to read. Secondly, listen to that wise little voice that is telling you, as mine did, that writing romances (or whatever) isn't really your thing. I ignored that little voice. It took six years and six books for one of my romances to get published, yet my very first attempt at a crime novel achieved publication on only its second outing. Thirdly, do make use of professional criticism services. I found their advice invaluable. On the Advice section of my website, would-be writers will find the details of two reputable firms, one of whom I used in the past."

If you would like to know more about Geraldine Evans and her novels, visit her website: www.geraldineevans.com

Appended below, are details of Geraldine’s novels, non-fiction and their publishing details:

Dead Before Morning
(Pub: Macmillan 1993, St Martin’s Press, H/B, NY 1993, Worldwide P/B, US 1995)
Down Among The Dead Men
(Pub: Macmillan 1994, St Martin’s Press, H/B, NY 1994, Worldwide P/B, US 1996)
Death Line
(Pub: Macmillan 1995, Ulverscroft Large-Print 1997)
The Hanging Tree
(Pub: Macmillan 1996, Ulverscroft Large-Print 1997)
Absolute Poison
(Pub: Severn House Dec 2002)
Up In Flames
(Pub: Severn House Dec 2003)
Dying For You
(Pub: Severn House, UK June 2004, US August 2004)
Bad Blood (Pub: Severn House, UK Dec 2004, US March 2005)
Love Lies Bleeding
(Pub: Severn House, UK Aug 2005, US Nov 2005)

Land of Dreams
(Romance, Pub: Robert Hale 1991 (first published novel)
Reluctant Queen
(Under the name Geraldine Hartnett - Historical, Robert Hale 2004)

Various, but includes the following:
Carve His Name with Pride (The Life of Grinling Gibbons, the master carver)
Palace of History (The story of Whitehall Palace)
What’s In a Name? (British Place Names) All published byThe Lady magazine)

Others include:
Horatio Nelson - East Anglian Courage (Suffolk & Norfolk Life)
Edith Cavell - East Anglian Courage (Norfolk Life)

Articles on writing:
A Cautionary Tale (The dangers of getting a writing idea)
The Proof of the Pudding (Why persistence pays in spite of rejections)
Cartography and Fiction (The importance of drafting a map of series’ locations)
Written in the Stars (Astrology and writing)
Write Lines (Palmistry and the writer) All published by Writers’ Monthly

Romance - Palmistry
Love Lines (Learning More About a Lover) Published by Dateline Magazine


The 2005 Man Booker shortlist

The six authors shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the UK’s best known literary award, was announced by the chair of judges, John Sutherland, at a press conference at the Man Group offices in London on 8th September.

The six shortlisted books were chosen are:

Banville, John

The Sea


Barnes, Julian

Arthur & George

Jonathan Cape

Barry, Sebastian

A Long Long Way

Faber & Faber

Ishiguro, Kazuo

Never Let Me Go

Faber & Faber

Smith, Ali

The Accidental

Hamish Hamilton

Smith, Zadie

On Beauty

Hamish Hamilton


Harry Potter sales reach 300 million

With one more title to come in the promised series of seven, worldwide book sales of the Harry Potter saga have reached 300 million, J. K. Rowling's agent Christopher Little has announced, with more than 100 million of those being USA sales.

The film version of the fourth book, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', is due for release by Warner Brothers on 18th November 2005.


Next Month: The feature slot for November 2005 is currently vacant


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