Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bedtime reading

[it really is]

My bedtime reading material lately has been this ex-library copy of Meet the Authors and Illustrators by Stephanie Nettell. Apart from the fact that the cover is gloriously and adorably filled with Quentin Blake's zany and colourful drawings, this book appeals to me because I'm obsessed with processes. Do you remember "Through the Windows" on Playschool, when you would be whisked through a window (only ever rarely the arch-shaped one) and into another world? My favourites were always the factory ones, when you could see crayons being made or eggs being processed or violins being crafted.

It's the same now, only the process I love to learn about the most is the making of books. That's why this one is so awesome; it's filled with interviews with sixty children's (my favourite genre) writers and illustrators, and the stories of how they launched into the writing world.

The accidental ones -- the stories of authors who fell into writing quite by mistake and sold something before they even realised they'd written it -- bug me a little bit. They make it seem all arty and ethereal and like if you've got it, you've got it, and if you haven't, then give up. The hard-work ones -- the tales of people who just really really wanted to be good with words and so they wrote their fingers off -- make me all happy and inspired. And the surprising, unexpected tales just make me feel warm and fuzzy.

The coolest thing of all, though, is when you see how words collide. Witness these facts:

01. I love C.S. Forester's Hornblower.
02. I also love Roald Dahl (in a purely literary sense, of course).
03. I love The Saturday Evening Post (mostly because Normal Rockwell did many of the covers)
04. I also love vintage movies and actors (Paul Newman among them).

That's why it was crazy to discover that the amazing C.S. Forester actually interviewed Roald Dahl -- before he was "Roald Dahl" -- about his wartime experiences. Dahl offered to write his answers to the questions, and when he sent them away, Forester wrote back with, "Did you know you were a writer?" and the Saturday Evening Post printed the reminiscences completely unchanged. Later in life, Dahl married actress Patricia Neal who went on to win and Oscar for her work alongside Paul Newman in Hud.

The world is tiny and getting ever smaller, I have to say. I love these kinds of stories.

What books are on your bedside table right now?



Staish -- I am here to remind you: DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR. Also: Get Your Words Out *is* a Wonderfalls shout-out! That's where the community name came from :).

Amanda -- you went to that very Speedway? Now what was I just saying about the world being small? PS. I know; Sugar can be a sweetheart when he wants to be.

Rachael -- Carla does have a blog!

Arny -- Ah, I hate it when computers eat things they aren't supposed to! *hi back*!

Carla -- oh no, you're not out of touch! Bronzing balls are just bronzing powder (like blush, only... golden) molded into little balls. It's better for girls like me with less Victorian skin tonings and more... I-don't-know skin tonings. I like to think it's beachy and Australian.


  1. I grew up on the Gold Coast, thus the speedway visit.

    At the moment my bedside books are "Absolute Surrender" by Andrew Murray and my trusty old Bible.

    I hope you are having a lovely week. :)

  2. Yeah, why was it that they hardly ever used the amazing arched window?

    Speaking of your words, remember how you promised you'd let me read your novel? Actually, that might be stretching the truth slightly... I think you said maybe one day... but I'd still love to!

    I adored talking to you on the phone the other day!


  3. I'm inching my way through "The Best American Travel Writing of 2007." It's great reading, but it's a little terrible because I want to go to ALL of the places written about...including the one entitled "The Lonely Planet Guide to My Apartment."

  4. Hi Danielle -

    I just happened upon your blog via Bethany, and have enjoyed "meeting' you - in this crazy, cyberish way. I've really enjoyed your blog!

    I've just finished "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall". It takes me a few weeks to commit to another book...

    That book you picked up about Dahl looks fascinating - I am a bit jealous...


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