In the weeks since my last update, I’ve had a glimpse of what it could be like to be a famous writer. At February’s Novel Nights hosted by Grace Palmer and Helen Sheppard at the Strawberry Thief, on the theme of language, I read an extract from my novel Stirring the Pot. Most of its characters are bilingual and I’ve tried to write the story to reflect the English of that part of the world. The example I read was set in a liquor shop where the characters are purely Tamil speakers and it hopefully reflected somewhat accurately their speech and thoughts. It went down surprisingly well and for a fleeting moment I wondered if I’d let slip a career as a genius stand-up comic.
A week after that, I was on my way to Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross, London, for Discovery Day, a ‘speed-dating’ event for literary agents organised by Curtis Brown and Conville and Walsh. I was an hour early for my 1215 slot and as I took the lift to the 5th floor, seeing slick pitches on the TV screens everywhere, I was tasting my rising panic. I made sure the dapper young chap with a clipboard registered my presence and didn’t give my spot away to any of the wild hopefuls waiting on the bench alongside the cafe. But I had to head back out again for a breather and fortifying breakfast. Come the time, about a hundred of us queued up to climb the steps to the auditorium where agents sat at tables, speed-dating style. My assigned agent was Lucy Morris – I had to make the 30 second pitch about myself and my novel. The entire slot was six minutes and we were asked to take our opening page from our novel. Lucy warned me that she might appear as if she was frowning while reading. She didn’t frown at all and she said it read very well and it all felt as if it was about to end after just two minutes. I stretched it a bit longer and we had a good discussion about the emotional journey of the main character. As I left, we were guided to small tables to speak directly to agents – Sophie Lambert answered them very well and encouraged us to send our submissions now that we’d attended the Day. Promising stuff.
Back in Bristol, on this cold Sunday afternoon, it is Mother’s Day. All my years of motherhood bar one have been in the UK – so I’m a British Mum through and through, it would seem. From the days of receiving a teabag stuck to a card made at school to many thoughtful presents and lovely treats, I’m a lucky mother indeed. All my years of daughterhood were in India of course, where everyday is Mother’s Day, if you asked my mother. Those years were a crazy mix of hero-worship and admiration for her hard work, my growing up free and unfettered, tasting independence and then all of a sudden conforming to some fairly traditional rules. While in school (Rosary Matriculation), we learnt this powerful song – Mother of Mine. It is adulatory on the surface but as you listen, it provokes a train of thought that is a journey in itself.