The most thrilling news this autumn is that my daughter Lottie’s novel, “Kiss Me First”, has been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. This covers both fiction and non-fiction, and is voted for by book clubs – in other words, normal readers – as well as professionals. At this very moment her book is also top of the Amazon Literary Fiction list. It’s an extraordinary novel and very different to anything I’ve written which is a relief I think for both of us. It’s a complex situation, having a parent who’s a writer – I should know, as both of my parents were writers too. She’s negotiated this with spectacular results, so do read her novel – “Kiss Me First” by Lottie Moggach.
As you might know, my son Tom has also written a book. “The Urban Kitchen Gardener” was published last year and is filled with entertaining information on how to grow food in the city – he works in primary schools, encouraging children to learn about plants and cooking. There are lots of interesting recipes too. That’s your Christmas sorted.
Other news is that the sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, which is called – not hugely unsurprisingly – “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, is due to start filming in India in the New Year. It’s the same cast on board – all except for Tom Wilkinson, for the simple reason that his character died in the first film. There are also rumours that Richard Gere is going to join the cast, which would give even more of a zip to things. Lucky them, I say, spending two months in Jaipur with their mates…
I’m busy trying to adapt “Heartbreak Hotel” as a movie. This is more difficult than I thought as there’s a huge amount of back-story in the novel, which of course one can’t put into a film, so the present-day, ongoing action has to be beefed up. This leads to all sorts of changes, which also alter the characters – would they really do that? Where will that lead them? In a book, characters can have muddled motives – the author might not even know what they are – but in a film script the writer has to be absolutely confident of what it’s all about – if not, how can the actors get their heads around it? So it’s turning out to be an interesting process but not without its problems.
I’m also adapting a novel called “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson. It’s been a big bestseller, and features a crusty old Major who falls in love with the Pakistani woman who runs the village shop. I can see why people love the book – it’s charming and funny and touches lightly on themes of racism, both overt and subconscious, as well as love in later years, which seems to be becoming something of a speciality of mine (both on and off the page, as I’ve just got married again at the ripe age of 65).
There are also murmurings about “Tulip Fever” and I will hopefully have some news on that soon. Meanwhile I’m trying to think of a new novel whilst also whizzing around the country performing at events and also trying to learn the tango for a cameo appearance in the Presteigne panto – how closely does life resemble “The Archers”! Or indeed visa versa. (Presteigne, by the way, is the town known at Knockton in “Heartbreak Hotel”).
Meanwhile I send you my best wishes and do get in touch if you feel like it, at email@example.com