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Spring 2005

I’ve just finished writing the film script of “These Foolish Things” for Working Title. It’s been very fascinating; at first the characters stayed stubbornly on the page, locked into their novel-life. Then, after a few weeks, they blinked and shook themselves free, stepping out of the page into their new identities. They did bolder things, because film characters do behave differently; they push the action to the ultimate. For instance, in the book Evelyn just visits the call centre and tells the kids about Enfield; in the film she puts on a headset and becomes the star of the place. There’s a movie-moment when the kids remove their headsets, one by one, as she charms the English callers. So the characters alter, subtly, as well as the plot. The new story now lies like a hologram over the novel, it’s rather disorientating. But one of the advantages of adapting ones own novel is that you know the characters so deeply you have a lot to draw on, and can somehow absorb any changes. Still, it’s a weird business…(There are also a lot of new jokes).


“These Foolish Things” ( the novel) has been made the “Daily Mail” Book Club choice for April. Book clubs all over the country read it and the paper suggests questions and so on. They also buy the novel at half-price. There’s a lot to discuss – the subject is so very topical, each day there’s a story in the papers about care of the elderly, dwindling pensions and so on. Not to mention outsourcing everying to call centres in Bangalore. Why not outsource the elderly? The thought of sipping a gin-and-tonic in the sunny garden of a retirement hotel in India, rather than gazing at the rain sliding down the window of a cabbage-smelling Home in Worthing, is certainly seductive, don’t you think?


Due to the Book Club business, the paperback of “These Foolish Things” is published in April. It was supposed to come out in February, so sorry about that. But you can buy it now, so go on…


Several of my other novels have now been re-issued in paperback, with nice new photographic jackets. “Porky”, my novel about incest, “Driving in the Dark”, about a coach driver looking for his lost son, “Seesaw” about a teenage kidnap, “Stolen” which is about a muslim father abducting his children – they’re also in the bookshops now. And more titles are to be re-issued in the coming months.


I’m going to be giving a talk in Amsterdam about “Tulip Fever” on April 8 (part of the BritLit season), and I’m appearing at the Hay Festival on 3 and 5 June, giving a masterclass on my movie adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” and doing a Good Housekeeping Literary Lunch with Sandy Toksvig, Mavis Cheek and Jane Fonda. I’m also the guest on Radio 3’s “Private Passions” on 8 May. “Pride and Prejudice”, as I wrote before, looks completely wonderful. It’s still in post-production and will appear in cinemas in September. That’s the latest news on a release date, anyway. I’ll tell you if it changes. No new news on the film of “Tulip Fever”.


Still haven’t thought of a novel but hey, it’s spring. Do email me, I love hearing from you.