Rather thrillingly – very thrillingly – I’ve been given an OBE (“for services to literature and drama”). It actually made the front page of our local paper here in Wales, the Powys County Times, underneath photographs of the recent Tractor Rally. Most novelists I know feel like imposters – we create characters who don’t exist and expect people to believe in them; one day somebody’s going to call our bluff. So it’s particularly gratifying to have such a grown-up recognition of what I do for a living. Because, of course, the imagination is the point of everything.
Some things are so bizarre, however, that you couldn’t make them up because nobody would believe them. The tragi-comedy of “Tulip Fever”, my disaster movie, took another turn when the Weinstein revelations destroyed any hope of its opening in cinemas here in the UK, at least for now. Previous postings have followed its rollercoaster will it/won’t it journey, and I still have hopes that it will be screened – it’s really rather good, looks magical, and has a stellar cast. But your guess is as good as mine. I just grieve for all those talented people whose work might not be seen – actors, designers, crew members, costumiers – casualties of so many productions which have been destroyed by the recent sex scandals.
Another bizarre event in my life, my mother’s trial for murder, has resulted in a play that’s opening this winter. It’s called The Promise and it’s at the New Diorama Theatre in Regent’s Park, London, on 21 and 23 February, and then, hopefully, touring. A group of actors heard about my mother’s case: some 35 years ago she helped an old lady die, and was arrested and sent to prison. It was big news at the time; the actors used transcripts from the trial, and it’s sure to fuel the debate about assisted suicide. Legislation lags so far behind public opinion on this matter, and every bit helps.
Meanwhile I’m working on The Great Escaper for the BBC. It’s the true story of Bernie Jordan, an 89-year-old D Day veteran, who in 2014 went AWOL from his care home and made his way to France, to take part in the 70th anniversary celebrations. It’s another story that hit the headlines – indeed, another story about courage – and I hope to do it justice.
Happy new year to you all and do get in touch if you fancy, you know the address: firstname.lastname@example.org