Not only am I back at my desk after a week of gallivanting but also, this morning, Telephone Wonder Engineer restored my phone line and my access to the Internet. In equal measure I’m grateful to be back in business and slightly embarrassed at how my life screeched to a halt just because of a short-circuit. Or something.
The Chiswick Book Festival was a superb event. I have no idea whether other novelists long to see their characters take on flesh – Dickens certainly did – but for me it was, thus far, the pinnacle of A Humble Companion’s success. What authors and their accountants dream of is the big fat movie option, but that so often ends in disappointment, either because the project never goes into production, or because the finished product is such a travesty of the original book you wonder why anyone bothered. Brief dramatisations are much more satisfying and an achievable airing. Also, they remain under my artistic control. It may be a small thing, but it’s mine, mine, mine.
The Chiswick event was a collaboration and Nellie couldn’t have managed it without Dick Morphew or, as he’s known in the real world, Peter Page, goldsmith, am dram veteran, and all round good egg. Whatever costume a character requires Peter probably has one in his attic. Failing that he knows lots of clever people who’ll create something for him. A man who leaves no sequin unturned, he has even been known to have dental prostheses made, the better to get into character. His next appearance will be in Venice in January playing the role of Mavis Ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk.
So Nellie’s gown and her little boots have been put away. Whether she’ll ever wear them again, who can say. I felt rather sad stashing everything in the trunk, like when a friend goes away with no immediate prospect of returning. There’s just one straw of consolation. Next month sees the publication of The Liar’s Daughter, and a couple of new characters to launch into the world. But for now, back to work.