Thursday, 19 February 2009

Not Very Nice

Generally speaking, people tend to think of themselves as being, you know, nice. That is to say, good; having the right sort of opinions on things, being kind to others, not being spiteful or mean. And mostly they're right; I have enough of a positive outlook on life to believe that, by and large, there are more OK people out there than not-OK people.

But there is a problem with niceness, and it is this: ask yourself how you'd like to be remembered after you're gone. Would you want to be remembered for your niceness? I mean, all right, yes, you're kind to people and you hope that's appreciated, that all? Hmm. I doubt it. I expect you'd prefer to be remembered for being a great actor, or sporting hero, or perhaps for saving people's lives. As for me, just for the record, I DON'T want to be remembered as that nice lady who wrote pink books, OK? Or, for that matter, as the pink lady who wrote nice books.

My books aren't nice.

I DO hope they are good; I strive hard to make sure they are the best work I can produce. I hope they entertain, and perhaps even prompt a bit of reflection. But NICE? Pah!

What's got me onto this particular train of thought? I'm not entirely sure, but some time around the back end of last week I did get on a train to Doncaster, so maybe that has something to do with it. I was going there for the Doncaster Children's Book Award, and I suppose any time I'm the focus of media attention (daarling!) I start to muse and fret over how my work and I are perceived, partly because I will insist on grinning all the time, and my books are sparkly and pretty.

Anyway, I was going to the Doncaster Award because Pink Chameleon was long-listed for it (there's me on stage at Doncaster, above). I was especially pleased for this to happen with this particular title, because its pinkness has been known to put off persons of the male persuasion. And I was glad that several boys bought copies for themselves, and also that a few of them reviewed it for the Award.
Liam from Year 6, Hatfield Woodhouse Primary School said:
"I read this book before it is so awesome you have to read it!!"
Kyle from Year 10, Ridgewood School, said:
"At first when I saw this book, I was completely put off reading it. Why? Basically, because it's a pink book. But this is where the saying 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' comes in. It truely is a great book once you get into it."

Thanks, Liam and Kyle! But what makes it 'awesome' and 'great'? Not niceness, I can assure you! No: like all the books I've written so far, it was fuelled at least in part by ANGER. And no, I'm not going to explain exactly what I was angry about and why, because if I have to do that, then what's the point of writing my books? I've said what I have to say; it's all in there. Go away, read them, and figure it out for yourself. There: you see? I'm not about bland, fluffy niceness. So now! I may look harmless, but then so does this kitten (right) but really it is a vicious, murderous beast.

OK, I'm not a vicious, murderous beast, but I hope you get the point. And the only reason I grin all the time instead of looking moody and interesting is because if I try to do moody and interesting I look as if I'm about to burst into tears. I can't help it; I just have that sort of face.
Have fun reading my books by all means (and here I will shamelessly shoehorn in another review I liked, because this is MY blog and I CAN: Megan from Year 6, Montagu School, Mexborough, says,"on one chapter I went through about twenty tissues and then the next i was almost wetting my pants." Excellent! Thanks Megan: just the effect I was aiming for.) But there's other stuff going on there as well, if you look for it; more so, actually, as you go through the Silk Sisters trilogy. And by the way, to the one young reviewer who was annoyed that everything wasn't all wrapped up by the end of Book One, I say; what would be the point of my writing books two and three, then?

I should probably mention that Pink Chameleon didn't with the Doncaster Book Award; that accolade went to Benjamin Zephaniah's book Teacher's Dead. I haven't read it, but I'm sure it's very good, and you should read it if you haven't already. Zephaniah himself was unable to attend, and I was disappointed not to meet him as I have long been an admirer of his work; I did, however, meet Ed Miliband, who is MP for Doncaster North and several milibands taller than me, and George Layton who, if you're of my generation, basically wrote every sitcom you watched in the seventies, acted in a lot of them, has treaded the boards in the West End as Fagin among many roles, written some very good books...and in between all that, somehow managed to find time to be the voice of the Tetley Tea man as well. Which, if you're not of my generation, won't mean a thing to you but trust me, it would be like you meeting Tony the Tiger from the Frosties ads. (Sorry George, I couldn't resist...)

Oh, by the way, in case you're wondering who those dangerous looking ladies are at the top of this post, they are, from the top: Germaine Greer, Patti Smith and Vivienne Westwood. Find out more about them if you want to. I'm not as old as any of them yet, but I admire them all in different ways and I hope I grow old as disgracefully as they all have, God love 'em. And none of them could be accused of being nice.


CharlotteLUVSyourbooks!!!Iamgonnamakeabiographyalaboutyou! said...

Hi Fiona!
How are you?
I was just wandering do you know the exact date that tiger.lily gold is out???And also please can you sell the apple star?!
I would be fabulous and i would so buy it!
Please reply!
ps also, do you know any other really fab authors like you?!

fionadunbar said...

Hi Charlotte. Sorry! Meant to say that Tiger-Lily Gold is out on MAY 7th!

Re: letters: will do today. Oh dear, not doing so well on the new year's resolution front. They are lovely letters and please tell Anna and Ket I really haven't forgotten them!

F x

fionadunbar said...

I mean Kat.


hi fiona it is anna!
are you ok
did you enjoy the snow i live in devon so we didn't get as much as some lucky people!! do you do book signings? because i would really love to come
can you recomend any books you think i should read?? same about the apple star i would buy it!!! annaxxxx

FionaDunbaristhebestatwritingwickbooks!!! said...

Hi fiona!!
about the book signings that would be fab u lus!!!!! And would you ever maybe think about doing some in exeter or plymouth, they are both near where me and azzie live!!
I would love to meet you as to me you are an inspriation to keep on reading and writing and i am going to make a little booklet/biography about you!!!
Please reply when you have approved this!!!

fionadunbar said...

Hi Anna. If this is the Anna I think it is, I'm writing to you right now! I suggest you ask your English teacher or librarian if they would like to get me in for a visit.
Other books? Hmm. Well, all the writers that I can think of are better known than me – like Cathy Cassidy, Karen McCombie. For fantasy, Philip Pullman, Diana Wynne Jones. I don't know what you've read already! But you might find the Books for Keeps website helpful: Hope that helps.

fionadunbar said...

Oh, and the snow was a bit of a pain in London, to be honest!

hiya! said...

Hi Fiona, it's Charlotte.
I would love to get you in to do a signing.
I can ask my librarian but how will we get in contact with you?
Please reply!
do you get alot of fans on here?
I dont wanna sound obsessed!!lol!

fionadunbar said...

It's easy for your librarian to get in touch with me; he/she can just email me via my website. Good luck!

Charlotte Mullarkey! Xo XxXx said...

Also, what books could you recommend for me to read?!
I am a reading machine and i want to read something chick lit but with a bit of magic like the lulu baker series. I prefer Fantasy though and i have read the books by phillip pullman and diana wynne jones!!
Have you ever heard of Nick Arnold, her writes the horrible science series. I have met him as he helped to save our pinhoe library from being closed down!! When you were my age, 12 , did you love reading as much as you can tell i do?!
Anna and Kathryn were really excited when i told them about your reply.
Did you like the snow, even though it must have been a REAl pain!! I loved it!! You are so lucky to get so much!! Hi Anna, I can't wait until we go to Crufts, i just hope Skye wins something, it would be so amazing if she did!!!
Both please reply!!
Luv u!!

fionadunbar said...

Trouble is, I don't actually know of anyone else who's writing 'chick lit with a bit of magic' (though I think that's a great way to describe my books!) You might want to try the Twilight books...though you probably already have.

Charlotte Mullarkey Xo XxXx said...

no but i will try them!!!

Charlotte Mullarkey Xo XxXx said...

are they the ones by Stephenie Meyer?

fionadunbar said...

Yes. Not like my books (no humour) but...well, certainly popular.

Jon M said...

You met George Layton? I'm so jealous now! He wrote The Fib and loads of other brilliant short stories!!! I have to say...I bought Toonhead today...but will not be put off by the pinkness of the other books in future!

fionadunbar said...

Hi Jon. Thanks for buying my book! I hope you enjoy it. I agree, George Layton's writing is very good...I bought The Fib for my son, another George.

Lucy Coats said...

Fiona, Something Really Nice for you this morning. You have been nominated for the blogging Sisterhood Award at today, so please drop by and take a look! xx

fionadunbar said...

Wow, thanks, Lucy! Will get to this soon. Actually, I have to credit Candy for 'Wonderfully Wacky Wesponses'!