The Road To Beijing Athlete Update.

Sport  After last night's extraordinary opening ceremony which covered all my bases (Ken!  Sugababes!  TARDIS!  Sir Tim Berners-Lee!) and not going to bed until two o'clock, I was still up and almost wide awake this morning to see Larry Godfrey as part of the Men's Archery team in the opening match of the championship at Lords Cricket Ground, where a stadium's been built in the middle of the pitch right across the wickets.  In the event, we lost to the Ukraine 223-212 and although that score looks close we were out of contention within the first few arrows, a splattering of tens (which I cheered) balanced out by some sevens.

Rather like watching darts which can kill you, this made for surprisingly exciting television.  The coverage included three nested commentaries:  the BBC's team, another voice in the background which I think was Hugh Sykes (usually heard covering the revolution in Egypt) talking for the radio and the public address system actually commenting on the athletes performance while they were in earshot which must be a bit distracting.  But it did have the added bonus once they'd lost of building their spirits.  "They'll be back in their individual events" said the PA as they strolled out of the stadium, "All fired up."  Yes!

Updated!  Larry has commented on the loss to The Guardian: "It's sad. I came here to win two medals and now one has gone. I thought we did everything right. We prepared right and practised well. Everything has been brilliant, apart from the match …"

The Road To Beijing Athlete Update.

Sport Yes, I know. But I'm not sure what else to call this so might as well go with the classic. Archer Larry Godfrey says he's 'in the form of his life and proves it by coming fourth in today's ranking ahead of sixty other competitors, with a season's best and personal best.

  The score card's here.

It does look like a mountain to shoot over though. The top ranked athlete, Im Dong-Hyun managed a world record today and he's legally blind in one eye.

Meanwhile James Godard has been confirmed as a member of the swimming team.

"because he’s dead in the eyes"

Foden 4800 Sefton Park

Links  Yesterday I attended the fun fair in Sefton Park.  After the abject terror of the Sky Rider and being tipped upside down with hundreds of metre below me and thinking the chest bar was loose (my arms still hurt from holding the other bars) I visited the waltzers, which was fine for the first two minutes.  Five minutes later motion sickness ensued and the Christmas dinner, or at least my Christmas dinner was postponed for a few hours while I stopped feeling quite so ill.

Meanwhile, Vogue Magazine has news of the Harvey Nicks beauty shop soon to be opening in Liverpool One, the Beauty Bizarre:
"Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols will be the first one-stop destination for all things beauty," Harvey Nichols group concessions and beauty director, Daniela Rinaldi, said today. "This truly unique space, spread across three floors, will house the very best brands in the market, alongside the very latest services that will ensure grooming of the highest level, all within the convenience of a single space. Globally, this will be the first time international and premium brands will be housed within such a luxurious environment, anchored by a fabulous Champagne and Cocktail Bar, to ensure that Beauty Bazaar is an experience like no other."

One of The Guardian's sub-editors writes about her godforsaken job. Is subedited by a colleague who introduces errors into the piece at a late stage. Hilarity ensues in the comments:
"Not Charlotte's fault – I was doing some late editing on this and typed that in a hurry. About the worst crime a sub can commit is introducing errors at a late stage and there, I've gone and done it. Now fixed – thanks."

Amazing scenes this morning at Shakespeare's Globe when it was visited by the olympic torch. The bearer, Ify, is interviewed by their blog:
"It was amazing. I didn’t know there would be so many people in the theatre so I was amazed how much noise everyone made. I thought there would be only a few people in there. (She laughs when we tell her there were several hundred people watching her.) I could see people in the audience who I didn’t even know cheering and crying."

A 6-year-old Guesses What Classic Novels Are All About
"[On The Road] “I think it’s about a car. A car that goes to Mexico, Indonesia and other places. It’s about a car that goes on all sorts of adventures. The guy on the cover is a teen, he likes to drive people places a lot. And he’s French.”"

Maureen Dowd, Cub Reporter
"Six weeks before the AIDS story was published, Dowd had gotten her first byline as a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk. Fairly unremarkable, it's about Columbia University's just-completed Computer Science Building, on which $5.6 million was spent. It's notable mostly for the prediction of Arno Penzias, a vice president of research for Bell Laboratories and a Nobel Laureate in physics. "By 1986, there will be more microprocessors being produced than McDonald's hamburgers," he told Dowd. "The Dick Tracy wrist radio is not that far away."

BBC Archive: Behind the scenes at the 1948 Austerity Games
"These 'Austerity Olympics' were not only the first post-war Games, but also the first Olympics in which British television played a role. This collection of programmes and photographs looks back at the Games, remembering the athletes who took part and revealing the BBC's role in televising events."

Fantastically outspoken interview with Joanna ("Stacey") Page by The Stage on the subject of ITV's Superstar
"“Think about Ramin [Karimloo]. He was in a rock band and he is amazing. He would even look like Jesus. But you have Andrew Lloyd Webber saying about a U2 song Rory sang - which was performed with no facial expression because he’s dead in the eyes - that he did not know any musical theatre star who could sing like that. What about Ramin? He just played the Phantom for you. How insulting. It’s disgusting.”"

Fantastically outspoken interview with Julie ("Celine") Delpy by The Village Voice on the subject of her career:
"My agent called, and he was like, 'What are you doing?' And I'm like, 'Well, I'm writing a screenplay with Ethan and Richard for a sequel.'
"And he was like, 'Why are you doing that?'
"And then he called me back an hour later, and he's like, 'Well, we had a meeting, and you know, we think you're not focusing enough on your acting career.' I mean, he asked me to play a sexy Latina in Rush Hour 3 or whatever." The agent, she says, would send her to read for parts that were already cast, just to keep her busy."

Sex, violence and swearing on film: 100 years of the BBFC
"Probably the nearest we get these days to getting out the protractor is on language." They have reluctantly concluded there is no substitute for counting the swear words in a film. "It doesn't mean that's the only thing we look at – particularly with the f-word and the c-word – we'll look at whether they're comically mitigated, or aggressively aggravated, for instance. But if you don't count, you discover there's no stable boundary. So the rule of thumb is four fucks maximum at 12A."

I have a few years of my Tweets accessible in my Facebook timeline, but it's not ideal. Now Twitter itself is moving towards a facility for viewing archives and downloading:
"Users have been expecting and demanding this function for quite some time, and the great demand was also reflected in the creation of sites such as oldtweets, which allows users to search through some posts from Twitter's first year. While there are many, many boring tweets from that time, oldtweets still came with something Twitter did not offer."

Wait Until Dark: Audrey Hepburn's Non-Hitchcock Hitchcock Film
"Wait Until Dark (1967) is the best Hitchcock movie that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t direct. With a cast led by a cool brunette—Suzy Hendrix, played by Audrey Hepburn, who’d been tapped by Hitch to play just that type eight years earlier for his ill-fated No Bail for the Judge—the film is often mistakenly attributed to Hitch. Projecting his own pompousness on the director, critic Rex Reed huffed and puffed that “If Hitchcock could only laugh at himself, this is the movie he’d make.” It’s easy to see why."

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Schoolboy Oskar Schell sends himself on a mission to find the lock which fits a key he's found in the closet of his father who's recently died in 9/11. Days turn to weeks and eventually he's bursting to tell someone, that someone ultimately being "the renter", an elderly gentleman who lives with his grandmother. During one of the film's breathless montage sequences, he mentions the school's production of Hamlet:

It's a thematically pertinent choice as both Oskar and the Prince are experiencing the death of a parent in unbelievable circumstances.  The removal of the the skull mask to reveal Oskar's face fits all the relevant iconography into the shot making it entirely recognisable especially since as the novel indicates, he's playing Yorrick rather than the Hamlet.

Hamlet has a much stronger presence in Jonathan Safran Foer's novel.  Throughout Oskar mentions his Hamlet rehearsals and carries a copy of the script about with him on his quest, "so I could memorize my stage directions while I was going from one place to another, because I didn't have any lines to memorize".

In the film, Oskar notes that there are more people alive in the world now than have died in human history and that eventually there won't be enough places in the world to bury them.  In the novel, he says instead "if everyone want to play Hamlet at once, they couldn't, because there aren't enough skulls."

The book also features a section about the resulting production, "it was actually an abbreviated modern version, because the real Hamlet is too long and confusing, and most of the kids in my class have ADD.  For example, the famous "To be or not to be speech" [...] was cut down so that it was just "To be or not to be, that's the question."

This brief wiki is also worth reading for dialogue and thematic parallels: " Oskar, has a similar issue to the one represented in Hamlet's soliloquy - What is our purpose, what is the point to our life? After his father dies in 9/ll, Oskar struggles with why he should even live his life, What is the point of doing something if you could die tomorrow?"

our second annual mid-year Christmas dinner

Resplendent Turkey Steals The Show

Links Today we're a having our second annual mid-year Christmas dinner. Being British and without thanksgiving and with precisely no birthdays or anything else between Easter and September it seems we've decided to have a turkey dinner at the end of June, or as is the case this year, the end of July.

FACT Liverpool's Gallery Assistant Lesley on invigilating The Humble Market:
"Lying on a mound of astro-turf with four women I had never met before, I asked them about their lives, their religion, and their thoughts on death. Instead of muttering clich├ęs or flinching away from such unspoken topics, they opened up completely to one another, and to me. They spoke of the best years of their lives, their belief in God and their concept of the human soul, and I, in turn, told them of my unflinching atheism, and the surprising comfort which I find in my belief of the lack of an afterlife."

The Stage's Scott Matthewman explains the flaws in ITV's Superstar:
"With Superstar, it seems we’ve lost both experience and theatrical sparkle. True, Dawn French lightens the whole mood — although if it were a gay man making the sort of comments she gets away with, or a straight man judging young women, a lot of her humour would come across as just plain creepy (cf. Barry Humphries and the Nancys on I’d Do Anything). Melanie Chisholm started off as an astute observer in the pre-recorded opening stages, but her move into the live studio rounds has emasculated her — possibly because she’s realised she’ll be sharing a stage with whoever the public votes in. It’d be hard to lay into an actor’s performance one week, and then play Mary Magdelene to his Jesus the next."

In what sounds like a one-line joke from McSweeney's Terry Jones of Monty Python is creating an opera based on Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat:
"Jones's version of The Owl and the Pussycat takes us to the story's roots, when the psychic wounds were delivered that made the owl and the pussycat flee an unfeeling society into exile, to a land where – talons and claws crossed – they would not be judged for their taboo-breaking trans-species relationship. "What interested me was how they got together. There must have been some tension. So this is the prequel, and at the end of the opera they jump into the pea-green boat and set sail.""

Annie Hall's New York locations, then and now.  The Coney Island section is especially depressing:
"It really blows my mind that, over 12 years later, it’s still just a weed-strewn dirt lot. This was really better? At the very least, could we please erect another iconic roller coaster in its place, perhaps one with a little house underneath the tracks?"

The TARDIS Eruditorum reaches Press Gang.  Loads of things I didn't know:
"Press Gang, in 1989, was not part of Doctor Who's story. But in hindsight, in secret histories, it clearly was. Moffat has said that he didn't write for the classic series mostly because it went off the air more or less exactly as he was starting to inquire about it. Russell T. Davies apparently had a script rejected by Cartmel. In hindsight we know how closely related these two shows were even at the time. It is not that the future has created the significance of Press Gang. Rather, it is that the future serves as an archeology of history, excavating this fossil in the landscape, showing what the terrain of our 1989 really was."

The BBC's research and development blog explain how they've utilised back issues of the Radio Times to create a database of all their programmes. From the comments:
"I trust that the vinyl album being handled by Alex Mansfield was not in fact your sole copy. I would be very upset if he handled any of my vinyl collection in that manner.

Caterina Fake on FOMA, and affliction which lingers with me too:
"At SxSW I see people wondering if they’re at the wrong party—the party where they are is lame, feels uncool, has too much brand advertising or doesn’t have anyone there they’d want to hook up with—and so they move on to the next party where they have to wait in line too long, can’t get a beer, or don’t find their friends, and so move on to the next venue where…and so on."

Vintage Library Posters From the 1960s:
"Canada-based library technician Enokson has a great online collection of colorful vintage posters that promote the use of libraries and help kids maneuver their way around one. She found them while digging through the library and believes them to be from when the library opened in the 1960s. "

Sarah Goodyear on boxy architecture:
"The same can often be said for the store itself. The idea that something as huge as a Costco, say, or a Walmart, could disappear is laughable. But it does. Like enormous, sheepish monsters crouching in plain sight, these stores erase themselves from our perception even as we look at them. And they blot out huge swaths of space around them at the same time. Try to describe the features of the area immediately around the last big-box store you visited. Can’t remember what it looked like? Me neither. It’s hard to recall the individual nuances of a left-turn lane, or a shopping-cart corral."

Jason Alexander on gun control in the US:
"These weapons are military weapons. They belong in accountable hands, controlled hands and trained hands. They should not be in the hands of private citizens to be used against police, neighborhood intruders or people who don't agree with you. These are the weapons that maniacs acquire to wreak murder and mayhem on innocents. They are not the same as handguns to help homeowners protect themselves from intruders. They are not the same as hunting rifles or sporting rifles. These weapons are designed for harm and death on big scales. "

The Adventuress of Henrietta Street.

Books  Cripes.  If you’ve been bothered with these reviews, you’ll know I’ve been anticipating The Adventuress of Henrietta Street with much the same grim determination as my root canal surgery, the general fear and loathing of not really knowing what to expect and just wanting to get it over with and the relief that flows from the ensuing pain killers.  Well, I’m post surgery and there’s certainly some relief and the surprising revelation that the experience was more painful for the Doctor than me.  We’ll talk about why soon, but safe to say that as with all of Lawrence Miles’s previous novels for the range, we’re in narrative napalm territory and another dozen or so books filled with authors attempting to pick up the pieces.  It’s the Who equivalent of Once More With Feeling without the songs.  Or fun.

Before writing this, I looked over my lengthy review of Interference and to spoil the ending of what you’re about to read, I’m actually going to use exactly the same closing paragraph now as then because its equally applicable.  I didn’t like the book and it’s for a similar set of very different reasons.  At a certain point, about half way through, I knew that if this hadn’t been what it was and the implications it would have for the next set of novels, I would have abandoned it already.  To an extent its Torchwood’s Miracle Day syndrome, where at a certain point you know you’re only paying attention because it’s Doctor Who, or part of the Doctor Who franchise.  Surprisingly, given the complexity of the book, the process of explaining my objections are relatively simple.  Which is good for me because this may not take too long to write.  Spoilers ahead obviously.

Perhaps its important firstly to note, I’ve no problems with the “suggested” story.  The Doctor and his companions emerge in London in the 1780s and take up residence in a brothel while they defend the planet from an invasion of apes, babwyns, who it seems are spilling out onto Earth via a portal after having infested the broken remains of Gallifrey.  At a certain point we’re introduced to Sabbath, a human with his own time machine and as the Doctor becomes frail and afflicted with a malady realises it's because the Time Lord has severed his link to the his home world.  Various shenanigans lead the Doctor to decide that if he marries a native of Earth, the titular adventuress, it’ll create a link to a different world, but Sabbath realises its more complicated than that and his cure will have serious ramifications for the future.

Phew.  This is just the sort of epic stuff which is the stock in trade of the new television series and in places it almost feels like a trial run, with the first appearance of the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” gag, a wedding utilising a female equal who bares not a little resemblance to River Song, a Doctor who knows he’s close to death making plans for it, a beard, sending out numbered envelopes, Gallifrey coming to Earth, a story unfolding across years and the assembling of an army from disparate factions to defend the planet when he lacks the strength.  It’s also about the Doctor making Earth his adopted home for which he’s become the defender which is certainly one of the big themes in the RTD/Moffat era, the lonely God looking for somewhere to leave his fez.

Even the book’s major addition to the mythology (or retcon depending on your point of view) has a certain poetry to it.  When we’re told in the closing moments that a Time Lord’s second heart is his connection to the Eye of Harmony back on Gallifrey, home literally being where the heart is, that redundancy is finally, rather magically “explained” and although as usually happens in this franchise its been thoroughly ignored in other iterations, it does add extra poignancy to the final moments of The End of Time when the Doctor has to send his home planet away again.  It also sets up what must the major thread running through the final blast of novels, the story of the Doctor fighting to not only get his memory back, but his planet and even his heart.  Would if grow back if he regenerated?  Surely it must.

The richest of the characters is Scarlette, the brothel owner turned action hero who the Doctor obviously views as an equal and fits the silhouette of the River Song figure, though she clearly shares some DNA with Irene Adler of Sherlock Holmes fame.  With her fiery red hair and temperament I cast Christina Hendricks for the part in my imagination and she is a rare example of a character in these novels who’s memorable enough to receive that treatment.  One of the guests to the wedding is a “man in a rosette” who must be the Master and though his incarnation his barely described, Miles economically captures his glorious charisma in just a few short lines and it’s a genuine disappointment that he’s not in the piece for longer, given more to do.

The key addition to the franchise is Sabbath and because the novel’s ten years old, I’m not unaware of how the author feels about his subsequent treatment by his fellow novelists who turned him into a proto-Master, when his notion is a bit more complex than that.  As his book enunciates, his character has in mind to fill the gap left by the Time Lords, appointing himself “time’s champion”.  Nevertheless he’s still an ambiguous figure and when he “saves” the Doctor its for his own ends.  That “black heart” which he whisks away after removing it from the Time Lord’s body isn’t some dead piece of alien flesh (which looks backwards towards Alien Bodies where even the Doctor’s corpse is an item of great power).  What's here is intriguing but he's by no means a fully rounded character because ...

... my enmity is for the way the story’s written.  Rather than simply offering all this as a fairly tradition piece of prose albeit with a few structural wiggles ala his previous novels, Miles renders it in the style of a contemporary popular history book written by an author who’s not terribly good at writing contemporary popular history books.  Given the intelligence Miles has displayed elsewhere, that choice seems deliberate, bravely opening himself up to the kind of criticism levelled at the purposefully rubbish third act of Charlie Kauffman’s screenplay to Adaptation, in which readers (or viewers in that case) and critics alike might assume that it’s just badly written.  I don’t think that.  I think in those terms it’s very well written, an excellent representation of the kinds of volumes which used to turn up in the two for one offer at Waterstones.

A huge impressive achievement, except like all bad contemporary popular history book written by an author who’s not terribly good at writing contemporary popular history books it’s an awful read, just as Adaptation's final movement is an impossible watch.  The haziness, hesitancy and obfuscation which can be inherent in the genre mean that the action is often difficult to follow as “Miles” as we’ll call this author within an author, pulls together the order of events from a series of contemporary accounts by the various characters including the Doctor and Scarlette, some named, others not, indicating that there’s no record of the truthiness of certain conversations or motives and there are sections which are clearly just plain unreliable if not also unreadable.  Important action, which in more conventional novels should drive the story forward becomes buried under a pile of “we don’t really know what happened” non sequitors.

That becomes especially damaging in relation to the characters.  For all the praise I’ve heaped on Scarlette as an idea, she never quite comes off the page as much as one would like because there are barely fragments of conversations between her and the Doctor and even then we’re told they’re not exactly what happened.  Same for Sabbath.  If  the motive is put the reader in the position of author filling in the blanks he succeeds, but I’m a terrible writer and there’s little doubt from what is here that what he might have come up with would have been infinitely superior to my sub-Moffat, sub-Nolan, sub-Ephron noodlings.  Doctor Who’s at its best when the characters are sharing witty or painful banter, laughing or breaking our hearts and that’s missing here.  It’s why I prefer Robert Holmes and Douglas Adams to Eric Saward or Chris Bidmead.

Eventually that leaks into the story which for all my intellectual admiration never quite hits the emotional marks you’d want it to or imagine it would.  Fitz and Anji in particular are shadows.  One of the better sections is set in Manchester during a turf war between the prostitutes of the house on Henrietta Street and the locals but ultimately that just turns out to be an unnecessary interlude.  Or at least seems to be.  There’s also acres of philosophical and thematic noodling and dozens of characters, the wedding guests from the various corners of the world that potentially only exist as part of the apparatus of the chosen writing style and in some cases reference books which most of us haven’t read.  Stuff happens.  Then some more stuff and oh it’s the zero room, squee, and oh more stuff.

Which means what you’re inevitably left with in the end is a real marmite of a book, and certainly I have seen reviews online from people who adore the novel.  I’m disappointed to say, that, despite usually championing the avant-guard, the post-modern, the experimental, the problem I have in the end despite having some wonderfully written passages and wanting to stretch the mythology of the series, experimenting with what’s there to create some new things, it doesn’t hang together as a coherent story.  It’s too busy answering questions no one’s asked and presenting other quandaries, which subsequent authors are going to have to twist their brain in order to find a solution.  It commits the sin of becoming too self-congratulatory, too convinced of its own brilliance and eventually gets lost up its own arse.  Sorry Lawrence.

a cool thing related to The Dark Knight Rises

Film  Allyn Gibson does a cool thing related to The Dark Knight Rises.  Not that you should read it unless you've seen the film.  Spoilers.  Spoilers.  And I can't even include a pull quote.

"Batman’s counter-terror measures"

Film  Batman expert Will Brooker explains what he thinks The Dark Knight Rises is about.  Spoilers.  Spoilers:
"Just as Batman Begins suggested that Scarecrow’s use of fear as a weapon was no different from Batman’s, and The Dark Knight ramped up the stakes by asking what, if anything, separated Batman’s counter-terror measures from Joker’s terror, so Dark Knight Rises is about the fragility of definitions, the limits of structures, the illusion of binary oppositions."
Which is about the only pull quote I can include here.  Spoilers.  Spoilers.

"I'd love to continue"

TV  News on a follow up series of The Hollow Crown.  Everyone seems interested according to Pippa Harris co-founder of Neal Street who produced the series:
"At the very least Harris would like to finish the cycle of history plays. "I'd love to continue through to Henry VI and Richard III, because it feels like a half completed journey," she says – adding that the nation's top directors would also be keen; many have been in touch to stake their claim on future plays should they be made."
Excellent news. Henry V had its detractors but with a couple of niggles I found it an excellent attempt to round off the series and especially remarkable for it being director Thea Shalcock's first piece of television.

there's no public voting

Art  Emily Speed who was the first person to undergo the trial of The Sunday Seven is in the long list of nominations for a Northern Art Prize.  There's not much more to add to that since there's no public voting, other than my congratulations [via]

a spoilery synopsis that describes most of the plot

Films  Seen The Dark Knight Rises now and Xan Brooks's review is indeed a spoilery synopsis that describes most of the plot.  It lack details but I'd certainly disagree with Catherine Shoad that it doesn't give away necessary plot points.  I'd say it ruins at least three surprises and though there are plenty more, I don't see it as the reviewers' job to simply didactically tell us what's in a film, rather to tell us if its any good.

Here's Kermode's review in comparison, which gives away nearly nothing whilst simultaneously says loads of useful things, not least to underscore its magnificence.

Even he says something which somewhat spoils the ending. Not in a detrimental way, and just in passing, but if you've got my kind of brain it may play on your mind.

As for my review.  Like I said.  It's magnificent.  That will do.  Thanks Chris.

The Road To Beijing:
London Olympics 2012.

Olympics  You might remember that this blog used to have a series, The Road To Beijing, which followed a group of athletes in the preparation for the 2008 games.  Here's the original post from 2004 explaining why I chose them, usually because they just missed out on a medal.

Three of the athletes have qualified for London 2012 too so it seems fair, like a Michael Apted documentary, to continue to follow their progress this year.  It'll give me something to focus on anyway.  The real surprise is Abi's return.  Last time I checked, back in 2008, she looked close to retirement.

James Goddard Swimming
In Athens: 4th place, men's 200m backstroke
In Beijing: 6th, 200m individual medley
In London, he's be competing in Men's 200m Individual Medley.

Laurence Godfrey Archery
In Athens: 4th place
In Beijing: 4th place
In London in the individual and team events.

Abi Oyepitan Athletics
In Athens: 7th place, women's 200m final / 5th place, 100m semi-final
In Beijing: Didn't qualify
In London, she'll be competing in the 100m and 200m.

To show how times have changed, I'll be able to follow their progress through individual RSS feeds on the BBC's Olympics websites.

Of the athletes who aren't here:

Michelle Dillon retired in 2008 and now runs a triathlon training team.

Matt Elias retired in 2010 and took up a position in Welsh Athletics as the Development Officer for South East Wales.

Lucy Wainwright competed in the European championships in 2009 but her website hasn't been updated since.

The Sunday Seven.
Keris Stainton.

Keris is an old friend of the blog. Here she is in 2006 asking me about what I thought of Keira Knightley in 2006 and to write a strongly worded letter to Steve Coogan in 2008. She also introduced me to Gilmore Girls for which I'll be eternally grateful.  In the meantime, she's become a successful author, her first novel, Della Says: OMG! was published by Orchard Books in 2010 with her second, Jessie ♥ NYC out in 2011. Her new novel is Emma ♥ LA.

How did you become a writer?

I always wrote - as a teenager I filled notebooks with the story of my romance with George Michael (and sometimes Andrew Ridgeley, I wasn't fussy) - but for some reason it didn't occur to me to try writing a novel until I was in my late twenties. And then it took me another nine years to finish one.

What was your inspiration for Emma ♥ LA?

The Venice Beach canals! I read about them in a non-fiction book and thought they must have been drained or concreted over or something, since I'd never heard of them before. When I googled them, I was completely blown away - they're so beautiful and so unlike the image of LA I had in my head. I'd been wondering about an LA story anyway - since I'd written about New York - and discovering the canals clinched it.

What was the trickiest element to achieve?

Emma moves to LA with her mother after her parents' separation. I wanted Emma to have pulled away from her father and be struggling to forgive him, but I found it really difficult to write. I kept thinking I was leaving it open for the reader to interpret when what I was actually doing was chickening out of delving into it all. Thanks to my editor, I think I got it right in the end (I hope I did).

Of everything you've done what have you been most pleased with?

I think I was most pleased with the first draft of Emma Hearts LA, but then my editor absolutely ripped it to shreds. And I'm not sure about pleased, but I'm probably most proud of my horror appearance on The Vanessa Show. It was dreadful, but it taught me a lot and ended up being a really positive experience.

How do you choose the names for the main characters in your books?

Naming characters is a strange thing. I just have to keep trying different names until one clicks and I find that until I get the right name, the character won't quite work. I think Oscar - the main character in Emma Hearts LA - would be a very different person if he'd kept his original name (Adam).

Who’s your favourite writer?

Nora Ephron. When Harry Met Sally is my favourite film and Ephron has long been one of my idols. I still can't believe she's gone.

What stops you from feeling listless?

I don't usually feel listless - you're more likely to find me feeling restless - but if I ever do, Twitter usually sorts me out. Failing that, a big glass of wine and some old episodes of Friends will do the trick.