From Hollins to London

June 21, 2008

Back at 1.30am this morning from Hollins University down in Roanoke, where I gave a talk last night to the grad students (and some faculty members) on the MFA children’s writing course. My topic: From Both Sides of the Pond: The Greenhouse – a Transatlantic Literary Agency. 45 minutes (plus questions later) of me holding forth about my publishing and agenting life, the birth and development of Greenhouse, and my thoughts on writing, submitting, the market – and a lot more that my befuddled brain has already forgotten. Somehow the late-night 3.5 hours of driving home (thanks to the Greenhouse Husband for his endless, patient taxi service) and then not much sleep has put it right out of my head. Just let me sle-e-e-e-e-e-p.
What a beautiful and impressive college Hollins is – absolutely immaculate, surrounded by quiet hills, and surely a wonderful place to write and ponder. It was lovely to meet students and staff and have a chance to chat later – big thanks to Amanda Cockrell, the course adminstrator, who took a chance on inviting me over some months back, when the Greenhouse was in its absolute infancy. Also wonderful to meet Han Nolan (I mention her name with awe), winner of the National Book Award for DANCING ON THE EDGE, and also a course tutor. If any of you Hollins students have dropped in to my blog, ‘Hi, guys’ and wishing you great success in your studies and writing careers. Just remember, avoid the vampires – and Show Don’t Tell!

So now it’s back to finish off my final bits and pieces of packing this morning and then to the airport this afternoon for my night flight back to London. I can practically do it in my sleep now (oh, I SHALL do it in my sleep!), though the arrival in the usually cold, grey light of a Heathrow morning is always a bit disorienting. An hour to unpack and rest and then it’s straight back into the family and all the events we have planned this visit – not least my son’s university graduation (I’m still thrilled – yes, he got a First!). But some work too – meeting all my British authors, talking about manuscripts, lunching with Cornerstones literary consultancy, attending the Puffin party at the Tate Modern gallery – and of course seeing my colleagues again. It’s all good and really, I’m very fortunate to be able to live this fulfilling and always interesting transatlantic literary life.

Time to get going, time to close the suitcase. See you back in London! Have a good weekend, everyone.