Newsletter: Spring 2023

April 13, 2023

The next Mangan novel (the third in the series) is to be published in Spring 2024. I’ve written 70,000 words with another 10,000 to go, so it could have just about been ready for a September 2023 launch but my publisher (Wildfire) sensibly decided to leave more time for all the things they have to do between receiving the text and publishing the book; important little things like designing the cover, editing, getting it printed, making sure it’s available in book shops as well on line. As yet it’s untitled. I know what I want the title to be but have long accepted that this is one of those issues where the publisher knows best. ‘The Late Train to Gipsy Hill’ would have been ‘Mascara’ had the people at Wildfire not pointed out the danger of the public thinking it was a make-up catalogue. I then tried to foist ‘Bandits and Ballerinas’ on them, which was received with polite amusement. This time I’ll wait and see what they come up with.
It was much simpler with the memoirs which were all published under the title of Beatles songs. Whilst song lyrics are copyrighted, titles aren’t.  ‘This Boy’ was also published in May rather than September. That was ten years ago and I write elsewhere on this site about the book on it’s tenth anniversary. It’s basically the story of two incredible women who happened to be my mother and my sister. The dedication on the inside cover is to my sister Linda “who kept me safe”. I wasn’t the only child to benefit from her protective instincts. Linda went on to foster a number of children in the years before she emigrated to Australia (where she then ran the Magic Moon Nursery in Perth for twenty five years). Two of her foster children, brothers Ricky and Murray were the subject of an episode of ‘Long Lost Families’, the popular ITV programme that puts family members back in touch with one another. The authorities insisted on taking the brothers out of Linda’s care to put them up for adoption separately, which was standard practice in the 1970s. Just as my sister at sixteen years of age (I was thirteen) fought ferociously to keep us together after our mother died, she also tried to keep these two brothers together. She tried to adopt them but was told that with three children of her own as well as other foster children, her family was too big to allow it. The brothers were separated and lost touch with one another until the programme found Ricky living in Canada and reconnected him with Murray in England. That programme was shown last year and had huge viewing figures. Since then ‘Long Lost Families’ became aware of Linda’s involvement and her attempts to keep the brothers together. Nicky Campbell interviewed her when she was over in the UK last year and that will be shown on Thursday, 20th of April at 9pm on ITV.
During Linda’s stay last year she appeared with me on ‘Steph’s Packed Lunch’ (Channel 4, Monday to Friday). Steph McGovern has made this programme a lunchtime staple and I love being a regular on their eclectic mix of the funny and the profound. Such is it’s success that when the show returns from it’s two week Easter break on April 17th it will start at 12noon rather than 12.30, continuing as usual until 14.10. So that’s two and a half hours a week more of Steph and her guests with the only drawback being that I’m on it twice a week.
Scarborough is my favourite English coastal resort (and the closest to where I live), so I’m delighted to be going back there for the book festival (Books by the Beach, June 10th and 11th). I’m appearing on the Saturday at 7.30pm in Queen Street Church being interviewed by the erudite Gerry Foley.

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