Child benefits came yesterday. What a relief! The sum was split evenly between EPI and myself and came to a grand total of ISK 22 per person. That amounts to roughly 30 cents US, or 20 pence Sterling. Meanwhile, it costs ISK 45 to send a letter informing us that this mighty amount had been credited to each of our bank accounts – and we each received one.
If God Almighty works in mysterious ways, the ways of the State Treasury are way more baffling. Way more.
We were at this conference. And it was a treat, indeed. On our second day we were promised a visit from a Famous Author, which turned out to be… ta da! Fay Weldon. Oh, she was so nice! From the very moment she shuffled into the room of eager and waiting conference participants [running a bit late, had missed her train from London] she OWNED the place. And not by virtue of some amplified ‘Look At Me I’m A Great Author!’ antics – no, she shuffled in wearing an oversized coat and holding a shopping bag, head down, grinning from ear to ear, looking like your kindly great-aunt on her way home from the supermarket.
However, the moment she sat down and started talking, in low tones, very articulate, finishing all her sentences clearly and concisely, everyone was enthralled. Because she was so modest and self-effacing, and clearly did not take herself or her Major International Career too seriously. Plus she had a lot of interesting things to say. One of which was this: she makes a point of getting to know her translators, wherever they may be in the world. When she hears that she’s being translated somewhere she actually picks up the phone and calls the person, creates a rapport, lets them know that she’s open to discussing any queries they may have. Now, how cool is that? Certainly a lot more cool than one unnamed author who responded to questions by his translators with a short handwritten note: ‘This is your project now. Do what you want with it’. [Well thankyouverymuch to you too, sir!]
TRIP CLIP 2
We were at this conference and were being entertained by three media persons – don’t have their exact titles in front of me, but suffice it to say they were highly influential. One was Boyd Tonkin from the Independent, who said something that I have been mulling over ever since. It is this: fiction that is translated into English and published in the UK [which accounts for a mere 3% of all 130,000 or so titles released] tends to fit into the preconceived notions about that country in the UK. In other words [if I understand it correctly] they only want to read about stereotypes. Fiction that actually shakes up the general populace and makes them think differently about another culture tends to be rejected.
Which means that a book about the Icelanders being all weird, getting drunk out of their skulls and fornicating in doorways, pissing on shark and burying it in the ground before eating it, talking to elves and hidden people, dancing around and acting all bizarre like Björk, and so on and so forth, would get published in the UK.
[Hm. Opportunity knocks. Best go find my pen.]
AND THE WEATHER WAS…
Oooh, I’d rather not go there. Just the thought of how Damn Freezing Cold it was makes me want to take a running dive into bed and scrunch up underneath my duvet screaming GET ME A HOT WATER BOTTLE NOW! It was about the worst weather imaginable in these parts: freaking windy with sub-zero temperatures making for killer windchill and VERY UNPLEASANT running conditions. [Ah, the price we endorphin junkies pay for our fix.] Current temps are –5° Celsius. But hey, on the bright side [pun] it was light when I got up today! Around 9 am! There was the faintest glimmer of daylight in the sky! Which sends hope to even the SADdest of hearts. Ahhh.
Sunrise was at 9.58, sunset at 17.26.
So go find a pen, Alda. You’re a good writer. It’s a real little pleasure to spend 5 minutes a day with you, give the limeys a book. it doesn’t have to be a 1000 page saga. You could pull something off within a few weeks. give em what they want. Your quick outline “a book about the Icelanders being all weird, getting drunk out of their skulls and fornicating in doorways, pissing on shark and burying it in the ground before eating it, talking to elves and hidden people, dancing around and acting all bizarre ” story grabbed me!
Fay Weldon! That is cool indeed.
Cliff, thanks for your faith in me. I was being facetious, of course. I don’t think writing a story made up of cliches would be very satisfying. 🙂
Passing through via Michele’s sight and am wondering why I complain when the weather is below 72 degrees! I hope you have had a good weekend.
I think it would be more correct to say: “the publishers [or whoever makes that decision] believe that people in the UK only want to read about stereotypes” – and I hate that they assume this, just that I hate the fact that I have to go a different town to be able to see any non-anglophone non-Hollywood films.
But, you *are* all like Björk, aren’t you? 😉
Fay Weldon has the smiliest eyes and looks amazing considering she’s 70, I think! You probably know she wrote the classic ad ‘Go to work on an egg’ which in the UK, we all remember from the 60s or 70s… But her fiction is really riveting. I liked Puffball a lot.
Witho: I happen to believe that the Big Marketing Machine is hopelessly out of touch with what the public wants most of the time – and that they underestimate their intelligence and sophistication. So thank you for confirming my theory!
And, um, we’re not all like Björk. Much. 😉
Trace: Yes! Fay Weldon has very smiley eyes, indeed. And an incredibly warm presence. I had no idea she was 70 already. I don’t know the ad you’re referring to, nor have I read Puffball, but I’ve read a few of her other books. In fact, one of my favourite books about the craft of writing is her Letters to Alice. A wonderful book.