TartCity News         

March 2008

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction includes nominee:
Stella Duffy The Room of Lost Things (Virago) more info here.

Lauren's news: I've just signed a contract to write 2 sexy, rip-roaring bonkbusters for Simon and Schuster in the UK under the pseudonym of Rebecca Chance. The first book will be called DIVAS, and it's about two girls, one a spoilt heiress, one a pole-dancing kept woman, who are on a collision course as the man who represents both their meal tickets is put into a diabetic coma by his evil, scheming wife. Though they start as enemies, they have to join forces in order to take the villainess down and recoup what's rightfully theirs.... while, naturally, having a lot of hot sex with gorgeous men along the way. I've written three chapters already and can't tell you how much fun I had with them - these are the books my inner gay man was born to write, lots of passion and hair-tossing and fabulous outfits. DIVAS is going to come out in the UK next September and the next one (probably about celebrity trophy wives with prescription pill problems) will be on the shelves a year later.

January 2008


Read an excerpt
[PDF]    [Word]
Woo-hoo (or as my mother would have said 'hoo-bloody-rah') - The Room of Lost Things is finally coming out in March 2008. This book has been called Loughborough Junction, a labour of love, driven my editor and myself to distraction, the hardest thing I've ever written... and my best piece of writing to date. (IMO, obviously!) I'm immensely proud of it. I'm not quite sure why it was so damn hard to do, though I suspect having two male protagonists for the first time in my writing career might be something to do with it! And, oddly, as I was writing about the exact area in which I live (the aforementioned Loughborough Junction in South London), there was also something about being so close and trying so damn hard to get it right that meant I gave myself a very hard time on the first few drafts. Anyhow, it's done now, and I even like the cover very much too. Which is A Good Thing.

I'll be trolling round some festivals to promote it, of course, including Pitlochry for the Winter Words Festival where I'm also teaching a writing workshop, Braintree for the Essex Book Festival, The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I also have a variety of gigs for LGBT History Month in February, including hosting Hereford's Out in The Sticks event. Another Good Thing.

And for the rest of the year? Well, in 2007 I had a joyous time directing Matthew Saville's Kikia te Poa for London-resident NZ theatre company Shaky Isles and remembered how very much I like working with actors, so I wouldn't mind doing a bit more directing in 2008. Bloody Brits Press brings out Mouths of Babes in the US in April. I'm getting on with writing the historical novel I started working on last year, having a brilliant time researching (ie. making up) Roman/Byzantine lives. I've also written a play, A Guest on Other People's Ground, that will tour later this year, further culture-decimating Arts Council cuts notwithstanding. And I fully expect to write a few short stories at the very last minute, to be a lot better at updating my myspace blog than I have been at updating this page, and to enjoy drinking cocktails and eating meat at what has come to be known by me & Ms Shelley as 'Greg's Grill'. (Lauren's husband does a mean barbecue.)

What I will not be doing is walking another half marathon in New York, just seven weeks after being flat on my back in A&E with a ruptured disc. Though the walk was great, and the money raised wonderful, and I still LOVE NYC. And below are some pics to prove it (clockwise from upper left):
  1. Val McDermid, Shelley Silas, the glorious Kelly Smith, and me. And some Children's Society people. And Brooklyn Bridge.
  2. & 3   12.95 miles and still smiling. Or maybe that's a grimace on my face!
  3. The stunning 6.00am jet-lag view from our hotel room (only slightly marred by the honeymoon couple, their in-laws, and about a dozen guests in the room next door until 3.30am. Think Edith Bunker saying - over and over, for hours - "I'm so happy you're in the faaaaaamily, so happy!")
  4. my other career
And if I'm a very very lucky girl, this will be the year where no-one gets sick, no-one I love dies, and nothing (really) bad happens. Good and bad reviews are inevitable, books are hard or easy to write, money certainly comes and goes - 2007 was one of those years that assured me the people are what matters most. Which is not a bad thing at all.

Val McDermid, Shelley Silas, the glorious Kelly Smith, and me. And some Children's Society people. And Brooklyn Bridge. 12.95 miles and still smiling. Or maybe that's a grimace on my face!  12.95 miles and still smiling. Or maybe that's a grimace on my face!
my other careerThe stunning 6.00am jet-lag view from our hotel room

Read an Excerpt
[PDF]    [Word]
YA Book Central:
Kiss Me Kill Me Her First Kiss Ends In Murder

Kiss Me Kill Me is a dark and mysterious twist on the chick lit genre. Scarlett sets out to uncover the truth about what happened the night she inadvertently killed Dan McAndrew. Maybe she isn't an expert detective, but Scarlett is determined to clear her conscious and her name.

The Kiss of Death girl. That's Scarlett's nickname, courtesy of the British tabloids. Because she is a minor, the press cannot print her name, but all the girls at St. Tabby's know it was Scarlett and there is no way Scarlett can ever return to school again after what happened.

Scarlett had dreamed about kissing Dan McAndrew. It was one of her wishes for the year, along with growing boobs. Both of her wishes came true, but not at all in the way she imagined.

If only she could go back in time, Scarlett would have turned down Nadia's invitation. She would have said no when Plum's crony invited her to a posh party in her penthouse. After ditching her two best friends from gymnastics for the chance at living the posh life, maybe Scarlett deserved what was coming to her. Looking back, she cringes to think how badly she wanted to fit in with Plum's crowd, to wear the hottest fashions and lust after the hottest boys.

Her first party would be her last. After what happened to Dan, Scarlett will probably never go to a party or kiss a boy again in her life. One minute he was there right in front of her, his strong arms around her body, lips caressing hers. The next, he was dead in her arms. She didn't do anything wrong, but Plum and her crowd blamed Scarlett for Dan's death.

After the tragedy, Scarlett transfers to Wakefield Hall, a school in the country away from St. Tabby's, London, and Plum. All Scarlett wants is to put the horrific past behind her, but then she receives an anonymous note with four simple words that change everything.

"It wasn't your fault."

Lauren Henderson is such a pro at writing for a teenage audience that it's hard to believe this is her first young adult novel! She is like a magician, building suspense and creating a story so vivid it is impossible not to be caught up in Scarlett's mystery.

Kiss Me Kill Me.
Henderson, Lauren (Author)
Jan 2008. 256 p. Delacorte, hardcover, $15.99. (0385734875). Delacorte, library edition, $18.99. (0385904851).

Fans of Libba Bray's books will enjoy this contemporary British murder mystery featuring 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield, an orphaned heiress who believes that her first kiss kills her longtime crush, Dan McAndrew. Although she is not charged with Dan's death, Scarlett feels responsible, and her subsequent expulsion from her exclusive London private school doesn't help. Scarlett retreats to her grandmother's private girls' school, where she tries to put herself back together and find out who, and what, really killed Dan. Henderson knows how to work a murder mystery. Her pacing and exposition of clues are skillful, and intriguing secondary characters abound. The many Briticisms make sense in context and will not deter American readers. Scarlett is a talented gymnast, and her training episodes capture the sport's excitement and constant striving for perfection. An abrupt ending will leave readers gasping with anticipation for a sequel that will hopefully pick up the fast-paced story's loose threads.
- Debbie Carton

Kirkus Reviews (12/1/2007)
Henderson, Lauren
Stylish, sassy prose spins a whodunit that doesn't quite satisfy. Sixteen-year-old Scarlett Wakefield suffers from the usual teenage-girl angst: to be part of the popular crowd and to kiss Dan, one of the most popular boys in her class. When these wishes are granted with an invitation to a posh party, Scarlett finds herself among the glitzy girls and their upscale lifestyle and in the arms of her adored Dan. When she and Dan kiss, he suddenly, horribly dies of anaphylactic shock. Nicknamed "the Kiss of Death Girl," Scarlett is sent to live with her grandmother at Wakefield Hall. Finding an anonymous note in her desk, she discovers that she may not be to blame for Dan's death and finds herself embroiled in mystery. Reminiscent of a young Stephanie Plum, Scarlett's sharp sense of self-deprecating humor shines. While a breezy blend of mystery and mean-girl fun, Henderson's offering doesn't provide its reader enough of a resolution to be fulfilling; they may be disappointed to work their way through to find that too many threads have been left dangling in order to carry over to a sequel. (Fiction. YA)

I've started the New Year off with a work explosion -- the first Scarlett Wakefield novel, KISS ME KILL ME, came out in the US on January the 8th, and I'm currently headdownassup, as Dana Stabenow, a writer friend, says, in edits for the sequel, KISSES AND LIES, which is scheduled for a spring 2008 publication date. So far, KISS ME KILL ME has had great reviews on YA Book Central, Kirkus and Booklist (see below) and is selling very well.

I'm also working on an outline and chapters for a blockbuster novel called DIVAS -- an editor asked me to put this together last year and I've really enjoyed writing a couple of opening chapters! We'll see how that goes but it's being a lot of fun so far.

And I've been writing several articles for UK COSMO - who has just nominated me for their Writer Of The Year at the PPA Awards, which is a pretty big deal and very flattering! One of them involved going man-free for a week, and here are some pics from the various shoots. That's my sister Lisa in the bath with me, in a man-free, overnight stay at a luxury hotel in Central London -- and by the way, if you want to thoroughly pamper yourselves, I can totally recommend the Spa Boudoir suites at the Intercontinental. It doesn't come cheap, though!

Lauren takes to the pole...


Spring 2007

It's spring***! Or, with this lovely global warming that the world is so enjoying at the moment, practically summer! And here on Tart City, we're celebrating the imminent overheating on the planet by throwing open all the doors and windows, letting the sun stream in, and freshening up the site for all our visitors. Welcome to Tart City, Spring 2007 edition, whether you're a regular or a first-timer. And remember as always to post any comments, suggestions, or general greetings on ...

*** unless you're on the other side of the world, of course, in which case, Happy Autumn.

Here's what's new for Spring 2007: Spring 2007


I've been incredibly busy over the last few months - having moved to London with the husband and cats, we've been house-hunting, which is not exactly an experience guaranteed to make anyone's marriage a haven of tranquillity and ease. In fact, it seemed to consist mostly of me screaming at Greg that he wasn't doing enough, and Greg yelling at me that I was being unbearable. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much par for the course even on the best days. Ah well. As this goes to press, as it were, we have decided against the insanely expensive maisonette in our dream area, because of its insane expensiveness, coupled with the fact that though it had two fantastically gorgeous bathrooms, our surveyor pointed out that there wasn't enough water pressure actually to have a proper shower in either of them - which, if your husband has been used for years to fabulous American power showers, is a big problem. Also there was a tree trying to tear the house up from below.


So we have gone instead for the much less expensive garden flat in a much less salubrious area, calculating that this way we have a fighting chance of staying together as there will be less tension about money, whinges about expensive yet pointless showers, and nightmares about trees eating us from below. Also we will be able to afford a ping-pong table and have a garden big enough to put it in! Yay! Am flicking through the John Lewis catalogue already and staring lustfully at garden table sets. And the cats, who had never seen, let alone rolled in, grass, before we moved to London, will get to see Nature on an even larger scale. Snow completely freaked the ginger one out…

Oh yes, the writing. You're probably all more interested in that, frankly. Well, I have been polishing my Young Adult novel, Kiss Me Kill Me, for what feels like years, and finally my editor at Delacorte (in the US) has pronounced it pretty much done. So hopefully it will now sell in the UK, and round the world, and I am going to get to work on the sequel soon. It's about a 16-year old girl who kisses the boy of her dreams at a party, her first-ever kiss, only to have him drop dead at her feet. Everyone blames her, but no-one can work out what killed him. So unless she solves the mystery herself, she'll never feel safe kissing anyone again… it's a series in which the main mystery runs over a sequence of books, but parts of it get solved in each instalment to keep you temporarily satisfied, but also guessing at what will come next! That's the idea, anyway. My heroine is called Scarlett Wakefield and the series will be known as the Scarlett Wakefield Mysteries. She's a gymnast, and her best friend is a rock climber/wannabe PI, so there's a lot of action and adventure, which are a ton of fun to write. Also quite a lot of hot boys, ditto.

I'm also working on a synopsis for a thriller/blockbuster Big Novel for my UK editor at Random House. And I contributed a short story to a charity anthology which decided to put on the cover an old woman and an old man, the latter fully clothed and the former with one dangling old bosom hanging out. So I made them take my story out again. Honestly, I expected less sexism from the purveyors of a charity anthology! So that was pretty disappointing.

Vicki Hendricks  

Lauren Henderson  
Lauren Henderson
Last year was very frustrating as far as work went - I kept having to wait a long time for edits/decisions and felt I was wasting my life sitting round twiddling my thumbs and watching "Judge Judy". I'm hoping 2007 will mean a flat to settle down in, and some really challenging and cohesive writing projects. Cross your fingers for me!

Oh, and my reading with Vicki Hendricks in London went really well. Despite it pouring cats and dogs, enough locals came out to fill the room nicely, and I read a short story (My Name's Lola, and I'm Addicted To Gay Men) which turned out to be a monologue, and quite successful. Vickie was over here to promote her latest novel, Cruel Poetry, and she read a suitably Hendricks-filthy extract from it to great acclaim. The microphone rather got in the way, but Greg managed to take a couple of photos…


Ok, so that was 2006. It was all right, wasn't it? Even for those of us who didn't have three weddings …

And now - 2007. Well, so far, in terms of 'product' it looks pretty much the same. I am STILL writing The Room of Lost Things (which was called Loughborough Junction for quite some time), but can see a finish line in sight, have lots of enthusiasm from Virago, and a pub date in February 2008. This is easily the hardest, trickiest, longest and - I sincerely hope - the best thing I've ever written. Which is probably why it feels like it's taken forever. As well as the fact that it has! I know I've always gone on about re-writing and editing (ie not just spell-check!) in every writing workshop I've ever taught, but I think I've taken my own advice to heart on a grand scale here and, in the throes of the final re-write, can only hope it's all been worth it.

Meanwhile of course there have been an array of other projects big and small to create the odd distraction, including working on a (fingers crossed) tv drama series idea with the wife, organising Lauren's quiet-small-elegant-totally-sober-on-my-part (heh) hen night for her London wedding, writing a few short stories, inching ever so slowly closer to maybe with the film adaptation of State of Happiness, writing a new play for the National Youth Theatre which sold out at the Soho Theatre and made me very proud of the youth involved, working on a short verbatim piece for the National Theatre (which I'm now developing as a full length play), attending a few book festivals including a lovely one in Ravenna and, as always, the lezz-travaganza that is YLAF, and occasionally performing my solo show for various theatres and breast cancer organisations.

This year I have some yummy festivals lined up, including the first-ever Scarborough Literature Festival, with Val McDermid on 21st April; the Amsterdam Literary Festival, where I will also be performing my solo show Breaststrokes 19th & 20th May; a couple of events for Queer Up North in Manchester the following week; Harrogate Crime Writing Festival 20th - 22nd July; YLAF again on October 27th; the Gender Bender festival in Bologna at the beginning of November. Needless to say, I'd be delighted to see any Tarts at any of the above events!

And just in case that isn't enough travelling (yes, carbon footprint I know, but all the UK ones are train journeys, promise!) Shelley and I will be walking a half marathon in NYC for the Children's Society. Feel free to sponsor us here : http://www.justgiving.com/shelleystella

Next, as soon as The Room of Lost Things is well and truly finished, I'm starting on my new book - woo-hoo! - which I've already begun researching (hence a gorgeous weekend in Istanbul and one earlier this year in Rome) - my first historical novel. Scary but VERY exciting.

Finally, I'm also really looking forward to spring, summer and autumn - the garden harvest last year (astonishing for a little south London corner) gave us great red and green tomato chutneys, corn, a zillion tomatoes, bottled apples and pears, sweet cherries, some very good pear vodka, and (drum roll) apple jelly. Beautiful clear amber apple jelly. I LOVE my garden.

Past News

Spring 2006


It's been a busy winter and looks to be an even busier spring/summer for 2006.

Winter was mostly writing, getting on with the early drafts of Loughborough Junction, my new novel for Virago (due for publication 2007), feels like I've been writing it for years - in truth, a bit over 18 months, but given I was thinking about it for at least two years beforehand … well, it is years. I've also been working on the film script of State of Happiness, which has involved some very speedy, extremely busy -- and pleasant -- trips to Copenhagen, and learning ever so quickly the differences between writing books and writing films. Actually, I'm not sure the difference is that big, the thought processes feel very similar to me, the process of refining and editing even more so, and the primacy of character and story just as, if not more, intrinsic. It's just that films are so much shorter, which means ensuring every scene is only included if it really needs to be there, if it adds to the piece overall. Which has to be great training (in reverse) for book writing! So, that was *winter - one book, one film, a few stories, an essay, planting some bulbs, and waiting for them to come up. Which they're doing now.

Spring and summer are going to involve a lot more going out.
April 25th I was at the Purcell Rooms with Neil Bartlett, Lionel Shriver and Kwame Kweh-Armah, among others, to celebrate Serpent's Tail's 20th anniversary.
May starts with an evening in Worthing with Jake Arnott (handbag and Lady Bracknell optional), mid month there's almost a week in Manchester for Queer Up North and Big Gay Read events - including a tribute evening to the writer Julia Darling and another Serpent's Tail anniversary do.
At the end of May/beginning of June I'm teaching for a week in Turkey.
June is mostly free (phew) for finally finishing off the new book.
At some point in with all this lot, I'll also be writing a 50-minute stage play for the National Youth Theatre's 50th anniversary summer season at the Soho Theatre.
Late July is, as always, the annual hangover-fest that is the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival where Mark Billingham and I will no doubt, once more, drag out some utterly inappropriate accents at the behest of Simon Brett for the entertainment of the crowds. And in August I'm doing a panel at the Edinburgh Book Festival with the very lovely Denise Mina.

Meanwhile here's a few publication dates:
April 6th paperback of Parallel Lies (Virago)
April 25th The Way We Are Now (Continuum), an anthology of essays looking at the lives of lesbians and gay men in Britain right now. What's changed, what's not and what's still to do. Am delighted to have my name on the cover alongside Maggi Hambling!
November 2nd Singling Out The Couples, Virago re-issue, new cover, new publisher, same book. (Sort of -- is ever so very slightly edited/updated!)

My Little Black Dress I have a new short story in the anthology Little Black Dress (Polygon), Being The Baroness, an homage to the ladies of The Sound of Music, edited by Susie Maguire. The full story is on the Guardian extracts website, and here's a very nice pic which appeared in the April issue of Woman and Home, to publicise the anthology. (Fond as I am of that particular little black dress, I personally think the pic is made by the addition of my not-so-little red satin shoes!)

*There was also the little matter of our third (!) wedding, where Shelley and I quietly, at Lambeth Town Hall, and a few witnesses, becoming Civil Partners. Like Elton and David, we did it the week it became legal in the UK, though with slightly less press attention! Having already had our big 'proper' wedding in summer, this was not only the icing on the cake, but also the bedrock to underpin our relationship. A small and private event, that is simultaneously an enormous political step -- for which I am very grateful. And very excited to fill in my new NZ/Aotearoa passport and see that alongside the words Single/Married there is now also the option to tick the box marked Civil Union. OK, so it's not quite totally equal, but it is getting there. (My solution for the 'totally equal '-- lets all, straight and gay, have Civil Partnerships/Unions, and then those of us that want them can go off and add a religious/spiritual element to their joining. Simple, effective, AND fair!)


Lauren has been working like a maniac on her new book, a sequel to My Lurid Past… which may now be shelved (metaphorically not literally) for the moment, as her UK publishers have decided that they want to follow the success of Jane Austen's Guide To Dating with another kind of novel. So she's currently plotting out a psychological thriller set in Tuscany. Meanwhile, she's also trying to organize a move from New York back to London, with her fiancé Greg, two cats, and a ton of shoes and handbags (Lauren) and board games and DVDs (Greg). It'll be great when it happens, but the interim period is frightful… And she will be back in London to do publicity for the eagerly awaited publication of Jane Austen's Guide To Dating in paperback this June!

To see last-year's appearance of Lauren on the very popular UK daytime TV show Richard and Judy, click here to see the Quicktime Video, or here to see a Windows Media Video. (warning: both are very large file sizes!)
Here's a fun article that was in an Australian paper --
click on the thumbnails to see the whole article
(large file sizes, opens in new window)
     In search of true love Find your perfect match Quiz answers

April 2006

Fall 2005

Lauren’s new book, "Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating", is hopefully tearing up the UK book charts as we speak. After the book’s very successful publication in the US for Valentine’s Day, Lauren has been busy doing advance promotion for it in the UK, where it has recently been released. She even went so far, despite her better judgement, as to dress up in a Regency frock and pose for pictures for the Times magazine (see attached photos and article) in a New York bar with some good-looking guys, to illustrate the manifold benefits that come with practising Jane Austen’s Ten Rules to Successful Dating ... the guy standing next to her with his head cut off is her poor boyfriend, Greg. He was not supposed to be headless. He is very cross about it. He got a haircut specially -- and since the book is all about finding the man of your dreams, and that, Lauren and Gregfollowing its rules, Lauren managed to find her ideal man in the terrifying, piranha-infested dating-pool that is the island of Manhattan, it seems a bit sad that Greg did’’t have his photo in the article. So here’s a lovely one of Lauren and Greg together.

"Jane Austen’s Guide To Dating" has already been serialised in the Times, the Sunday Express, the Sunday Mail in Scotland, the Sunday Record and the Mail on Sunday. It has also been covered in a column in the Independent on Sunday (read it as a PDF here). Lauren will be appearing on TV’s "Loose Women" and doing a ton of press in the UK to promote the book, including attending the Jane Austen Society’s annual festival in Bath on the night of September 18th to do an event where she will match up various pairs of potential couples from members of the audience.

Lauren is working on her next novel, a sequel to "My Lurid Past", which will come out some time in 2006, if she finishes it in time. She also has a short story in Marilyn Jaye Lewis’s erotic anthology, "Stirring Up A Storm", published in the US by Thunder’s Mouth and available now, and a slightly less racy one, about the yoga craze in New York, called "Yoga Babe", in the new "Girls Night In II" anthology, also in the US.

Click to read
the individual pages
(large file sizes,
opens in new window)
  page 1 page 2
page 3
page 4

click here to view wedding photos Stella has had two novels out this year. (Greedy, prolific, or just ever so hard working?) In February, her second novel for Virago, “Parallel Lies”, was published, a Hollywood-crime-passion story of lies and desire, the Sunday Express calling it “a book that almost turns its own pages” and making Book of the Week in You Magazine. And prompting the (Irish) Evening Herald to say Stella is “like a lesbian Carl Hiassen, but with more depth” -- which is probably a good thing!

“Mouths of Babes” was published in July –- the fifth (and final?) of the Saz Martin series, it has -– so far –- sold better than any of Stella’s crime series to date, had by far the finest reviews, and has generally been doing really very nicely indeed. (Mark Billingham is entirely responsible for the death of a central series character in the last chapters.)

Stella has also been working on her new novel for Virago -– not likely to be published until at least 2007, the film adaptation of State of Happiness, a short theatre piece for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain which she also directed at the Soho Theatre, and later in 2005 she will be visiting an excess of autumn book festivals –- Durham, Calderdale, Cheltenham and the York LAF. She does not expect to match-make at any of them. She has however been very busy making preparations for her own wedding to her long-term partner, the playwright and author Shelley Silas, on September 24, and is thus just a little bit excited at the moment! (this just in! see wedding photos here)

September 2005

Christmas 2004 news: Lauren and Stella have contributed to an anthology edited by the lovely Shelley Silas, Stella's wife. It's called 12 Days and it had 12 stories based on the 12 Days of Christmas. Stella is A Partridge in a Pear Tree and Lauren is Nine Ladies Dancing. Other authors include Val McDermid , Sophie Kinsella, Jake Arnott, Mike Gayle and plenty of other great writers. It is the PERFECT Christmas present, a pretty little pastel-blue hardback that would look wonderful sticking out of the top of any stocking... Go order it now and give it to all your friends! Click here for pictures taken at the extremely drunken launch....

2004 News from Lauren

I've written two books this year: Exes Anonymous, a romantic comedy, published by Time Warner in the UK April 2005; and Jane Austen's Guide to Dating, a non-fiction guide to, um, dating, based on the wit and wisdom of the divine Miss A, published by Hyperion in the US on Valentines Day 2005.

I've also, with Chris Manby and Sarah Mlynowski, co-edited American Girls' Night In, an anthology of chickfic stories published in September 2004 by Red Dress Ink in the US, and contributed a short story to American Girls about Town, another chickfic anthology published by Pocket in the US. And I've done several columns for the Guardian Saturday magazine. Honestly, I've been working really hard, OK?

Upcoming stuff: I have another romantic comedy to write for Time Warner in the UK, which I am currently planning as a sequel to My Lurid Past. The movie script of Jane Austen's Guide to Dating is out with studios (yes, it is a non-fiction book so they've had to make up a story, and the fabulous Kiwi Smith, writer of Ten Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde, has optioned it, lucky me) and I am still thinking about writing a screenplay of my own if I ever get any time to do it. Then I am also planning a psychological thriller set in Tuscany -- "an English girl, an Italian man, a beautiful house" -- which is intended as a cross between Rebecca and Endless Night. Ambitious or what?

I am still in New York but I miss London and Tuscany A LOT, she said wistfully. Oh yes, and my younger sister has had a baby called Elvis. I am pressing for the next one to be called Priscilla if it's a girl. If it's a boy they are thinking about calling him Jupiter!

2004 News from Stella

I've written two books in the past eighteen months, so I've been slacking compared to Lauren, but I've also been in a show at the National Theatre, recorded a radio quiz series, written my own solo show, guested a few times with the Comedy Store Players and done an ever-so-odd (but brilliant) week's theatre workshop with acclaimed Japanese director Hideki Noda. Finally, someone to give the Japanese editions to!!

And I've been to Brescia, Milan, Frontignan, Beverley, Watford, Harrogate and Thessaloniki for book events. (See Route 66 for photos and more!) I've also written four short stories and been a judge for the CWA Short Story Dagger this year -- and I'm far too sober right now to discuss the judging process.

Upcoming: more work with Italian band Fiamma Fumana, performing Breaststrokes (my solo show) at BAC in South London from 23 November - 12 December, starting a new novel for Virago, and rejoicing in the publication of two books in 2005 -- Parallel Lies for Virago in February and Mouths of Babes for Serpent's Tail in July. And the Auckland Writers and Readers Book Festival in New Zealand in May, followed immediately by the Sydney Book Festival. In Sydney.

And yes, I have made some ads for the telly. Plus, while we're pushing progeny, I became a great-aunt for the ninth time. (I know, it's amazing, I look far too young for it to be remotely possible, etc etc. There is, however, a very ugly portrait in the attic …) None of the children in question are named after planets.

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