Today is Marilyn Monroe’s birthday – she would have been eighty-seven, the same age as Queen Elizabeth II. It is now fifty-one years since Marilyn passed away, yet still she makes a difference to so many people – and in a way, I suppose I am one of them.
Little did I realise when I started researching her life (compiling my attempt at a biography along the way), that within four years, I’d be on the verge of having one of my books professionally published, but that is exactly what has happened – even though I still can’t quite believe it.
I write for fun... to unwind and to try and forget the pressures of work. As most of you who have a book (or two) of mine will know, I initially only intended to give my work to family and my closest friends – one reason being an enduring lack of confidence in my writing ability (which may have reduced slightly, but will probably always exist).
The moment when things changed came with an e-mail from Michelle Morgan. She had somehow got to hear about my Marilyn bio and very craftily asked for a “review copy” (that’s “free” to you and me!).
Her “review” was more positive and encouraging than I could ever have believed possible. A number of copies of the book were sold, a few more reviews followed and I was completely taken aback by some of the comments I received from people who have loved Marilyn for years and have forgotten more than I will ever know about her life.
I have made (albeit not met in person) so many new friends because of Marilyn Monroe and writing Something Had to Give ultimately (and undeniably) led to BearManor Media agreeing to publish Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman, my quest to track down all of Doctor Who’s female companions.
The book has been edited and is about to be put through the typesetting process – I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect of seeing the finished article, and how grateful I am to everyone who has been involved (in whatever capacity) in allowing me to realise a
Back to the birthday girl and I’m sure most of you will have a favourite Marilyn film – mine is Don’t Bother to Knock – and some will have a favourite photograph (although there are quite a few to choose from!). Mine is this 1953 shot taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt – for me it just encapsulates everything about this remarkable young woman.
Her expression seems to convey Marilyn alone with her thoughts... her dreams maybe, but there is the tiniest hint of fear in her eyes and for me, the photo perfectly displays the stark contrast between Marilyn’s beauty and vulnerability.
The picture will have probably been posed, yet looks effortlessly natural, and captivating as a result. Her outfit couldn’t be simpler, but she looks stunning – a gentle nudge to those women of today who believe that you have to be either a size zero, or artificially inflate various parts of your body to become desirable...
Maybe one or two of you will leave a comment and let me know what you think, but for now, all that is left for me to say is Happy Birthday Marilyn – and thank you xx
A couple of days ago, a copy of my Marilyn Monroe biography was
offered as part of an auction to raise funds for a plaque to commemorate Ross McNaughton, a lifelong fan of Marilyn, who lost his brave battle with leukaemia earlier this month.
All sorts of memorabilia has been donated, proof (not that it was needed) of the regard in which Ross was held. I was pleased that the book was considered worthy to be part of the auction, but amazed to see the bidding grow from $10 all the way through to the eventual winning amount of $45.
It will be a pleasure to sign the book and send it on its way to the winning bidder, Veronica, on Monday and however much the overall auction raises, I’m sure the end result will be a heartfelt tribute to a lovely man...
Also on the book front, I’ve been busy proof reading Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman before the manuscript is send to BearManor (don’t worry Maureen, it still needs your expert eye!). I’ve also got the Gateshead Thunder history to go through one last time before it can go on sale; the cover needs a bit of work too, but so far the text reads pretty well.
I was hoping to get the chance to sit outside and do some of the proof reading accompanied by blue sky, warm sun and a glass of wine, but on the basis we had snow, hail, rain and a howling wind yesterday, I’m not overly confident for this afternoon.
No matter, indoors with a Doctor Who DVD and a can of pop will do just fine...
It’s two years to the day since I wrote my first blog – I’m not entirely sure how many I’ve posted since then (feel free to count and let me know...), but I’m guessing it’s in the region of two hundred. The subjects have varied from the random to intensely personal and I’m grateful to all those of you who have read any of the articles. It’s no great surprise that the most significant reaction (in terms of comments and messages) came when I revealed my struggle with depression.
There is a selfish element to being so open in a public forum, although I wasn’t (and am not) looking for any sympathy. Writing was my release from the occasionally vice-like grip of an illness that I didn’t ask for, don’t want, but however hard I try can’t always hide from those who care.
The response was overwhelming – knowing you’re not alone is not necessarily a comfort because that means others are suffering too, but it does bring a kind of reassurance that doesn’t totally remove the black clouds, but lightens their shade just a fraction.
For the record, I’m coping reasonably well and have been for a few months. I still get anxious (very easily if the truth be told), mostly about money and security, but given there’s a major work restructure drawing ever closer, I defy anyone with a anxious tendencies not to pick up their half-full glass, tip it over, empty it and have a bloody good worry. On the better days, I’m consoled by the fact that I’m good at what I do (or at least that’s what I’m told), but my mind still finds it easy to run away with any scenario that has a bad ending.
Away from the workplace, I have carried on my writing and self-published more books: a 1994/95 diary of Gateshead FC, a book about the Coronation Street barmaids and a biography of Marie Prevost. There was also a lot of interest (relatively speaking) in my Marilyn Monroe bio, which somehow found its way into the hands of various authors, experts, fans, impersonators etc, many of whom had kind words to say about the book. I was way out of my depth here, because Michelle, Marijane, Marisa, Maureen, Jackie and Hanna et al have probably forgotten more that I will ever know about Marilyn, but their reviews and comments about the content, but also my writing style were a huge boost.
The revised edition of Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman was also published in 2011 and I’m still digesting the fact that the updated version is to be published by BearManor Media. I can’t fully describe how it feels to know that someone considers your work worthy of publication, but I’ll start with “thrilled” and “excited”. The only downside is they’re not keen on the use of parentheses or the three-dot ellipsis (bugger...).
On the home front, Elaine and I are closing in on our fifth anniversary – which I believe is signified by “wood” (I was hoping for wine... maybe it counts if it comes in a wooden case?). I don’t need a blog to tell her how much she means to me, but... I love you darling xx
We are starting a new diet on Monday... and added to my 2-3 weekly trips to the gym, I’m naively expecting to have the body of a God by the time the summer finally gets here. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to reveal (via the gift of photography) my torso on my 49th birthday. The date you need to put in your diary is 2nd June... my birthday is actually on the 3rd, but you might want to unfriend me in advance!
Anyway, that’s the second anniversary blog done and dusted. As always, any/all comments welcome and thanks again for taking the time to read the stuff what I wrote x
Elaine and I popped out last night to see The Karma Heart playing at Mink Rocks in Middlesbrough. It was the first time I’d see the band play live since December 2011, but the fifth in total, one more than Killing for Company but still some way behind The Alarm...
The Facebook advert said an 8pm start, the notice on the door said “Live Music Tonight 9pm” and the first guitar chords were eventually played shortly before ten o’clock. It was like the recent Justin Bieber concert, only in reverse... the twenty-somethings were fine, but my eyes were heavy and the Steradent was back at home, waiting impatiently to start soaking my teeth...
I’ve said it before... The Karma Heart are a very very good band. They played a lot of new (to me at least) songs last night; a couple stood out – in particular one involving hands reaching up into the sky (you’re going to have to help me with the title!!). The addition of a rhythm guitarist (and second backing vocalist) has added depth to the overall sound and Jen’s vocals are just superb...
There’s a new EP due to be released nearer the summer and if you haven’t heard any of their music before, start Googling now... actually, would you wait until you’ve finished the blog?
Yesterday was also the day I was able to reveal that I’ve been given the chance to have my Doctor Who book “Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman” published by BearManor Media –something about which I’m flattered and exciting in equal measure. I’ve got quite a lot of formatting work to do (I appear to have broken every grammatical rule in the proverbial book... the three dot ellipsis is apparently a big “no no”... oh dear...), but this is an opportunity I never imagined would be offered and I just hope that the book does justice to BearManor and the belief they are showing in me.
Back at Mink Rocks, I was telling Jen about developments; we have agreed to swap EP for book later in the year and then simply sit back and see who is first to achieve fame and fortune! In fairness, I’ve hardly got age and talent on my side, but I’m just looking forward to seeing what the future has in store... for the writer and the singer.
So here we are... Saturday morning with the prospect of a week off work to follow the weekend.
We haven’t got any major plans, but hopefully it’ll be a relaxing few days and some battery recharging. Hopefully...
I’ll be spending time finishing off my Gateshead Thunder history (volume 2) and ordering a proof copy for a final pre-publication check. The book covers the period from November 1999 to the end of the 2002 season and I hope that in amongst the memories (and the seemingly never-ending ups and downs) reflection will recognise the incredible efforts of those around whom the text is built.
More than a decade had passed since the main body of the book was completed – I guess I’ll soon find out if people want to relive a remarkable chapter in the club’s history, but for me the simple fact that Gateshead Thunder is still here bears testimony to the determination of those whose names fill the 279 pages.
Next is Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman (volume 3) complete with this brilliant new cover design courtesy of Dominic Lea, to whom I’m extremely grateful. I’ve still got the last few chapters to write, but as Doctor Who closes in on its fiftieth anniversary, now seems the opportune time to bring to an end my search for the female TARDIS companions with the final instalment of a book I’m really proud to have conceived and written.
One plus of having a break from work is not having to complete the daily 100 mile round trip to Newcastle (and back... obviously...) or the 125 mile journey to and from Leeds which I’ve done a couple times these past two weeks. The bank balance benefits, which is always good news, but I will have to play my music a lot quieter for the next few days...
That said, Monday will bring The Karma Heart to Middlesbrough and the chance to meet up with Jen and the lads and listen to some long overdue live tunes from a top quality band. But today’s short piece ends with a picture quiz... the girls below are my current rock band of choice as I speed up the A19 (within legal limits of course). There might not be a prize for giving me their name, but you can’t put a price on a sense of satisfaction so... can you name this fantastic band?
Today’s blog is a bit of a request for help... not exactly a cry for help, well not yet anyway...
I’ve written quite a few books now; the subjects have been varied (from Marilyn Monroe to Coronation Street, astronauts to rugby league), but this is specifically about my Doctor Who offering – and about me.
Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman 3 will be the third and final edition of my quest to obtain a signed photograph from all the female TARDIS companions. Running alongside the search is a history of the programme written in my own... er... personal style.
The first edition was sold to raise funds for Children in Need and I’d be more than happy for this book to have a charitable aim as well. I am probably more proud of this book than any of my others but I’m well aware that self-publishing with printer’s postal costs added to the book price is prohibitive as far as significant sales are concerned.
So I have two questions... requests...
Would anyone be willing to write a few lines about me, my writing style, or my books (honesty is preferable, but I’ll happily accept exaggeration and white lies!!!) that might convince someone to “take a chance”? If so, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and it would mean a lot if you would be prepared to spend just a few minutes to help an ageing writer...
And secondly, does anyone know a publisher, or know of anyone who knows anyone etc who knows a publisher who might at least consider taking on this project? I’ve written to several people/companies over these past months, but sadly the answers have all been variations on a theme – and that theme was “no”!
Please feel free to share the link... and thank you in anticipation of your e-mails, help or advice. I’m about three quarters of the way through the rewrite and if there’s any interest at all, the book will be finished by the middle of May.
From me and Jenna-Louise, thank you so much xx
Well here we are at the end of another topsy-turvy week – some bits have been some, others less so, but I’m off work today and looking forward to the weekend.
Just thought I’d do a sort of book update... not that sales have exactly gone through the roof since Christmas. Officially, sales are “languishing on the cellar steps”, my first submission to a publisher has been flat-batted (albeit politely) and the fame and fortune tunnel has no light in it whatsoever, but am I downhearted?
Well, actually I am, but I’m going to soldier on bravely in the hope that this old bloke will one day be discovered... in a kind of Howard Carter and Tutankhamun of way, but preferably before mummification takes place.
So this is where I am at the moment... volume two of the Gateshead Thunder history (2000-02) is complete, except for an updated afterword with former player and current head coach Kevin Neighbour which Kev and I are in the process of setting up. The club and supporters club have offered their help and a local journalist has said he would do an interview when the book is published. All sounds really positive... think I’d better do one more proof read...
I’ve updated a short book I completed three years ago, charting the early fights of Cassius Clay up to and including his defeat of Sonny Liston for the world heavy-weight title in 1964. It’s not really intended for sale, but if any of you are keen boxing fans, I might be able to get hold of a few copies for a fiver each?
And finally (well nearly), due to public demand (and my definition is “two people”),I’m seriously considering a full rewrite of Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman. Three of the female TARDIS companions have passed away since the first edition of the book was published in 2010 and recently I actually “found” the eponymous Ms Foreman when Carole Ann Ford’s signed photo arrived after nearly three years of trying.
And finally (definitely)... for all you Coronation Street followers out there – The Lynch Mob is still available – discounted – so please hurry and buy your copy. Not because the price is going to go back up... not because the book will be going out of print... but because time is getting on and I want to be able to spend the royalties while I’m still middle-aged!
Have a great weekend.
I’ve just sat and read through nearly 80,000 words charting the history of Gateshead Thunder’s rugby league club from November 1999 (when, for the uninitiated, our Super League side was... er... let’s say “uprooted” and generously given to Hull FC) through to September 2002.
The intervening months saw the formation of a brand new club (or should that read “clubs” – plural), an incredibly intense period of off-field politics and drama matched by equally tough times on the pitch.
Apart from today, I’ve probably flicked through the book once in the past decade, but even though I was reading my own words (something I knew because so many were spelt wrong), the memories of that time came flooding back, as did the emotional highs and lows (and a few more lows) that seem to have followed this fantastic club since its creation.
Buoyed by interest from both the club and the supporters’ club, I am planning on publishing this 280 page volume in the hope that others may want to relive a story that was researched and written at the time, but has never really been told. So many things have changed since 2002 – I don’t live in Gateshead anymore for one; but my love for the club has certainly stood the test of time – as have many friendships forged on the rugby league terraces.
I’m aiming to try and have the finished book ready for publication sometime in mid-March. Any comments (or even pre-orders!!!) are
always welcome but I will end this blog the same way I end the book – if there is to be a Gateshead Thunder history from 2003 onwards, somebody else will have to write it!
Some time ago, I received an e-mail from JR Southall, who’d not only enjoyed my Doctor Who book Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman, but told me that my efforts had actually provided part of the inspiration to compile a book of his own.
It was flattering to say the least that my attempt at writing and self-publishing a book had been appreciated – perhaps more so by someone I didn’t know.
Anyway, that “inspiration” has now been turned into a fan anthology entitled You and Who (published by Miwk Publishing), a collection of stories and memories from Doctor Who fans of all ages. My copy arrived today (with my article included) and a very kind name-check in the introduction... and I quote: “the tone of the prose was delightful...”
Well I couldn’t agree more!
As with that first edition of Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman, You and Who is being sold to raise funds for Children in Need – congratulations JR, I really hope it does well and for more details, please visit the publisher’s web site: www.miwkpublishing.com
And finally, for anyone from Mwik Publishing who is reading this and looking to support a certain aspiring author who is hoping his break will come in 2013... www.richardkirby.org is your link... you are welcome to contact me... mainly because it’ll stop me pestering you!
Back at the start of 2010, I began work on a Doctor Who book based around a search to obtain a signed photo from as many female TARDIS companions as I could manage to track down. The book called Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman – I thought it was quite a clever title... in many ways it was the best bit of the book!
I was happy with the first edition, but far more pleased with the second (which is still available via www.lulu.com hint hint..!). The saddest part of the reissued version was that Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith arguably the best-loved of all the Doctor’s companions, had passed away on 19th November 2011. I had received two photos from Lis and their inclusion now had a much greater and more poignant significance.
The biggest disappointment was my inability (and I tried really hard) to contact Carole Ann Ford, the eponymous Susan Foreman. The character was clearly central to the book, but my seeking... desperate or otherwise... had proved unsuccessful.
Just over twelve months on from Lis Sladen’s untimely death, two more former companions from whom I had received replies have also passed away: Caroline John (who played Liz Shaw) in June 2012 and Mary Tamm (Romana) the following month. The death of the former was a particular shock, as Caroline had not only sent two signed pictures, but had written a note asking for a copy of the book and then a lovely thank you letter (with a cheque that I hadn’t asked for but donated to charity at Caroline’s request).
At this point, I decided to have one last try at finding some of the "missing” companions by exerting some gentle pressure on a couple of agents. The response was immediate as three photos of Louise Jameson (Leela) arrived within a week, but then nothing...
Totally out of the blue, the photo at the bottom of the page arrived!!
True, I didn’t find every companion, but I found the overwhelming majority... and I might just have to add an afterword to the current book to bring the search to an official conclusion. Susan Foreman has been desperately sought... and eventually found!
All my own work... almost.