A Trip Down Memory Lane

May 8, 2012

Celebrity Exposed: the Photography of Richard Young is a very entertaining documentary about Richard Young, the celebrity photographer.

 Produced by John Osborne and fabulously directed by Grammy Award winner Don Letts (both men are directors of Brassneck TV production company), the first part of the four part documentary goes out on Sky Arts 1 HD at 8pm on 8th May.

 I especially loved the documentary even though I couldn't bear to see myself reminisce in it (I saw a preview at the Soho Hotel last week), as Richard and I used to work together on Ritz Newspaper during the late Seventies and early Eighties covering London's crazy social scene.

 When I started out as a journalist, working as a gossip columnist for Ritz I used to take pictures of my victims with my little instamatic (this was before the age of digital), but the published pics all came out blurred.

I found it a bit of an encumbrance trying to delve into the human psyche and snap at the same time. And as I was pretending not to be a journalist but a genuine friend of the people whose brains I was surreptitiously picking, it looked a bit suspicious - me continuously flashing my camera in their gobs. An unobtrusive David Bailey I was not!

 One evening, I wasn't minding my own business in the middle of a nightclub opening (Wedgies in the Kings Road) when an exuberant man with long black hair and dressed in black leather banged me on the shoulder. 'Hi, I'm Richard Young, your new photographer,' he said cheerily.

He went on to explain that Ritz Newspaper had just hired him to be my personal photographer, which suited me fine.

 'Photograph that lump of lard over there,' I ordered at full volume, pointing him in the direction of an obese lord.

Richard did as he was told without asking any questions. Richard Young was no virgin when it came to the world of 'photo journalism' however. He had recently managed to successfully infiltrate Liz and Richard Burton's birthday bash at the Dorchester, taking a paparazzo shot of them, so he knew exactly what he was doing. He manipulated his camera like it was a machine gun, relentlessly sniping fire. Rat-a-tat-snap!

 At the beginning of our partnership, Richard didn't know who anyone was, but he quickly learned Who Was Who, i.e. which person was worth photographing.

Once, when I was at a dinner in Karl Lagerfeld's honour at Mr Chow, I was seated at the fashion designer's table with a group of women journalists, who spent their whole evening, wearily having to tell their photographers whom not to photograph.

I didn't have to exert myself one little bit and concentrated on my fried seaweed, as Richard already knew 'everyone', and automatically knew whom to snap without my having to tell him.

'You are fortunate having a photographer whom you don't have to tell what to do,' the fashion editor of Women's Wear Daily confided in me.

'Can I borrow him?' the dame from The Daily Mail asked.

 It was all very well that Richard was independent, but he became too independent, for soon Richard was no longer taking exclusives for 'Ritz', and like all good celebrity photographers was making a fortune globally syndicating his photographs of the rich and famous at the functions I took him too.

Richard and I worked together harmoniously for years, but I knew we had to finally part company when people at parties started to rush up to speak to him rather than speak to me first. He was no longer my personal photographer, but after having worked with me, was the only civilised paparazzo in London who was allowed to take photographs inside, rather than hang outside for celebrities in the cold.

Posted by frances on May 8 2012

Frantic Is A Sell Out

December 21, 2011

Frantic, my novel about the excesses of the early Seventies has just sold out for the fourth time at Celia Birtwell's shop. I've been told David Hockney was fighting over the last copy. I wonder if he'll recognise himself in the book?!

Posted by frances on December 21 2011

Celia Birtwell Stocks Frantic

October 21, 2010

I was incredibly lucky that Celia Birtwell, who did the unique cover for Wuthering Heights, also designed the distinctive looking book cover for my 70s novel Frantic, which was reissued in April.

I'm even luckier now because Celia's shop (at 71 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5PL) is stocking the book, as well as on its new Celia Birtwell website. It's not what you know, but who you know!

Posted by frances on October 21 2010

A new Book Co-Op

April 27, 2010

I attended the launch of the The Writers' Guild of Great Britain's book co-op launch today. Although it's intended to be independent of the Guild, members of the Co-op must first be Guild members.

The founding directors of the Guild's Book Committee were all out in force, namely: the lawyer Robert Taylor, who is Chair of the Guild's Book Committee, the crime writer Robert Adams, proprietor of Bitterne Books, the Guild's General Secretary, Bernie Corbett and the writer Nicholas Yapp: his recently published book, The Write Stuff: A History of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain 1959-2009 was selling like hotcakes to the assembled loyal writers.

The panel said the book co-op's basic aim is to 'help promote members' self-published books, sharing experise and resources, providing links with specialists such as printers and designers, developing a Guild 'imprint' to publish members' work, helping members to publish and sell e-books.' All very useful, especially if one is unable to get one's masterpeice traditionally published.

In other words, the writers will help each other. During the lunch afterwards, this co-op philosophy already seemed to be blossoming. I hooked up with an ArtZone Co-operative representative, who promptly offered to give me book designing lessons; and also the animator and writer Stan Hayward, the creator of Henry's Cat, who volunteered to show me how to to upload books onto the net, as well as advising me on how to have control over a book's layout as a whole. In exchange, I offered to give him on line book promotional tips. I know who got the better barter.

As long as the Guild's new Book Co-op doesn't go the same aborted route as the late lamented Citron co-op (which was supported by writers like Fay Weldon and Martin Amis), this new project should be a necessity for professional writers in today's tech publishing world.

Posted by frances on April 27 2010

Was It Worth It?

March 4, 2010

Willing To Die For It, the biography I wrote last year on Dr Sammy Lee, the maverick scientist who was an early IVF pioneer and is now interested in stem cell therapy and human cloning is just out. (It's currently directly available from its publishers Murray Print, Amazon and in book shops).

All I knew about the world of IVF before starting to write the book were girlfriends' horrific stories of trying to have an IVF baby. But I soon learned all about it while working with Sammy, who's a charismatic and entertaining raconteur. The downside of my doing the book was because I wrote it in four months only, the job was mainly responsible for my now having to wear a pair of medieval looking wrist supports while I key tap.

The book's title Willing To Die For It was inspired by the fact that Sammy was so focussed on his IVF work, he didn't look after his health resulting in him a having a devastating heart attack. And sometimes, I think the book should have been titled "Was It Worth it?" while I sporadically press a hot water bottle against my aching RSI afflicted thumbs.

It was definitely worth being crippled due to knocking out Sammy Lee's biography without typing breaks, as I found him enthralling. He left the world of Academia at the UCL at the onset of his working life in order to become a clinical embryologist at the Humana Wellington hospital, a short period after Steptoe and Edwards produced the world's first IVF baby Louise Brown. What's interesting is that although they offered IVF to the nation in the late Seventies, the NHS didn't want it. So, it was fascinating to hear Lee's modest account of his successful crusade for the NHS to accept it.

I was gripped while Lee reminisced about his extraordinary career during our day long interview sessions. And, it's comforting I shall know who to turn to if I crave to have a baby when I'm a septuagenarian. Who knows? By then, human cloning might be legal and if stem cell therapy becomes more advanced, I might be able to grow new thumbs!

Posted by frances on March 4, 2010

Willing To Die For It

January 5, 2010

I got RSI in my thumbs last year after I wrote Willing to Die For It in a few months - a book (out in February) on the scientist Dr Sammy Lee, an early IVF pioneer.

I thought I might have damaged my hands for good, but luckily I have Sat Raimondo in my life. He is a versatile healer, who besides doing Reiki also gives invigorating Indian head massages.

He came to my rescue over the weekend when he gave me a therapeutic hand massage, which has enabled me to key tap without pain again. He also advised me not to write for long stretches at a time but to take breaks, which is sensible advice - difficult to act on when one is embroiled in a tight deadline though. However, it's good to know that I can always run to Sat Raimondo when I get into trouble again.

I never had trouble with my hands when I used to work on a typewriter. I'm almost tempted to try and find an old IBM golfball in an antique shop to write prose on, and to use my laptop for surfing/researching, blogging, Skyping and e-mailing etcetera!

Posted by frances on January 5, 2010

Illegal Promotional Tips

December 6, 2009

The Writers' Guild Books Co-op has just been set up by members of the Writers' Guild of Gt Britain in order to mainly help authors promote their books on line. A good tip is to start linking up with as many authors' blogs as possible, as well as leaving self-promotional styled Comments.

I linked up with the wildly funny Madame Arcati blog (her alter ego is the journalist and writer Victor Olliver), which provides my most addictive form of procrastination in cyberspace. And I am delighted to see a promotional Amazon link for my first novel Frantic has just been installed on Arcati's sidebar during this 'festive' book season. How did I do it? I think what helped was I added a Comment under Mick Farren's byline with his authentic positive quote about Frantic.

I confessed to Mick I had impersonated him immediately afterwards, promising him as an act of contrition I would review his well-writen vampire themed novel DarkLost, which is so riveting and chiling, it makes the badly written Twilight books pale into bloodless insignificance.

Posted by frances on December 6, 2009

Forget Robert McKee

November 12, 2009

My new writing Guru Mick Farren (23 novels to date), who's giving me tips to beat procrastination once taught a class in fantasy writing at UCLA.

'I initially really enjoyed it, especially as it quickly degenerated into Mick's weekly salon. Sadly I gave it up after three semesters since I was getting none of my own work done. Academia is the ultimate and most comfortable refuge of the procrastinator. On the matter of motivating the procrastinating novelist, I have found that regular beatings can sometimes work. The danger is that the novelist find the chastisement far too enjoyable and continues to write nothing,' he quips.

It took him five months to complete his magnificently barmy 454 pager Jim Morrison's Adventures In The After Life, the only novel of his I've read so far. How did he do it?

'I tend to set myself these brutally Stalinist work quotas. They're the only way to overcome procrastination at which I'm something of an expert. It's hard, and the only way I survive such a regime is to go out and get very drunk at regular intervals. I seemed to work, although I will admit I was three parts crazy when I finished the book (although whether I was exactly sane when I started is questionable).'

Posted by frances on November 12, 2009

Thames & Hudson Relaunches the Seventies

November 12, 2009

Went to the most crowded book launch I've been to in my life at Fran Findlater's art filled private Georgian town house at 22 Portsea Place. Although Thames & Hudson published 70s Style and Design, the book's co-authors: the journalist Dominic Lutyens and writer and stylist Kirsty Hislop threw the over subscribed bash. (Thames & Hudson reputedly don't pay their authors a fortune, so obviously aren't in the habit of forking out for their authors' launches). The well researched historical book is crammed with 70s 'movers and shakers', all of whom were squashed together like sardenes at the crowded party (at one point, I was sandwiched between 70s luminaries Lynne Franks, Peter Golding and Peter York in the middle of the stairs). No food but a gallon of green alcoholic drink which inspired the masses to buy the displayed coffee table sized book.

Posted by frances on November 12, 2009

Traditionally Published Authors Shouldn't Be Discriminated Against!

October 19, 2009

I see that the Writers' Guild of Gt Britain will be starting a new Books Co-operative on Wednesday, December 2nd which will help authors promote their books. This is brilliant news for writers who want to know how to self-promote themselves on line. However, this new project seem to be concentrating solely on self-published authors. As even conglomerate publishing companies now encourage their authors to promote their own books on the net, perhaps the new Writers' Guild book co-op should open their doors to all authors, and not specifically those who have published POD books.

Posted by frances on October 19, 2009

Facebook Addiction

Ausut 26, 2009

I've just quit Facebook after being on the site for two weeks. (The last time I joined, I was on it for half an hour). A scriptwriter friend prophesised I would be back. I hope not! I pray I've got enough discipline not to re-activate my account. Although I had quickly collected a diverse group of Friends, most of whom I haven't seen for centuries, I found that Social Networking is a complete waste of time. The first thought that entered my head when I woke up in the morning was 'Facebook', which is not conducive to writing. Also, I've got more serious things to think about! "I Was Willing to Die For It", my book on Dr Sammy Lee is coming out this autumn, and Dr Lee has asked me to attend the IVF conference titled Older Mothers which he is organising. A lot of the speakers who feature in the book will be attending.

Posted by frances on August 26, 2009

Reprobate Writers' Group

August 13, 2009

I've finally sucumbed and joined Facebook, although according to my tech aficionados, the fad is on the wane. Unfortunately, the site isn't agreeing with me as I'm finding it too addictive. I.e. the first thing I do when I wake up is look at my Facebook page instead of writing in my dressing gown all day. I'm tempted to quit 'cold turkey', but the only thing that keeps me currently connected is, I have inadvertently become involved with some kind of cyberspace literary club. It involves a group of diverse writer Buddies (or as a friend puts it, 'the biggest reprobates on Facebook').

Sam Cutler, notorious for his role of hiring Hells Angels at the Rolling Stones Altamont concert has just sent me his book to review: You Can't Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates, which will be re-published in America and the U.K. next spring. Also, the prolific author Mick Farren is going to send me his recommended novel, Jim Morrison's Adventures In The After Life. He has already read my first book, Frantic, which he professes to enjoy.

"Great work, gal. You're a fucking good writer. You have a few bad habits, but they could be beaten out of you. I'm really impressed and want more,' he critiques.

Now, a new Facebook pal: Jaspre Bark, a prolific comic scriptwriter/author, who toils under the pseudoname, "Jasper Bark" has promised to send me his new effort - Tomes of the Dead: Way of the Barefoot Zombie in return for Crushed, my Young Adult novel!

Posted by frances on August 13, 2009

Sun of gOd Blogs

July 5, 2009

The Writers' Guild of Gt Britain's 'Goes Digital talk' in April 2007 came in very handy when I went round to Gregory Sam's house for a blogging session. Greg, inventor of the 'VegeBurger,' introduced Macrobiotic food to this country when he and his brother Craig opened their Sixties restaurant Seed, before starting Ceres grain store in the Portobello Road; followed by their innovative company Harmony Foods in 1970, which evolved into Whole Earth Foods. Greg was also closely involved with Harmony Magazine and Seed, the Journal of Organic Living.

After Gregory left the food business at the tail end of the Nineties, he opened a (now deceased) shop called 'Strange Attractions' in London, the only shop in the world dedicated to chaos theory, which led him to produce and license 'fractal images worldwide on everything from posters to book covers to fashion'. His interest in chaos theory inspired him to write his first book Uncommon Sense, and he has been writing ever since.

His interesting and thought provoking new book Sun of gOd, which took him seven years to write has recently been published, and like all savvy authors, is now in the process of heavily promoting it and his Blog on the net (his book is already high up on the Amazon sites). During our lengthy session, I gave him some of my blogging tips and in return, he gave me some ingenious on line promotional ideas including showing me his nifty promotional Sun of gOd video (Paul McCartney's new tune, 'Sun is Shining' is heard all the way through it) all very handy for when my next novel comes out.

Posted by frances on June 4, 2009

There's Still Life In My Books

June 24, 2009

Art on the Underground has just sent me a copy of Piccadillyland, a book commissioned by them as part of Thin Cities, a series of new artworks celebrating 100 years of the Piccadilly line.

The book was the brainchild of Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, two artists based in Manchester. Extracts from novels featuring London tube stations are in the book, and I see passages from my novels Crushed and Frantic have been included, because I mentioned various Piccadilly tube stations in my prose.

I wasn't the only author to have done so, as I see extracts from novels by a diverse range of authors like Nick Hornby, George Orwell and Agatha Christie have also been included.

The book is an ingenious idea though. At first glance, Piccadillyland appears to be a 'contemporary' novel, but on closer reading, according to Sally Shaw's (Art on the Underground's curator) background notes in the book, the content 'reveals itself as carefully woven configuration of quotes drawn from over 100 contemporary works of fiction that refers to Piccadilly line Underground stations.'

Piccadillyland's launch party consisted of the book being given away to tube customers from stations at the three ends of the Piccadilly line - Heathrow Terminal 1,2,3, Cockfosters and Uxbridge. Also, copies of all the original novels were on display at the same stations.

I did notice that more copies of Crushed and Frantic have been sold on American Amazon recently!

Posted by frances on June 4, 2009

I Was Willing To Die For It

June 4, 2009

It's official! I can now reveal the illustrious subject of my work-in-progress ghost writing job. It is the scientist Dr Sammy Lee, who was an early pioneer in IVF and is interested in stem cell therapy and human cloning. Not in my wildest dreams, did I ever envisage writing a 'biography' (it's no longer a ghost written book) titled 'I Was Willing to Die For It' on such a fascinating and topical subject. Incidentally, Sammy Lee gave Rebecca Frayn, the daughter of the playwright Michael Frayn an IVF baby, which inspired her to write the novel One Life. She even based a character called 'Anthony Ling' on Lee in her novel.

Posted by frances on June 4, 2009

Jeff Dexter Reads My Stuff

June 1, 2009

Jeff Dexter, the legendary disc jockey (he was also the MC and co-ran the Implosion Events at the Roundhouse during the late Sixties, as well as managing bands like America) is the second friend who has devoured a copy of Frantic, my early Seventies novel recently. I was a bit nervous when he told me he had bought a copy, as I had 'loosely' based one of the characters in the book about him. Even though he immediately recognised himself (and I thought I had disguised the characters so well!), he raved about the book and has been kindly acting as my unofficial sales rep. He even informed his numerous writer friends, who had simultaneously sent him their books about the Sixties and Seventies to read, that he was reading mine first!

Posted by frances on June 1, 2009

May 13, 2009

A Book Sale On CyberSpace

A middle-aged friend has just read Frantic, my first novel about the early Seventies on the lavatory in one sitting. He then Skyped a friend in New York and read out the first chapter to him. His friend promptly ordered the book from Amazon. Fortunately for me, the ALCS track down my royalties!

Posted by frances on May 13, 2009

May 8, 2009

On Line Stringers

The intricate Art of blogging is accelerating rapidly, which could mean eventual doom for the world of print as we now know it. Newspaper stringers are now moonlighting as on line stringers for blogs with heavy traffic. They don't get paid for feeding successful blogs with gossip, so I can only presume they're doing it to promote some kind of identity for themselves on the web. Madame Arcati is one of the (chosen) few blogs I now follow regularly (another one is the Writers' Guild of Gt Britain). And I see an anonymous character that hides behind the name of 'Veritas' regularly leaves Comments on Madame's hypnotic blog. ('Veritas' also contributes to the Jonathan King site). At first, I was intrigued as he blatantly name-drops about prominent cafe society characters he makes out he was best friends with during the Late Seventies and Early Eighties, when he was living in a London squat. (He now lives in Sydney). But when I read Madame Arcati's outrageous interview with this 'Veritas' character, and saw his disguised photo, I very vaguely remembered a twilight creature who used to hang out in the Embassy Club with like-minded peripheral characters on the London scene, known to feed stories to the Nationals. I wouldn't be surprised if these stories were fabricated, for he declares on Madame Arcati's blog, he once broke a 'lovely piece of Art Deco' in my kitchen. I know this is blatantly untrue, because a) I didn't know him well enough to invite him to my kitchen and b) I never collected Art Deco. This proves that he must be a fantasist, and that anyone can potentially get away with blatant libel on the Internet. I was also tempted to become one of Madame Arcati's followers on Twitter (my film director friend David Blyth is on it), one of the most brilliant self-promotional tools in this century, but sadly I knew if I succumbed, I wouldn't get any writing done and would also be doomed to a life of voice recognition software!

Posted by frances on May 8, 2009

May 4, 2009

Madame Arcati

The most interesting person I met at Andrew Logan's barmy Alternative Miss World contest (in the VIP bar at the Roundhouse) last weekend was one of the most successful bloggers on the net. He's a man, who scribbles the highly addictive and wonderfully bitchy Madame Arcati column. Time Out once declared his satiric blog was the website of the week. And his regular heavyweight readers include Dunan Fallowell, Julie Burchill, Will Self, and Ruby Wax. Incidentally, Ruby co-hosted the Alternative Miss World bash with Andrew for free. In my opinion, she was totally unfunny, so it's lucky for me she is no longer a TV comedian, and is currently into 'psycho-babble'.

Posted by frances on May 4, 2009

April 22, 2009

Tools Maketh Man

I have done so much key tapping recently, relentlessly transcribing the tapes from my interview sessions re: the ghost written autobiography job, that I was paranoid my thumbs were going to pop out of their sockets for good. My late beloved typing chair, which I bought for a bargain during the Gulf War collapsed in two about a month ago. Since then, I have been working, perched on the edge of a non office chair with an un-adjustable wonky seat, which I partly blame on my crippled hands. Yesterday, not only did I invest a fortune in a new ergonomic typing chair, but also bought an ergonomic Jellyfish computer stand for my laptop. It's a neck saver. All I need now is an (ergonomic) desk of the correct height.

Posted by frances on April 22, 2009

March 20, 2009

Tech Progress

I've got a day job! I've been asked to ghostwrite somebody's autobiography. I had my first interview session with 'my subject' on Wednesday, then spent the following eighteen hours solidly transcribing the tapes. I used to use shorthand when I did interviews until I was given an Olympus Pearlcorder S925 decades ago. It was proabably the worst thing that ever happened to me, as in my opinion, transcribing tapes has got to be the worst job in the world.

My analogue recorder is now on its last legs and the sound isn't crystal clear, so when a journalist friend told me the necessary micro casettes were now obsolete, I ordered a new digital voice recorder on line. When it finally arrived, and I excitedly tested it out, I discovered the sound was virtually mute even though I had the machine on at top stereophonic volume. Admittedly, my hearing in my right ear hasn't quite recovered since I almost blew it out at the loud music gig a few weeks ago, but I couldn't hear much in my left ear when playing back the test file (and no, I'm not going deaf). I had to send the digital voice recorder back for a refund. Fortunately, I have now managed to track down some micro casettes for the ancient Pearlcorder which I shall have to use for the ghostwriting job. I wouldn't describe the sound as top level clarity, but at least the volume is loud. I used this faithful recorder throughout my journalistic career, often putting it under the interviewees' noses on podiums at press conferences. The only time it let me down was when I interviewed Lou Adler and came home with a blank tape.

Posted by frances on March 20, 2009

March 3, 2009

Rock Blog Is Bad For My Health

I started writing a Music Blog called Frances Lynn's Fave Raves, even though I am not involved in the Music Business. I created it in order to plug my talented relatives: my musician brother-in-law - Austin de Lone, and his chanteuse daughter/my teenage niece - Caroline de Lone, who both live in Mill Valley, California. When I discovered Richard Young, my old photographer was co-managing (with the jewellery designer, Stephen Webster) an unsigned band called the Rotten Hill Gang, I dutifully went along to their gig at the purple hazed decorated Movida club, built in the vaults of the London Palladium. I'm glad I went because the top decibel band which featured guest ex-Clash vocalist and lead guitarist, Mick Jones, (now with Carbon Silicone) was stimulating and exciting. The only snag was, I almost blew out my right ear, presumably because I was standing right next to the speakers. I still can't hear in my afflicted ear and for health reasons, feared my days as a rock journalist were over before they started (!), and decided to delete the blog. But, before I made up my mind to do so, a friend pointed out that the blog would provide me with 'invaluable' in the flesh music research for future projects. Even though I don't intend to go to late night gigs every night, at least I can continue to blog about my musical relatives ad nauseam!

Posted by frances on March 3, 2009

January 27, 2009

The Making Of A Sick Puppy Short

Clive Ashenden (of Snatching Time infamy) co-wrote, co-produced and starred in Code Grey, a 'tense thriller which morphs into a surreal comedy about perception', specifically made for the Straight8 Film Competition. It's a nifty, fresh and original short with cackle-out-loud moments, with a compelling metronomic 'ticking' score by Steve Cartwright. The making of Code Grey can be viewed on this YouTube link

Posted by frances on January 27, 2009

January 7, 2009

Mill Valley Rocks

I've just had a rock 'n' roll tonic of a holiday in Mill Valley, California. I caught up with the de Lones: my sister Lesley, my nephew Richard, my niece Caroline and her father Austin de Lone.

I rarely see live music in London, so it was a treat to see Coco and Austin perform (the keyboard is his speciality) with two of his many bands (he reworks bands as well as being a composer, songwriter, producer and an all rounder musician).

On New Year's eve, we saw one of his groups, the tight Austin de Lone's Soul Blues Extravaganza perform at the beautiful Throckmorton Theatre. (The brilliant Dan Hicks, Lisa Kindred, a raunchy blues singer, the sensational (and youthful) Lorin Rowan and Caroline de Lone guested). Will Durst's Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show who opened the act were hilarious.

'Los Angeles is hell frozen over,' was one of their many wisecracks.

Also, saw well-preserved rock chick, Bonnie Raitt and my niece, Coco de Lone guest at the Mabel John show (plus her muscian son, Paul Collins) also at the Throckmorton Theatre. Caroline de Lone is only sixteen (going on seventeen), but she is a natural performer with a belting big voice. Other highlights of my action-packed holiday included a visit to George Lucas's lot in San Francisco (he lives in Mill Valley alongside all the old West Coast rock stars), and an intoxicating visit to Francis Coppola's Rubicon Winery in Napa Valley. I loved the film memorabilia upstairs which included antiquated magic lanterns.

I had a fanatabulous time, but the best factor about my trip was getting loads of fresh ideas for my current work-in-progress novel, and an idea for a screenplay. There's nothing like a holiday in an alien land to get the inspiration going!

Posted by frances on January 7, 2009

November 21, 2008

A Big Reunion

David Pirie has just told me that his Must Have book, A New Heritage of Horror (Martin Scorsese dubbed it "the best study of British horror movies"), the only non-fiction book he's written in the last two decades, is going to be reprinted in a month or so.

I used to see David every night at screenings during the late Seventies (a golden age of horror movies) when we were both film critics. (He used to review for magazines including Time Out, Sight and Sound, and the Monthly Film Bulletin). I haven't seen him since then, but luckily the New Zealand based film director, David Blyth was in London recently. Before he went up to the Halloween Gothic film festival at Stirling University (his Grampire film, strarring The Munsters' Al Lewis was showing at the festival). I told him to say hello to Pirie, who was on the panel. Thanks to Blyth, David Pirie and I have just had our big reunion.

Incidentally, David Blyth's TV flick, Our Oldest Soldier, an authentic tearjerker, was screened in France for the Ninetieth Anniversary celebrations of the Liberation of Le Quesnoy. Blyth's TV film went down so well that the Mayor of Quesnoy is going to have the film sub-titled at his own expense, before showing it to the town.

Posted by frances on November 21, 2008

October 10, 2008

Keep It In The Family

Last year, my sister Lesley de Lone introduced The Richard de Lone Special Housing Project benefit concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco when Elvis Costello performed. This year, she introduced Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner and Nick Lowe, who topped the bill.

The packed out audience went crazy when Elvis made an impromptu guest appearance, and I couldn't believe my eyes when my niece, Caroline de Lone joined him and her father, Austin de Lone (the concert's host) singing on stage. Not bad for a sixteen year old! How did she get the gig? She has (got a powerful voice and has) known Elvis since she was a baby. I can't wait to find out who will play at Richard's benefit concert next year.

Posted by frances on October 10, 2008

September 18, 2008

An Artist's Biography

The Arts Club, which has a large walled garden filled with skyscraper tall trees is a popular venue for book launches. The artist Andrew Logan hosted his champagne fuelled preview for his biography, "Andrew Logan - An Artistic Adventure" there. The book, published by Ruthin Craft Centre - The Centre for the Applied Arts and The Harley Gallery (available from Andrew's website and his Shop) chronicles/celebrates his colourful life, his work and his Alternative Miss World events. It's a colour photograph stuffed blockbuster/doorstopper of a book, which would look beautiful on any coffee table. Coinciding with Andrew's book launch, was his "Reflections 2008" exhibition, consisting of his iconoclastic wall pieces, sculptures, watercolours & jewellery (on until October 4).

The packed preview was filled with invited guests and gatecrashers buying the Art: they were also fighting to get their hands on Andrew's beautifully produced book. I refrained from 'congratulating' the artist Maggi Hambling for desecrating Aldeburgh beach with her "Scallop" sculpture, which in my opinion resembles a pile of rusty tin. Andrew was kept busy, relentlessly signing his biography for the queuing wealthy Art Tarts, besotted admirers, family and friends, who included Andrew's partner, the architect Michael Davis, Brian Eno (he has bought a lot of Andrew's sculptures over the years), Terence Pepper, the Curator of Photographs at The National Portrait Gallery, RA veteran Freddie Gore, C.Morey de Morand, Duggie Fields, Kevin Whitney, Celia Birtwell and co. At one point, Andrew stood up and threw a vat of gold glitter over all the guests (presumably to give his hands a break from signing). Very pretty but impossible to remove from one's hair and clothing and from Dover Street.

Posted by frances on September 18, 2008

September 16, 2008

Hold The Front Page

I went to a new book co-op meeting at the The Writers' Guild of Great Britain's office at lunch time. (The co-op intends to be a non-profit making limited company, but it's supported by the The Guild). Delicious food was laid on, and the meeting was chaired by crime writer Robert Adams and his deputy, Nicolas Yapp. The writers at the meeting included writer/poet Leo Aylen, Benita Cullingford (author of British Chimney Sweeps: Five Centuries of Chimney Sweeping), the prolific Bernard Bashley and James Skivington, a traditionally published writer who is now thinking of self-publishing his next book. This proves that self-publishing is no longer a dirty word!

At this stage, I'm personally not sure what the book co-op wants to achieve overall. It's early days, but one of the co-op's aims is to help book writers (traditionally published and self-published) with their marketing. A brilliant idea! When my two novels Crushed and Frantic were published in 2006, I had to heavily promote them myself on the net: a time consuming learning curve. Back then, it would have been helpful to have belonged to a virtual world for authors who work co-operatively: to be a member of a website which 'could' be called "The Writers' Guild book co-operative".

I have never been involved with a co-op before (the late Sixies/early Seventies feminist magazine, "Spare Rib" immediately springs to mind), but I must say, I thought the meeting was very interesting. At the end, an enthusiastic Leo summed it all up by writing down headline stuff like: 'Are you interested in additional distributing for books? Are you thinking of self-publishing? Are you interested in joining a writers' co-operative open only to Guild members? The first stage is to create a website with a page given to every subscribing member. The cost will depend on the number of subscribing writers.' He then stormed into see Naomi MacDonald, the Guild's Assistant General Secretary. 'Print that!' he commanded. It was just like 'Hold the Front Page!' This new book co-op is going to have another meeting quite soon. Material for a new play, perhaps?!

Posted by frances on September 16, 2008

September 15, 2008

Scriptwriter Reviews New Releases

Keith Williams used to be a prolific promo writer and video director in the Eighties. When he lived in Hollywood during that time, he worked with 'everyone' including Elton John, Tobe Hooper ("Dancing with Myself" starring Billy Idol), Ron Howard and Russell Mulcahy. Keith, who wrote the story for "Tale of the Mummy" which Russell directed, is currently writing a weekly, riveting trade film column about the new movie releases for Hollywood Today. If he didn't have a couple of scripts in development, I would advise him to get a staff job on "Variety".

Posted by frances on September 15, 2008

September 13, 2008

Mondrian's Successor

I couldn't make C.Morey de Morand's private view in the evening, so I arranged to go to her ACAVA studio in Blechynden Street during the afternoon with Ann Barr; the legendary ex-features editor of Harpers & Queen, and 'the woman who invented Sloanes'. (She was the creator/author of "The Sloane Ranger Handbook" and "The Official Sloane Ranger Diary").

Stuart Haden, a charming photographer/artist offered us a drink as soon as we walked in to view the Art. He met Colette (C.Morey de Morand) through Axis, the UK directory for all visual artists, after he discovered she was one of his thirty most favourite artists on the site. He's curating an exhibition next year at the SEI Gallery, which will feature her work. Colette had a residency in Berlin last year slaving away at her paintings, hence her new exhibiton features her prolific Berlin work. Sue Hubbard, the poet and writer who also reviews art in the Independent showed me her extremely highbrow critique of Colette's stuff: "It functions both as a modernist utopian symbol positioning her among painters such as Mondrian, Agnes Martin and Sean Scully" etc. She was recovering from a near lethal bout of tonsillitis and could only whisper. If she doesn't recover the use of her voice by the time of her book launch ("Rothko's Red And Other Stories") next month, she'll have to hire an interpreter. Just when I was leaving the shindig (here comes the guest list:), James Corcoran, Colette's husband/architect at CZWG, the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, the painters, Paula Rego, Sheila Girling, and the (arty) publisher Anthony Rudolph arrived to view and buy.

Posted by frances on September 13, 2008

August 22, 2008

The Substitute

It's August bank holiday which means it's FrightFest time, or Film4FrightFest as it's been known since Channel 4 came on board last year. The very experienced Greg Day handles the publicity for the festival and he is so good, I noticed the festival was plugged everywhere. Alan Jones, one of the festival's founders and organisers said I could attend any movie I wanted to see. As most of the films were splatter or "torture porn", I chose a film called The Substitute, a Danish science fiction horror flick, but unfortunately it was the only movie in the festival not to turn up. Instead, I watched the lacklustre substitute called King of the Hill, a Spanish film directed by Gozalo Lopez-Gallego, acquired by the Weinstein brothers. Even though the film wasn't oozing blood and gore, which the international FrightFest punters go for, the audience clapped politely at the end. Gresby Nash, the late Jean Rook's charismatic actor son, and promising fimmaker Clive Ashenden appeared to be the most normal looking horror fans in the audience. When FrightFest's venue, the Odeon West End is pulled down for development, the festival will be held at the Empire cinema which seats 1330.

Posted by frances on August 22, 2008

July 18, 2008

New Zealand Retrospective

Ian Conrich, the Director of the Centre for New Zealand Studies at Birkbeck, University of London (and Chair of the New Zealand Studies Association) has just edited (with Stuart Murray) New Zealand Filmmakers, a glossy illustrated book containing twenty in-depth studies of prominent New Zealand directors, producers, actors, and cinematographers. David Blyth, who features in the book's final chapter (after Peter Jackson's chapter) flew to London from the Montreal Fantasy Festival, which screened his movies, Bound For Pleasure and Transfigured Nights in a double bill. He came here to give a master class at the Media Studies Centre at Birkbeck. Ian Conrich interviewed David on stage, as well as showing clips from his movies.

"He deserves to be in the book," Conrich told me beforehand.

He's right, as David's first feature, Angel Mine was the first film funded by the New Zealand Interim Film Commission thirty years ago, and his movie, Death Warmed Up (1984) was New Zealand's first horror film. Angel Mine will be shown at the International Film Festival in Wrocklaw, Poland (July 17-27) which Ian Cronrich has curated. The large retrospective of New Zealand Films will be attended by New Zealand directors including Roger Donaldson, Vincent Ward as well as Blyth.

Posted by frances on July 18, 2008

July 13, 2008

De Lone At Last

Nick Frew, the precocious pop promo director, and the grandson of Peter Noble, the late show business writer (his last job was editing Screen International) catered a surprise birthday party for his mother, Kara Noble in her London house.

'I pity the poor people who live in the house next door,' Robert Frew, Nick's father and Kara's first ex-husband remarked, while the show business guests danced and boisterously sung around a fire in the garden. What did Nick give his mother for her birthday? He arranged for my niece, the talented, sixteen year old Caroline de Lone (she can be viewed performing with her father, Mill Valley based rock musician and producer, Austin de Lone on YouTube) to sing at the party. She will also be appearing with her father at the Porretta Soul Festival next week.

Kara and a lot of her guests will be attending the benefit concert for The Richard de Lone Special Housing Project on October 2nd and October 3rd at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Last year's benefit concert (featuring Elvis Costello) was a sell-out, and this year's concert already promises to do the same: it will feature a rare live appearance by the 'inimitable' Ry Cooder, in a 'once-in-a-lifetime' trio setting, "Guitar Bass Drums", with drummer Jim Keltner, and Nick Lowe on bass. Don't all rush now!

Posted by frances on July 13, 2008

July 1, 2008

Richard Young Strutts His Stuff

Richard Young was my personal photographer on Ritz Newspaper during the late Seventies and early Eighties. In Richard's words, we had a 'crazy' time going to all the London parties together. I used to write about them, and he used to photograph the victims I bitched about. We were the perfect, telepathic team: I never had to tell him who to photograph, as he instinctively knew who was worth photographing, and more important whom I would be gossiping about! At the opening party of the old Embassy club, I remember getting carried away and ordering him to photograph 'that lump of lard' on top of my voice, referring to the hovering Lord Hesketh, but other than that, I never had to tell Richard whom to snap.

Richard has now opened a gallery called the Richard Young Gallery (at 4 Holland Street, London W8 4LT. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7937 8911). The current exhibition, called 74-82 features Richard's photographs of celebrities at the parties we covered during that period. Previously unseen photographs of celebs like Sid Vicious, Liza, Halston, Bianca, the Studio 54 Crowd, Keith Richards, and the Dali Lama are just few of the subjects Richard snapped. The current show ends at the end of July and In September, there will be a new 'surprise' exhibition.

All of Richard's old photographs have been digitalised and are now in his archive.

"Treasures have been uncovered which have never been seen before," he tells me.

All the photographs are for sale in small limited editions, so if you fancy having an original Richard Young photograph of a celebrity doing un-airbrushed things on camera, go and buy.

In the future, Richard will also be exhibiting unestablished photographers, who've never had a chance to show before, which proves that he's not all ego, but has a heart.

Posted by frances on July 1, 2008




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