Tag Archives: Samantha van Leer

Losing yourself in a book

Reviewing Between the Lines a while ago, I was thinking some more about this fantasy idea of getting lost inside a good book. Or a bad book, for that matter.

I mean, I obviously don’t know whether it is really possible. Maybe Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer made it up? But if it is possible, it’s interesting. And what difference would you experience if it’s War and Peace in paperback, totally un-illustrated and just hundreds and hundreds of tightly packed pages of small printed words?

Or even worse, what might happen if you only had an ebook to hand? You go and lose yourself in a story inside an electronic book. There might be pictures, and there will be words. Many or few; it all depends on what the story is.

The thing about ebooks, though, is that they usually contain lots of books. So, maybe you lose your grip on a particularly slippery word, and before you know it, you are somewhere else. Start off inside Five on a Treasure Island (do you get eBlytons?) and you’re having a jolly old time with those gold ingots. But as you descend once more into the cave, you suddenly end up in Kidnapped. Or one of the complete works of Trollope. (Someone close to me went crazy and bought the affordable, complete works of several old literary heavyweights, so it could easily happen.)

I expect untold amounts of damage could be done if you ‘read between the lines’ in an ebook. And I can’t work out if it’d be harder or easier to fall out of one of those stories. An ebook seems more sealed up, doesn’t it? With pages made of paper you stand more chance of dropping out.

And what if the internet book giant recalls you?

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Samantha van Leer and Jodi Picoult spill the beans

You’ll be surprised to find that the Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer interview is here already. (I do have a bad track record…) There are some really nice photos of the two ladies, and they admit to not always having seen eye to eye. Jodi might have started out thinking she’d be boss, but reality proved different.

Samantha van Leer

Sammy’s fondness for Liz Kessler’s books gets a mention, and Mr van Leer got a brief grilling, to see if there was anything he could add to the writing partnership between the ladies of the house. He could.

I thought that Sammy might have expected only bad things about writing, with a mother who goes off to type all day long, but apparently the only thing she was aware of was how glamourous it all was. Until she tried it herself.

And if you want to read Between the Lines (and why wouldn’t you?), go carefully. There are vague spoilers in the interview. So perhaps half close your eyes?

Mothers and daughters, and it’s goodbye from mcbf 2012

Samantha van Leer and Jodi Picoult

The double mother and daughter thing was too good an opportunity to miss. And a first time is always special, and no matter how many more times you do something, the first one is the only first one you get. So when Jodi Picoult returned to Manchester on Sunday, to sign new book Between the Lines, co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer, I knew I wanted to be there, and I knew I wanted a chat with the two of them, and I knew I wanted my trusted photographer to make a better job of taking pictures than I have managed in the last two meetings with Jodi.

Samantha van Leer

It all came true, including my weird dream from a few weeks back. (So don’t tell me I’m not a witch.) Basically there were no people waiting at the Arndale. In my dream it had to do with being Good Friday, but in real life the queue had to stand inside WHS, instead of outside. So the fans were all there. Phew. (And I know it’s not Easter.)

Jodi Picoult

Glad to see the fans were as keen as ever, and happy to lay their hands on this great new fairytale-meets-real-life novel. Mum Jodi might have helped write it, but the idea was all Sammy’s. We watched as each fan (and there were a good number of men) sat down next to Jodi and Sammy for a photo and brief chat. Couldn’t help noticing Sammy is lefthanded like her mum, and no doubt she will soon be the second fastest signer in the west.

There was a cute baby, as always.

Jodi Picoult and baby

And then it was my turn. Jodi almost lied, saying it was nice to see me again. (It was obviously nice. It’s the again I don’t believe she remembers.) And at least I got my interview in before the BBC this time. If you’re up early, try Monday’s breakfast show for their version.

Sammy and Jodi had a tea engagement with another mother and daughter team, who had won a meeting with the two writers in a competition. (See, it is a marvellous idea.)

Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson at the Royal Exchange

Our own luck held, and we finished in good time for the mcbf finale, which didn’t come a moment too soon. Any later and James would have expired. As it was, all major players were still upright when Carol Ann Duffy and her best friend John Sampson told the sad tale of The Princess’ Blankets. It was my third time, but it’s still good. And this time I was sitting in a great seat upstairs at the Royal Exchange, while my photographer had the time of her life, clambering all over the central space capsule.

John Sampson

Carol Ann issued orders not to tell her how the tennis was going. John played his unusual instruments and pretended to be Mozart again. We in the audience got to do our shouting, and this time I was Picasso. After the poor Princess had warmed up, Carol Ann read us a new book called The Gift.

Carol Ann Duffy

And finally, James and Kaye could stand in the limelight and declare the last eleven days over, and John provided a classy trumpet solo to mark the moment. It has been really good. Rest a while now, and then get on with planning 2014! You know you want to.

Kaye Tew and James Draper

We’ll be back.

Between the Lines

How about a fantastic new fairy tale written by bestselling adult author with her teenage daughter? If you have an open mind you will think this is great and a wonderful achievement, and you’ll want to read it, and when you do, you’ll find a lovely multi-dimensional fairy tale about a handsome prince and an ‘ordinary’ girl, where neither the route taken nor the goal reached at the end is what you thought it would be.

We are talking about Jodi Picoult, who writes a novel every year, and does a lot of research for every one. She also has several children, and I think a husband who folds the laundry, or some such thing. That must be why she felt she could squeeze in writing a book with her daughter Samantha ‘while she had nothing better to do.’ The idea for the plot was Samantha’s, and it took them a couple of years to write Between the Lines.

Basically we have a (wise but cowardly) prince in a fairy tale, and as you know, when a book isn’t being read, the characters in it have their own lives and can do what they like, rallying to their positions when a reader opens the book. And this prince (Oliver) wants to get out of his book, and when he finally discovers he can talk to (and be heard by) a teenage girl (Delilah), they fall in love and then they try to come up with a way for Oliver to get out.

Told on three levels, the fairy tale, Oliver’s ordinary life and Delilah’s life, we meet the characters from the fairy tale both as the characters they are supposed to be, as well as who they are in their spare time.

And I just love Socks, the prince’s faithful horse!

Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer, Between the Lines

At one point I did wonder if I should side with Delilah’s mother who thinks her daughter has become unhinged, talking to a children’s book. No one else seems to hear Oliver, although it doesn’t help that he clams up when others are near.

You wonder how on earth this can be resolved, and I very much doubt that anyone can guess correctly. It’s different, and it’s a great deal of fun.

Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer, Between the Lines

Illustrated throughout with lovely pictures by Yvonne Gilbert and Scott M Fischer. Just think, if the pictures weren’t there, Oliver and Delilah wouldn’t be able to meet, or fall in love.