Forbidden Planet Signing On Saturday

I probably should have blogged about this earlier but . . . well, I forgot. Better late than never though, right?

Anyway – this Saturday, from 1-2pm, I will be signing copies of Jasmyn at the Forbidden Planet store in Southampton. This is your chance to get signed copies of Jasmyn a full three weeks prior to its publication. Be the envy of all your friends etc. Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod will also be there, signing copies of their books:

I’m a little concerned to have seen this event listed in some places on the internet as a “Singles Event”. Er . . . I’m not sure why. Please note, this is not speed dating (at least, I don’t think it is). It is a book signing. You therefore do not need to bring us flowers to get us to sign books. But you can if you want (I like lillies).

So if you would like to get a signed copy of one – or all of – our masterpieces, then we would love to see you on Saturday. Depending on weather and so on, my Dinky Dane may be wandering about on the high street outside at some point (closely supervised by a family member, of course), and there will be a tin of Hot Wasabi Peas floating around the signing table (the three of us are the Princesses of Fantasy Fiction, after all), which anyone is welcome to sample.*

So there you have it: three very good reasons to come to Forbidden Planet on Saturday. You’ve got signed books, a possible sighting of a Great Dane puppy and the chance to eat a Hot Wasabi Pea** and live to tell the tale. Oh, and I’m bringing the tortoises too. They will be stumping about Forbidden Planet for the duration of the signing. Only kidding. Or am I . . . ? (No, Madam, the tortoises are not for sale. There is no barcode. Please put them down.)



*Alex Bell cannot accept liability for any projectile vomiting, choking, burning tongue, personal injury or premature death resulting from eating the Hot Wasabi Peas. Consume entirely at your own risk. Do not consume if you are fatally allergic to peas. Do not consume if you are fatally allergic to wasabi. Do not inhale the Wasabi Peas or attempt to insert into nostril. Hot Wasabi Peas are for consumption purposes only.

**Consumption of one or more peas constitutes a legally binding undertaking to purchase at least ten copies of each of our books, despite any oral representations to the contrary.

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Gareth Oliver Was Da Best

I was really disappointed that Gareth Oliver didn’t get through on Britain’s Got Talent last night. I voted for him (twice, in fact), because I thought he was a fantastically multi-talented performer. As well as being an excellent ventriloquist, he was also an exceptional impressionist, comedian, singer and puppeteer.  That’s five talents rather than only one! I mean, it’s one thing to sing. But to sing in someone else’s voice, in a different accent, in a funny way, whilst also controlling a puppet and not moving your lips . . . geez, that takes some doing! It’s even more impressive for the thing to be genuinely amusing and entertaining rather than creepy. Let’s face it, ventriloquists are usually creepy. Especially when they have those scary Chucky-like dolls, like on Smallville the other day. But Gareth Oliver isn’t creepy at all. In fact, he seems every inch the likeable – rather handsome - professional, even in losing. I might even go so far as to say that he makes ventriloquism cool! Suddenly I find myself possessed with the almost ferocious desire to learn ventriloquism. I fear it may not be as straightforward as, say, learning the violin. I suppose you probably have to have a natural knack for it. Ditto for the puppet thing. I had a Humpty Dumpty puppet when I was little (wearing a skirt, worryingly enough), which seemed to be in a permanent tangle. No matter how carefully I attempted to play with Humpty, the strings always ended up hopelessly knotted together. Messy little knots they were too – the sort that you have to slowly unpick with a needle.

So perhaps the whole ventriloquism/puppeteer thing is not for me (because I would royally suck at it), but Gareth Oliver was tremendous, and I’m quite miffed that I won’t get to see another performance from him in the final.

Writing Process, Part 1 – The Magic Cup

Not all of my blog postings are entirely serious. Sometimes, it has to be said, I speak only in jest. But, this time, I am in deadly earnest. You can therefore believe me when I say that I have a magic cup. And here it is:

 The Magic Cup - of indeterminate origin and age.

I’m not sure exactly how old it is, but it once belonged to my great-great-aunt. When she died, my Mum brought a couple of her things home and I . . . well, I appropriated the cup. I mean, look at it. It’s all big and grey and antiquey. It’s even got a bit of a crackle glaze effect on the inside. So, yes, I pinched it. And I’m not sorry, because this is a magic cup. Seriously, do you have any idea how rare those are? Every day I thank my lucky stars that I happened to stumble across this cup’s power – and that is that it can cure any writer’s block. I kid you not. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but if I’m ever getting a bit stuck with a book, all I need to do is make myself a cup of tea in the magic cup and all my plot problems are solved. It has to be tea, by the way, which is slightly inconvenient as I’m more of a coffee drinker myself. I tried it with coffee once, but it didn’t work. And I tried it with cherryade, but that didn’t work either. It has to be tea. Green, mint or ordinary – doesn’t matter so long as it is tea of some kind. Preferably (but not essentially) it should be accompanied by a brown sugar swizzle stick

The only problem is that now I live in constant fear of someone breaking the cup. In order to avoid this potential calamity, it has a shelf all to itself at the top of the cupboard. It could be the last cup in the world and I wouldn’t let anyone borrow it. No one is allowed to touch it but me. And sometimes even I’m afraid to touch it, just in case I drop it. I was carrying it down the stairs once when the dogs got under my feet and almost tripped me up. And I very almost dropped the cup! Down the stairs! My hands were shaking for, like, ten minutes afterwards.

But the catastrophe was avoided, and the cup remains safe. Hopefully it will remain all in one piece and aid me with my writing for many years to come. I really don’t fancy having to trawl car boot sales and Ebay in manic search of another magic cup. Not when, for all I know, mine is the only one that exists in the world.

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The Incredible Singing Pooch

Yes, indeed, my Great Dane puppy can sing. Here is the YouTube link to prove it:

I swear at one point she even tries to say a word. It sounds like meh-meh which, I guess, isn’t strictly speaking a real word. But it’s still pretty impressive nevertheless. I was crying with laughter when I filmed this. Given that, I think I did quite an impressive job of keeping the camera steady. Naturally Moose and I are going to enter into Britain’s Got Talent. I think Simon Cowell would really like her act.

The reason, by the way, that Moose is making those noises isn’t because she’s clinically insane, but because she was trying to coax Loki into playing with her. Loki, however, had been playing with her for a couple of hours by then, was worn out and wasn’t having any of it. The phone goes when she’s making these sounds sometimes. It’s no wonder people think I live in a madhouse. Between Moose and the Siamese it is rather like a madhouse much of the time . . . Which is fine because I don’t think I would do very well somewhere that was calm and normal.


Hot Wasabi Peas!

Hot Wasabi Peas

I know, I know – they sound disgusting. Like their tagline should be something along the lines of:

Hot Wasabi Peas – They make you sick like nothing else can!

But they are, in fact, completely delicious. They’re a Japanese snack but I first came across them in America. They’re another Sam-I-Am, actually, because my Dad found them, and when he produced them from out of his bag, I screwed my nose up like everyone else. I mean they’re crunchy, hot peas, right? That’s just plain wrong.

‘Just try one, Al,’ Dad said. ‘You might like it.’

Well, when Dad says that, I almost always do like it. So I tentatively put this shrivelled up pea in my mouth and . . . it was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Hard to believe, I know. Not only that, but they are unbelievably addictive. It’s quite impossible to eat just one pea. Quite, quite impossible. Even better, they’re very low in calories. It works out as something silly, like half a calorie per pea. I mean you could stuff your face with them from morning till night, and not get fat!

The only problem was that we brought just two pots back with us from America. Since then I’ve been trying not to eat too many of them because all my family like them, so it’s not fair to scoff the lot all by myself. Mostly this has just resulted in me lying awake at night thinking and thinking about the peas in the cupboard downstairs until, finally, I just can’t take it any more, and I sneak down there and start guzzling them like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve been feeling quite guilty about this as the peas are almost all gone now so I Googled them yesterday and, to my delight, found that you can order them online. I promptly did so.

So – now that a great big stash of Wasabi Peas are on their way, I finally feel free to confess: yes, it was me. I did it. I ate all the peas.

Hot Wasabi Peas – They Don’t Make You Sick!

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