The book that inspired a charity

Remember the theory of the 'six degrees of separation'?  Well, I met Dinah who met Bruna who took her to Bangladesh and introduced her to Ali who was running a small home-school for children with disabilities there...  The detail is in the preface to A Blonde Bengali Wife, but put simply Dinah fell in love with the country and the people in exactly the way I had done.  More so, she was totally inspired by the work Ali was doing on the island of Bhola, and came home with the plan to set up a charity to support him.  Thus was born Bhola's Children and a lifelong relationship between us and them.Still no sign of a publisher - but did it matter now?Well, some more excellent rejections ('great book but we've just taken on one about a female cyclist in Sierra Leone' or 'if only the author was famous we'd snap...
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Scotland, May 2004

Rejection followed rejection once the manuscript for A Blonde Bengali Wife was completed.  And however nice the notes were, they were still rejections.  In fact, it's fair to say that the nice ones ('we loved this but...') are far more infuriating than the pre-printed photocopied slip complete with coffee stain and addressed to Miss Hambleton/Hamill (or on one occasion Mr Roy Thompson with reference to his novel The Byronic Man... If you're out there Roy, best of luck!)I went back to Bangladesh.  When my flatmate of the time, a few weeks after my return to a job in Edinburgh, casually remembered that someone calling herself a literary agent had called in my absence and said I should phone back - who, when it was said flatmate wasn't sure, oh dear, was it important..?Dinah Wiener, a very experienced and successful literary agent in London eventually took a risk on the book.  'It's not very commercial and...
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West of Ireland, September 2002

Back at home, back at work, full of stories about Bangladesh  - a veritable 'Bangla-bore' - and with a huge album of disappointing photographs (this was before I got a digital camera and I have no eye for photography) I turned towards the diary I had been diligently keeping whilst away.  Long and boring and self-indulgent, I looked at it again and again and began to think it would make a good travel book if I ever managed to edit it.  I'd always done a lot of writing but never finished anything full-length before so this was going to be a huge challenge; the aim to show the 'other side' of Bangladesh beyond the dismal and shcoking news reports that tend to sideline it for the Western world...Fast forward to the present and yes, the reporter and photographer from the Evening News, duly interviewed me.  And simon.  And my mother.  No...
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Something to wrap the chips in...

It seems that an afternoon round the kitchen table with Juliet and a pile of newspapers as well as the inevitable Google, has paid off.  Whilst the book was sent direct from the publishers to the reviewers on the big nationals, we have been concentrating on the local papers and magazines.  The technique has been more along the lines of throwing darts at a board and aiming at reporters who prefer the heart-warming to the car-crash in the vain hope that 'the book which inspired a charity' angle will catch someones eye.We've had several responses from interested journalists and whilst I doubt - realist or pessimist? - they'll actually become a story  it will be interesting research!  Interview with the Evening News tomorrow...
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Edinburgh, November 2010

Q: Which is easier - launching a book or a baby?The jury is still out on that one!  Simon is now nearly 12 weeks old and a giant baby, a definite endorsement of on-demand breast milk even if his mother is also going to be a giant trying to eat enough to keep up with him... The book launch is in ten days time and the preparations are slowly falling (literally) into place.  This is due solely to the work of The Committee, my friends who were the slowest in thinking up excuses why they couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't be able to listen to my desperate pleas for help in setting up the event.  I couldn't offer them much in return but - being three of the best women ever (or cheap dates the lot of them) - a couple of slices of cake and a cuddle of the baby was enough!  So, Juliet (press releases),...
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