Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Best Review Yet

I suppose I should be flattered. I see my novel Frantic has been pirated.

On one dodgy site, I was fascinated to wade through the mainly illiterate reviews. But one pirate going under the pseudonym of Avatar has given me my best review yet: “It's disgusting and painful to read, but impossible to stop.”


Thank you Avatar, whoever you are. I wish that tablets belonging to pirate pigs are afflicted with irreversible viruses after their owners download material for free. Looking on the bright side, at least Frantic is being read. Grrrrr!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Caroline de Lone Fingerprints

It’s not often that a twenty-two year old ingenue has her debut CD produced by her dad. But my niece - singer-songwriter Caroline de Lone has. Her father Austin de Lone has just produced her first album titled Fingerprints.

Austin is a musician as well as a record producer and has been nurturing Caroline's all round musical talents since she was a baby. I know I'm the proud aunt, but Caroline has got the most gorgeous voice.

For Christmas, Caroline sent me a preview copy of Fingerprints, which I’ve been playing non-stop. I particularly love her stirring tracks Places, and Man UP which to my untrained ear are potential pop hit singles.

Caroline's band consists of a group of musical stalwarts including the veteran rockabilly guitarist Bill Kirchen, Eric McCann, Paul Revelli, Austin de Lone and nineteen year old musical prodigy Matt Jaffe, who plays Acoustic Guitar on Caroline’s CD.
Mat Jaffe

Caroline is unveiling her Fingerprints CD at the legendary Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on Wednesday February 11th. (Show starts at 8 p.m. Admission: $5). Fortunately for the over subscribed audience, Caroline is a riveting singer and performer and I can safely say she will do her CD more than justice. A star is born?!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Crushed is resurrected

I am my own Fave Rave this month. Crushed, my illustrated Young Adult novel has just been resurrected from the Out of Print graveyard. The book is now on global Amazon Kindle.

Since the book became available on line, readers in India, Germany, France, England and the USA have bought copies. Not bad for a novel, resurrected from Out of Print obscurity.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Richard de Lone's Peace Love and Twang Benefit

Study the above poster, and if you are a bluegrass, blues, Americana, country and rockabilly fanatic - start drooling!

It's a Family Affair: for the record, singer/songwriter Caroline de Lone (Richard's sister and offspring of Lesley and Austin) will be belting her guts out amongst the exalted line up of fellow musicians at the 8th Annual Richard de Lone Special Housing Project, held at the Bimbo’s 365 club, 1025 Columbus, San Francisco, California on Sunday, October 5th.

Caroline de Lone's fingerprints CD

 I do hope Caroline will be singing songs from her debut album titled Fingerprints, which will be released just before December 25th. I admit she's my niece, but there is  lot to say for Nepotism. She is an Original.

 Exalted musicians, who will be twanging away beside her include Jim Lauderdale, Bill Kirchen, the Legendary Austin de Lone, Carlene Carter, Butch Hancock, Jim Dale Gilmour, Dan Hicks and The Hicksville Express and Kindred Maxwell and de Lone. 

Caroline and Austin de Lone
Dan Hicks

The concert will be worth going to for the Silent Auction alone: a Fender Jazzmaster, owned by Elvis Costello himself, a special copy of Elvis' first Jazzmaster, made in a limited edition by Fender, autographed and authenticated, with photo. Also a case of Boz Scaggs 'fantastic' 2007 vintage; a 20x30 original Ken Friedman framed photo of Jerry Garcia and more.

 So if you fancy a musically invigorating night out call Bimbo’s 365 club at (415) 474 0365 to book .... pronto.

Carlene Carter

Friday, July 04, 2014

Pow! Wow! Comics Unmasked

Woweeee Zoweeeee! At the tail end of the twentieth century, I used to write FutureShock stories for 2000 AD magazine. The longest comic I wrote was eight pages, but I always wanted to know how to write a 100 page graphic novel.

My prayers were recently answered: As part of the British Library’s compelling Comics Unmasked exhibition, imaginatively curated by John Harris Dunning, Paul Gravett, and Adrian Edwards (ends August 19th), the library organised a four session course on how to create a Graphic novel – from Beginner/Intermediate to Advanced level.


The course leaders consisted of Ariel Kahn, the Senior Lecturer in creative writing at Roehampton University, and John Harris Dunning (John's sublime graphic novel Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers was the first graphic novel published by Walker Books).

Ariel Kahn

John Harris Dunning

Special Guests included Sarah Lightman, director of Laydeez do Comics, and Emma Hayley, MD and Publisher of SelfMadeHero, which she launched in 2007, after spotting a gap in the market for high-quality graphic novels.

As the courses were all held in the evening, the participants were given the perk Of viewing the Comics Unmasked exhibition, ‘the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states’ after opening hours, when the public weren’t admitted.

 The first course (titled: Who is in Charge? The dynamics of image and text) was in the PACCAR gallery where the exhibition is held. Ariel Kahn co-hosted the workshop with John Harris Dunning.

One of the students told me he had just graduated from Kahn’s creative writing course at Roehampton university and exclaimed he was a Brilliant teacher. I have to say Kahn was one of the most exhilarating lecturers I have ever come across.

 If all that wasn’t stimulating enough, I actually had a one to one encounter with the charming John Harris Dunning, who showed me how to write AND draw a comic script. I illustrated Crushed, my YA novel but drawing thumbnail pix is another learning curve.

During the last From Pitch to Publication course I attended, SelfMadeHero’s Emma Hayley gave an inspiring talk before making herself available for us to pitch our stuff at her. If that wasn’t fab enough, a handful of us then went into the exhibition to have another look round. The exhibition space was designed by award-winning comic book artist Dave McKean, and I really felt I was inside a living comic.

  Kissley Leonor, who covers fashion, film and design at the British Library reminded us how lucky we were, saying the exhibition is always PACKED.
 Kissley Leonor

One of the great things about attending creative courses is meeting like-minded people. The viewers going round the gallery with me included Edward Fletcher, the creator of the Meiosis webcomic, and Royal College of Art student Fionnuala Doran - the winner of Comics Unmasked Arts Thread x British Library competition.
Fionnuala Doran 

 We all stopped ogling the Comic Art for a few minutes to discuss PhotoShop. And that reminds me I might now have to go on a course on how to learn Inking and Lettering!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Victor Olliver Lifesurfs into 2015

Victor Olliver is my Fave Rave astrologer. It's just as well, as his new Astrology book, Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2015 is just out/available from Amazon.

The prolific way Victor Olliver is going, I predict I shall have to build extra bookshelves to house his new astrology books, a new one for every year.

 I've still got his previous book, Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2014 by my bedside, which I regularly consult.

But before I put away his new Lifesurfing book for 2015, I couldn't resist reading his intriguing 'Astro-X-Ray' features in the final part of the book. Pope Francis, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie are amongst them.

 If one didn't know anything about these avatars,  thanks to Victor Olliver's astute Astrological magnified intrusion,  it seems one learns everything there is to know about them and more.

 The subjects whom Victor knows personally are even more riveting. One of his X-Rays is the tabloid hack/writer Julie Burchill, whom Victor knows personally. I was enthralled, as he was able to perfectly illustrate her astrological makeup with fascinating anecdotes about her.

Julie Burchill 
I hope Ms Burchill can take it as much as she dishes it out, but reading Olliver's feature on her, I'm not sure if she will be able to.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Make space for the Buenvino cookbook on your kitchen shelves

I need another cookery book like I need a hole in my head. But after attending Jeannie and Sam Chesterton’s heaving and very glamorous book launch, I have succumbed and pre-ordered their book, the Buenvino cookbook from Amazon.

So why didn’t I buy a book at the actual launch? Because, although I arrived early at The Instituto  Cervantes in Eaton Square where the launch was held, all the hundreds of books which the publishers took sold out before I got there. At least I managed to get my hands on the ham which had arrived directly from Spain.  

Jeannie and Sam Chesterton with Tim Clinch in the middle. 

Sam Chesterton is an ancient friend, with whom I used to run around London during the Seventies. This was before he met and married his lovely wife Jeannie who is a brilliant gourmet cook.

For the past thirty years the Chestertons have run their unique Bed and Breakfast in their unique pink coloured farmhouse called Finca Buenvino on their 100 acre estate, near Seville, Andalucia, Spain.

The estate is in a protected park, with unspoiled scenery, so if one wants an idyllic holiday with beautiful views and superb food, this is the perfect place to be.

 The Chestertons grow their own certified-organic vegetables, keep their own chickens and pigs, and have apple, pear, quince and fig trees, all of which ingredients are used in the dishes, as well as local game and other seasonal produce such as mushrooms foraged from the woodland. And that's just for starters.

Jeannie also runs exciting and innovative cooking courses, explaining the Mahgrebi (North African) influences in southern Spanish recipes, many of which date from Moorish times.

All the Chestertons’ guests and friends love Finca Buenvino’s naturally produced food so much, over the years they have continually begged them to produce a cookery book and finally the couple have  done it.

Titled The Buenvino Cookbook: Recipes from our farmhouse in Spain with illustrations by Tim Clinch, this book is already a success by word of mouth alone.

The book looks gorgeous and I’m already drooling at the thought of reconstructing the unique Spanish recipes, but I shall have to wait until the official publishing date of April 15 before I can get my hands on it. Then, I shall be able to personally start cooking the Chestertons’ recipes from their wonderful farmhouse.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Terence Pepper Does Audrey Hepburn

Even though Terence Pepper (OBE) is in the middle of curating his 2015 Audrey Hepburn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, he used his precious coffee break by escorting me round the David Bailey show at the museum.

As Bailey’s show takes up the entire ground floor, Terence ideally needed to have taken a break during lunch and dinner besides his coffee slot.

 David Bailey used to be my illustrious boss alongside David Litchfield when I slaved for Ritz Newspaper in the late twentieth century.

Bailey had hung his own show, so I found it poignant he had included ancient copies of Ritz in glass cabinets.

 Incidentally, I have a library of Terence Pepper’s signed books of all his exhibitions he has curated at the National Portrait Gallery. I look forward to adding his Audrey Hepburn one to my vast collection).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Crushed Is Saved For Posterity

I'm so pleased that Sarah Wilborn's fantastic review of Crushed my Young Adult novel has now been saved for posterity in the Archives section on the USA Reader Views site.

Sarah was twelve when she reviewed the book after my novel first came out in 2007. Now, she is at university! Sadly, the novel is now out of print. On Amazon, I see a copy is now going for $291.32.

Thankfully, the novel's publisher Eiworth Publishing has put the book on Lulu. (The paperback costs far less on Lulu).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Stars Turn Out For Richard de Lone's Benefit

How intriguing: I’ve heard a wild rumour going around the San Francisco Bay Area that Star Names could be amongst the Special Guests at the 7th Annual Richard de Lone Special Housing Project Benefit.

Richard de Lone
Even if the Surprise Guests at the concert, held at Bimbo’s 365 club in San Francisco on October 6, don't include any shocks for you, the concert promises to be a WOW! Especially, if one is besotted with bluegrass, Americana and rockabilly, which will be exquisitely delivered by some of the genres’ most starry and scintillating musicians around:
Austin and Caroline de Lone
Nick LoweBoz ScaggsBuddy MillerLoudon Wainwright IIIJim Lauderdale, Bill Kirchen, the Legendary Austin de Lone and his talented daughter Caroline de Lone  ..... as well as the RDSHP Rockers.

Nick Lowe
Boz Scaggs
Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller
Loudon Wainwright III
Bill Kirchen
The Legendary Austin de Lone
Caroline de Lone 
The concert, which  will undoubtedly blast the club's roof off its rafters is guaranteed to be a heart warming rock fest for a worthy cause.

Richard de Lone was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, and the de Lone family (Austin, his wife Lesley and Caroline) hold a concert every year for their son's Special Housing Project, a non-profit organisation with the goal of building a state-of-the art residential community for children and adults with Prader-willi Syndrome, a rare and complex genetic disorder with no known cause or cure. For more information, visit the RSHIP site.

 The gig starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 and available from Bimbos 365 club's box office Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm. There will also be a limited number of ringside tables available for $450, includes special seating for four.
Robert Plant 

There will also be a Silent Auction with some really Drool to Have items including a wonderful Gibson Acoustic signed by Robert Plant, with photo; a Jimmie Vaughan Signature Model Gretsch Synchromatic; a beautiful Montage from Scaggs Vineyards; Sammy Hagar's autographed brand new cd along with his autobiography and a bottle of Beach Bar Rum; Patti Smith tour jacket, and more.

For more information, please visit Bimbo’s 365 club or call (415) 474-0365. You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


People who weren't around in the Seventies, tend to solely associate those frantic days with punk and disco. But the early part of that decade was so revolutionary, that survivors of that fast-changing period in time can only look back in retrospect, and marvel how unpredictable the new decade turned out to be.

When I started writing Frantic in 1971 I had just returned from an extended vacation in San Francisco, where I had seen a new theatre group called The Cockettes perform at the Palace Theatre in North Beach.

 I had never seen anything like them before, and during Les Ghouls, their Halloween spectacular, I was so enthusiastic  I impulsively jumped up onto the stage at the end of their show. I wasn't the first person to be so spontaneous. In the late Sixties, audiences ran onto the stage nightly after gyrating in their seats during Hair.

 The Cockettes were the original creators of Glam Rock. Performers like David Bowie were sartorially influenced by them.

If I had started to write Frantic today, I very much doubt I would have remembered intimate details of those crazy days, but as I actually started writing my novel in the early Seventies, I managed to record fresh sartorial and visual details of that extraordinary period in history.

At the time, I was too young to be allowed into bars in San Francisco, and was too naïve to realise that the entire city was in the political grip of a gay lib sexual revolution, which would eventually lead to same sex marriages over three and a half decades later. Unthinkable then.

All I was concerned about at the time was the newness of those innovative times, and the visuals of how freaks of all three sexes looked, and the beautiful interiors of their communal squats. The hippies in the previous decade hadn’t seemed so extreme in comparison.

Vintage clothes are in Vogue now, but in the early Seventies, second hand clothes were the norm. All the kids put their individual looks together from charity shops, which helped make street fashion more daring and innovative than ever before. I didn’t have to invent what my characters wore in Frantic, as I described their fabulous costumes from first hand observation, but fictionalised them.

For instance, Alice, the heroine in the book wore a 'pink basket cloche hat decorated with scarlet ostrich feather plumes, a Thirties pink satin sailor suit, spider web fishnet stockings, and a pair of skyscraper stilettos saturated with red rosettes.’

As I  started writing Frantic shortly after I returned to London, and because my San Francisco experience were still fresh in my mind, I was able to describe friends' apartments down to the last exact detail in the novel.

‘The bedroom was a mass of ostrich feathers, which hung down from the rhinestoned ceiling to diamonté covered rugs in whispering waves. All the walls were sequin thick, illuminated by psychedelic rays tinkling from flashing prisms. Glitter of a thousand hues washed over the entire apartment, sporadically lit by flickering Chinese umbrellas concealing pot-pourri light bulbs. Garish kimonos hung on every doorknob, and piles of fancy dress lay knee-deep on the floor.’

In London clothes were equally as stylish as on the West Coast, and in Frantic Alice the heroine always looked realistic, that’s because I invariably dressed her in exaggerated versions of costumes I wore in real life:

‘What with her exotic cardigan, her Mr Buddha rayon black and silver flared skirt, silver jazz shoes and freaked out hair, plus her trademark thick smear of indelible scarlet lipstick, she looked a divine mess.’

 I really did have an outfit like that, so in this instance all I did was create "Mr Buddha",  the fictitious name of Tommy Robert's Mr Freedom shop.
Tommy Roberts

But it wasn’t only the clothes which made the early Seventies unique. In the first part of Frantic, the music was still hardcore rock and roll, before the invention of glam rock, spearhedaded by bands like The New York Dolls, who incidentally were the forerunners of punk music.

I had been to several rock concerts in San Francisco, and re-invented the musicians and the music in Frantic solely from my observation.

‘She'd never heard a singer make noises like him before:  raspy, grating ear-splitting groans, similar to a stuck pig slicing on an old fashioned corrugated iron washing board. It was a refreshing departure from traditional acid rock improvisation, when infinite guitar solos were executed before vocals. Now the music and voice were One.’

Survivors from the Seventies say that Frantic seems wildly authentic, but that's because Observation, Adaptation and Fantasy were my main tools for writing my first novel. They do say that writers should write about what they know about and I am no exception.