Friday 27 February 2009

Blake Publishing Buys Autobiography of Steffi McBride’s Mother.

Blake Publishing has bought the rights to the autobiography of notorious but fictional ex-vice-girl Maggie de Beer.
Maggie, who ran away from home at the age of fifteen in search of fame and fortune, was one of the original ‘Page Three Girls’. The actress and singer became well known for her hard partying, rock and roll lifestyle, and for the many insights into the jet set lifestyle that she provided for the public as the all-time ‘Queen of Kiss-and-Tell’.
More recently she became a household name as the estranged mother of soap star Steffi McBride. The moving tale of their reunion was told last year by Steffi herself in her book, ‘The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride’, (also published by Blake).
Fifteen year-old Maggie became an infamous fixture on the glamorous London social scene soon after she arrived in 1970, emerging as a regular pin-up girl on ‘The Benny Hill Show’ and in the many West End farces and sex shows staged by Soho show business king, Paul Raymond.
In ‘The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer’ Maggie will be talking for the first time about what really went on in the steamy world of international nightclubs and hotels and revealing the secrets within her family that shocked even her.
‘Every teenager dreams of running away from home at some time,’ says ghostwriter, Andrew Crofts, ‘but not many of us have the nerve to actually do it. There are so many traps waiting out there for the innocent and the reckless. Maggie is one of life’s great survivors. She made a pact with the Devil for the chance to follow her dreams and paid the ultimate price. Her extraordinary adventures make for compelling reading; a parable for our media and showbiz-obsessed times.’

Thursday 26 February 2009

A Glimpse of the Future

I spent an interesting day in Oxford this week visiting the James Martin 21st Century School as I set out on the job of researching and writing a biography of James Martin, a man who became the biggest ever single donor to Oxford University a few years ago when he pledged $100m of his own money for the founding of the School. What an incredible achievement the place is.

Born into a poor family in Ashby-de-la-Zouche, James rose to prominence with his writings and teachings about technology and the future of the planet. By founding such a distinguished school he has put his money where his mouth is and is actually doing something about the many problems that face us and the planet we inhabit.

He is basically investing in ideas, something which he has been immensely successful at for many years. The School’s fifteen interdisciplinary institutes and more than a hundred fellows across the collegiate university are studying potential global catastrophes like climate change, bio-engineering, pandemics, mass migration and the possibility of human extinction before the end of the 21st Century. At the same time they are trying to harvest the incredible opportunities arising from new technologies and innovations, as well as social change and improvements in understanding how to deal with systemic risk.

We expend so much of our academic energy studying what has gone before, it is cheering to see such a concerted and intelligent effort being made to understand the future so that we can prepare for it better.

James Martin must be one of the most interesting men currently at work on our planet and this School may well provide some of the answers that will save us from destroying ourselves and maybe even help move us closer to creating a real Utopia.

Monday 2 February 2009

Winner of Steffi McBride Competition

The winner of the Steffi McBride short story competition is fourteen year-old Nicole Hendry with her piece, “Do You Think It’s Fair?”. It was just as hard a choice as I had thought it would be but there were a number of reasons why I eventually plumped for this one over the very strong competition.
To start with, of course, there is the standard of the writing. Phrases like “the ache was unbearable, like someone tightening the gears in her face with a spanner” and “she heard her mother’s irritated footsteps ascend the stairs” seemed to sing off the page.
The rules of the competition were that it should be about ‘modern celebrity’ and the subjects of anorexia and of fame being forced on people too young to handle it both seem particularly relevant. The fact that they are being written about by someone who is still the same age as the protagonist also strikes me as important, providing a contrast to us older authors who would naturally see things from a different and perhaps more objective perspective.
I must also confess that Nicole’s story rings some personal bells for me as well. Soon after I left school, many years ago, I worked in a modelling agency and school in Bond Street. I may even have worn a ‘pin-striped suit’, certainly many of my older colleagues did. Even then, when I was still young and hungry, and the instant celebrity business was also still in its infancy, I wondered what was going on in the heads of the girls, many of whom were as young as fourteen, who flocked through the doors in search of fame and adoration in much the same way as X-Factor contestants do today.
I can’t wait to see what Nicole comes up with next.