In the space of less than 10 hours I had the uncanny experience of having 2 degrees of separation from two of Britain's best-loved children's authors. Not via their agents, publicists, etc, or anyone in the industry; I wouldn't count that. No; I'm talking sheer coincidence.
Lookit: Yesterday, we're having lunch in Brighton, celebrating the First Holy Communion of our friends' daughter (her parents are enlightened atheists...). Two of the guests haven't seen me since I first started writing novels a few years back. They ask me to fill them in on the progress since then. "Someone I know at school - a parent - writes childrens' books," one of them says. "What's his name now? He's always saying how competitive it is." Later she remembers his name: Anthony Horowitz. "My nephew's favourite writer," I tell her. "My nephew keeps asking me if maybe one day I can get his autograph."
Much later that day we walk into Xi'an, the Szechuan Chinese restaurant owned by my pals Amy and Gary. Gary tells me over the bar that Philip Pullman used to be his teacher at Bishop Kirk, once a middle school in Summertown. "He comes in here sometimes," Gary says cheerfully. "He still remembers me! Tells me how I used to misbehave in class!" Then Gary tells me that Amy is giving lessons in Mandarin. I should learn, he says, so that I can one day converse with Chinese readers of my books. Gary does a quick mental calculation about what tiny proportion of the Chinese would need to read the books to make me a millionaire.
I love it when my friends are this optimistic. More power to the positive visualisation!