Between the Covers was thrilled to be invited to a celebration with the squillion-selling Game of Thrones author George RR Martin at the Tower of London on Thursday – not least because Between the Covers' "plus-one" now has to do all the ironing for a month.
Guests were given a tour of the Tower and the Crown Jewels, and Martin's publisher at HarperVoyager recalled how rights were bought to "what then seemed like a very expensive 'trilogy'" during a boozy office Christmas lunch. The series is now at book five, and counting ... Ironing is a small price to pay for a golden ticket compared to the lengths that some of Martin's fans will go to just to get his attention. On his website, he has posted pictures of babies that fans have sent him – babies named after his characters. Brans, Aryas and Daeneryses are popular. But beware: a top HarperVoyager source tells us that Martin is already working on book six, The Winds of Winter, and more favourite characters might bite the dust. His publisher resisted locking him in the Tower until he finishes the book, which he expects to take five years.
Readers who want to buy Bloomsbury's new publication, Gin & Juice: The Victorian Guide to Parenting, by Alan Tyers and the cartoonist Beach (£10) had better alert. Three titles with the title Gin & Juice are currently listed on Amazon. One is this latest, which gives tongue-in-cheek advice from the likes of "Gertrude Fjord-Mettod" and Queen Victoria, alongside advertisements for Bob the Empire Builder toys ("Can we annexe it? Yes we can!") and retro illustrations. Another appears to be loosely about Snoop Doggy Dog, and is published by one of those companies that copy and paste Wikipedia content into print-on-demand technology and then sell the resulting "book" for £30. The third is a bargain at £0.77, and is a "gay erotic paranormal" story in the form of a Kindle ebook. Its author, JT Whitehall, is a bartender by night, and spends his days writing poetry and short stories. He wins the award for the most original Gin & Juice of the moment.
Fans of Charlotte Mendelson – Love in Idleness, 2001; Daughters of Jerusalem, 2003; When We Were Bad, 2007 – will be very pleased to hear that Pan Macmillan has just bought rights to her new novel for publication by its Mantle imprint in summer 2013. Her publisher, Maria Rejt, says that Almost English is "a stunning, moving and important novel written in the most exquisite language, and in the most warm-hearted way. Its themes are universal – Almost English explores love across the generations, the pain of first love, of acceptance and rejection, a young girl's desperation to fit in without knowing quite how. It tells of the strange world of the English boarding school in the 1980s and of the equally exotic world of Hungarian exiles yearning for home. It is, without question, Charlotte's breakthrough novel and a landmark publication for Mantle in 2013."
In more good news for fiction fans, the winning entry in Mslexia magazine's inaugural Women's Novel Competition has just been bought in a six-figure, two-book deal by Harper Collins. The Palace of Curiosities, by former Goth band singer Rosie Garland, was inspired by the 19th-century "freak show" star Julia Pastrana, who suffered from hypertrichosis terminalis, which meant that her body was covered in thick hair. This year's Mslexia competition has just opened for entries, with a closing date of 10 September. Details can be found at www.mslexia.co.uk.