Postie proves that he's a man of letters
Roy Mayall (a pen name adopted by a literary-minded postal worker) told me that he wrote his recently published book, 'Dear Granny Smith: a Letter from Your Postman', in six days flat. He wrote furiously during the two-week strike earlier this year, airing the frustrations that must surely be felt by neighbourhood postal workers in an era of change. He said "It's 14,000 words long and it took me six days of writing. It was quite an effort but I wrote it on the two weeks that the strike was on, because I had a bit of extra time on my hands. I had the publisher commission it and they asked if I could write it very, very quickly, so I told them I'd have a go. Because it doesn't have a complicated structure – I wrote it as a letter – I was able to write the first thing that came into my head, like a long stream of consciousness." In the book, he explains to the imaginary "Granny Smith" (postmen's name for any elderly person that lives alone for whom letters are a lifeline) just why he went on strike.
The new rat pack
The children's fable 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' is to be a dark coming-of-age tale by Hollywood. The story will focus on a bullied high-school student who unintentionally channels the spirit of the mysterious Pied Piper and triggers terrifying consequences of his actions beyond his control. Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, who are well known in the graphic-novel world for publishing sinister takes on popular folk and fairy tales, will be the film's executive producers.
Back in the frame
Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, who heads Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Unit, revealed the "art fakes" that are due to appear in the V&A's exhibition on the subject in January to 'The Art Newspaper'. "We will re-create the atelier – or, rather, shed – of Shaun Greenhalgh, from Bolton, and show some of his pieces. We will also display works by John Myatt (who forged modern paintings), Robert Thwaites (who forged Victorian paintings) and Peter Ashley-Russell (who forged antique silver)."
Islamic Assassins head for the screen
Kamran Pasha, one of Hollywood's few Muslim writer-producers, was in London recently to talk about his novel and television work – which ranges from a book on Mohammed's wife to NBC's 'The Bionic Woman', starring the former EastEnder Michelle Ryan; and the Golden Globe-nominated 'Sleeper Cell'. He told me that he is now developing a television series with Warner Bros which will "look at the Dan Brown world of conspiracy theories". He said: "Being a Muslim, I'd like to include secret societies from the Muslim world, not just cults that Dan Brown features. I'd like to broaden it out to clubs like the Assassins, which were one of the biggest secret societies in the Middle East." The series is due to appear on TV by next year. Kamran said his mission in Hollywood was to help create "positive" Muslim characters for American TV and film.
Fuentes's new book is a big Fidel
This year, a fake autobiography by James Lever about the life and times of the Tarzan films' chimp, Cheeta, made it into the Booker longlist and was hailed as a great pastiche. In February, Norberto Fuentes will offer us 'The Autobiography of Fidel Castro'. The writer spent years as a member of Castro's inner circle but, by the late 1980s, he became "a man who knew too much" and was arrested, narrowly escaping a death sentence. He fled the country with the help of the writers' network PEN. Fuentes began to write about the Cuban revolution but realised that he couldn't write about Fidel (right) without writing as Fidel. The result is the first person "memoir".