International Women’s Day and The Orange Prize longlist

“There’s a flower called ‘bird of paradise’ all over Los Angeles: it has orange leaves shaped like knives, although from a certain angle the flowers also look like gaggles of slim-necked tropical birds,” – The Pink Hotel


I’m thrilled to be on the longlist for The Orange Prize, announced this morning to mark the hundred and first International Women’s Day. I was planning on blogging about the strange science of the colour pink today for Women’s Day. I lay in bed last night planning sentences about light spectrums, rainbows, and the mysterious part of the colour wheel where ultraviolet and pink reside. I was going to write about too-glam children in sinister pastel lipstick, the crack of rock candy between your teeth, coral way down in the sea, and the exact shade of colour on the menacing beachfront hotel in Los Angeles that inspired The Pink Hotel.

But now I have a different colour on my mind, and am far too excited to contemplate the science of light receptors. “Orange is the happiest colour,” as Frank Sinatra once said.  I’m proud to be a part of today’s celebration of women’s achievements, and to be connected to The Orange Prize along with such wonderful writers as Anne Enright, Ann Patchett and Al Kennedy. The only book I’ve read so far on the list is The Forgotten Waltz, which was entirely beguiling, but I’m looking forward to reading them all. It’s going to be a huge pleasure over the next few months. Keeping to my colourfully themed twenty four hours, I think I may start with A.L. Kennedy’s The Blue Book.