Friday, December 23, 2005

And so the year turns a full circle...

Happy Holidays, gentle readers

I hope you all have a stress-free Crimbo, get tons of wonderful gifts and eat as much as you like without feeling bilious.

I'm going to my Dad, who lives about six miles away, and will be cooking Christmas dinner for him and my sister, nieces, maybe my brother and anyone else who's around. Note to self: Remember to pick up the turkey you ordered from M & S.

It's been a very exciting end of year for me as I signed with an agent on Monday. I've never had one, though most writers do, but I seemed to spend so much time doing boring business things and not enough time writing. I now have a film and TV agent too so hopefully this time next year I'll be in Hollywood asking Jake Gyllenhaal if he wouldn't mind just whipping off his top before he auditions. I wish!

I thought it would be sweet to do a little round-up of all my favourite things of the year for your reading pleasure...

Favourite tunes

Milk Bottle Symphony - Saint Etienne

I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star - The Boy Least Likely To

I Never - Rilo Kiley

Hung Up - Madonna

The Only One - Ready Made FC

Travellin' Song - Bright Eyes

Another Sunny Day - Belle And Sebastian

Favourite Books

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Here Kitty Kitty by Jardine Libaire

Twins by Marcy Dermansky

Hairstyles Of The Damned by Joe Meno

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

Favourite TV shows

Veronica Mars


The O.C (Seth + Summer 4 Eva!)

Gilmore Girls


Little Britain


(God, I love my US TV!)

Favourite films


Me, You And Everyone We Know


Sin City

I haven't seen a lot of films this year, mostly DVDs but there are a ton coming out in the UK soon that I want to seel I Walk The Line, Capote, Brokeback Mountain, The Producers, Memoirs Of A Geisha and March Of The Penguins, aw!

So, as I draw to a close, I wanted to do something a little special to finish my last post of the year. I always make a mix CD that I send out with my Christmas cards that has my favourite songs from the year. All the tunes I mentioned above are on the 2005 one, plus some others and you could win a copy of it. Yes, you! All I want you to do is leave a comment but it has to be a haiku about one of your favourite things of the year. Don't know what a haiku is? Look it up in a dictionary. And don't forget to include your email address. (There could be more than one winner too!)

So, happy holidays once again and see you in the New Year.



Saturday, December 10, 2005

Well, it must be Saturday...

I'm actually remembering to update in a timely, every seven days fashion this week. I could be looking at tiles in a big bathroom shop on the Holloway Road (my shower cubicle is on the verge of imminent collapse) but instead I'm munching toast and staying indoors where it's warm and I can rip some tunes (currently Snow Patrol) on to my iPod. Actually I've just come back from the gym and I have that annoying, post-swim closed up ear thing going on. I know when I least expect it a warm trickle of water will suddenly run out of my ear, which usually feels quite pleasant.

I'm gearing up for the end of the year, in that I'm thinking about all the great songs and books and films I've seen so I can do a great, big list for my last post of 2005. But when I'm not doing that, I'm very hard at work. I've just had the outline for my next book approved and I'm going to start on that this week. I don't want to give too much away but it's going to be a little lighter than Let's Get Lost and I'm going to write it from the boy's POV. Except it's not so much boy meets girl as boy is related to girl and she's driving him to an early grave. There probably won't be as much dry humping in this book as my other ones but I hope that won't put you off.

And now my sofa and the evil crack this is Sudoku is calling to me...


Sarra x

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Stop, look and listen...

Obviously my vow to be more diligent about posting here went horribly wrong. But it's late Saturday afternoon, the central heating's toasty, I'm in my Old Navy micro-fleece PJ bottoms and the most wild thing I'm going to do this evening is order a Chinese even though I didn't go to the gym today. It's like emo never happened!

If that sounds terribly unglam, I did go to LA a couple of weeks ago to write a piece for British ELLE. It took almost a day to get threre door to door, I stayed in Hollywood for 48 hours, then took another day to get home. And woah, the jetlag!

At the moment I'm working on an outline for my next book. I know a lot of you are interested in being writers so you might find this useful but when I want my publishers to approve my next idea I give them a chapter by chapter synopsis of what the book will be about and also use that as my outline for when I write the book. I start off with the title, then the basic premise (which is a paragraph summing up the entire book in a couple of lines) and then do a really detailed breakdown of what happens in each chapter. This is a really good way of getting your idea right and thinking about how you want to layer the plot and build the suspense. When I'm doing my outlines, I usually find myself coming up with actual bits of dialogue and stuff (why, yes that would be the technical term!) that usually end up in the book too.

The basic premise for Let's Get Lost was this:

This is a poignant but snarky story about losing your mother, when you’ve just started the necessary process of pushing her away in order to discover who you are. It’s not page after page of weepy moping and whining. Isabel is queen bee of a posse of teen divas, in embroiled in a dirtybadwrong love affair with an older boy and has a bratty little brother to deal with. But her biggest stumbling block is a father who can’t handle a teenage daughter and always observes a six inch personal space bubble every time they’re in the same room but at the heart of it all, is a story about a girl trying to find sense in something that is completely senseless.

Talking of Let's Get Lost, the cover is now my user pic. And the book is available for pre-order on And that's about all the news that's fit to print...


Sarra x

Monday, November 07, 2005

So, tonight that I might see...

Hello Ladies

Not much has been happening chez Manning. I'm wading through proofs of Diary Of A Crush to get them ready for US publication next summer. The three books look so cute! They'll totally rock any bookshelf!

Mostly I've been trying to ignore the loud bang of fireworks and squinting a lot. I've started this new Ortho K treament to correct my blind as a batness because I was riskng life and limb every time I took my glasses off to go swimming. I didn't fancy laser surgery but found that I could wear these special lenses at night while I sleep and then during the day I can actualy see. Well, I will be able to actually see. I started it on Friday night and I now have near perfect vision in my right eye,; my left eye is very weak so it will take more work. It's very strange not to be wearing my Enid Coleslaw specs.

Also, I'm getting comment spam from some stupid person with a 'make money from home' website. Does anyone know how to block users from your blog? I already work from home quite happily without signing up for some bogus get rich quick scheme!


Sarra x

Monday, October 31, 2005

Things that go ker-thump in the night

Happy Halloween, gentle readers.

Instead of doing anything constructive I thought I'd post a list of things that scare the living crap out of me. (Yes, I do contain language that some people might find offensive!)

1. Anything with mustard, sunflower seeds or poppy seeds in them.
Violently allergic, you see.

2. Poltergeists.
Writing in blood on people's walls and moving the furniture round is not cool.

3. The Bush administration
Any girl should have nightmares about losing her personal freedoms and reproductive rights.

4. Queens Avenue
The street behind me which has very poor lighting and is rumoured to be cursed. I NEVER walk down it late at night.

5. Adam Sandler
Urgh! His smug, smirky face gives me the heebie jeebies.

6. Minnie The Moocher by Cab Calloway
When I was little I used to cry every time I heard this song because it's so creepy.

7. Every horror film ever made.
Even the really rubbish ones. I shriek and scream everytime there's a bang or someone jumps out on the stupid teenagers who know there's a homicidal, axe-wielding maniac on the lose but still decide to split up and look for him. Like, whatever!

So, what makes you frightened?

Love S x

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The wanderer returns...

Greetings, girls

I am a bad blogger, or an infrequent one. Either way I haven't been updating this as regularly as I should. But I solemnly promise to do better. Especially as I'm finishing up a work thing early this week and will then be at home on a "writing vacation." I'm taking the rest of the year off from full-time work to make a start on my grown-up book, get an agent (I don't have one of them but I hear they're handy to have around) and top hopefull start my next teen book. I'm working on a proposal for my publisher right now and I hope they like it too because I'm pretty excited about it.

We're just putting the finishing touches to Let's Get Lost for publication in the UK next February. You can pre-order it from Amazon right now! Though I'm reliably informed that the title is unsuitable for the US market so will change before it gets published over there. We're looking at different options right now. Sigh...

So, yeah, just letting you know I'm still alive and that I haven't been mown down by a lorry or caught bird flu. And I will endeavour to be better at updating in the coming weeks.


S x

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Strictly filler...

Hello pop tarts

Y'know, I realised I hadn't posted here for a while and now I'm staring at a blank screen and can't think of anything interesting to tell you.

Hmmm, well, Diary Of A Crush is being prepared for its US debut. The three books will be coming out in, I think, July 2006, just after Pretty Things is being released in paperback. You've probably read me answering questions about the Crush trilogy on this blog but you'll finally get a chance to read it.

This is the blurb that will go at the back of the book:

Sarra Manning says: "Diary Of A Crush started out as a fictional column for the now sadly defunct, J17, a British teen mag where I spent four happy years. I got to write about some of my favourite things in DOAC: art boys, vintage dresses and heart-stopping kisses and was amazed when I realised that the J17 readers shared my obsessions.

I think Edie struck a chord with so many girls because she's not perfect. She's awkward and shy and her hair never does what she wants it too. But she doesn't stay the same – during the course of the three books, she starts to grow up and take charge of her life and her relationship with Dylan, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I wrote Diary Of A Crush over four years and it was a wonderful experience that led to many amazing things, including a book deal and this moment on a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write these words and pinch myself at the thought that Diary Of A Crush is now going global and that American readers will have a chance to hopefully fall in love with Edie and Dylan."

The Diary Of A Crush trilogy are Sarra Manning's latest novels, preceeded by the books Guitar Girl and Pretty Things. Her varied career has included a long stint as entertainment editor on J17, launching and then editing Ellegirl UK, before becoming editor of BBC's What To Wear magazine. She now writes for many UK publications including The Guardian, ELLE, Red, and Grazia, and also works as a consultant for a number of UK magazine publishers.

Ms Manning lives in London with her disobedient dog, Dino, a mongrel whom she saved from an uncertain future.

And Let's Get Lost, or the Big, Depressed Teen Novel, as I like to call it, will be out in the UK in February and out in the States in November 2006 (in hardback.)

I'm prouder of this than just about anything I've ever written. It's quite dark and you probably won't like Isabel, the heroine, an awful lot at the start of the book. But I think she'll end up tugging at your hearts. This is the official description that will be sent out - you get to see here it first!

Some girls are born to be bad...Isabel is one of them. Her
friends are terrified of her, her teachers can't get through to her...her
family doesn't understand her. And that's just the way she likes it. See,
when no one can get near you, no one will know what keeps you awake at
night, what you're afraid of, what has broken your heart...But then Isabel meets
the enigmatic Smith, who can see right through her act. Bit by bit he
chips away at her armour, and though she fights hard to keep hold of her
cool, and her secrets, Isabel's falling for him, and coming apart
at the seams when she does...A poignant, sometimes dark, and utterly
heart-breaking novel, told with all the author's trademark wit and sharp observation...

Nothing else to say but that you should all go and see Serenity at your local picture house and I'll be at the Cheltenham Literary Festival this Saturday to run a workshop on magazine journalism. All the places are booked but if you're already in the workshop, don't be shy. And please laugh at all my crap jokes.

Love, love, love

Sarra x

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Oh, the things I have seen...

Back from my travels to NYC now. And though I'm barely lucid, I wanted to do a quick post. Firstly to thank Eve, the one reader who actually turned up to the signing that never was (loved your legwarmers) and secondly to give you a heads up that I'm doing a workshop on magazine (and maybe tawdry teen fiction) writing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on October 8th. I can't work out for the life of me how to make active links on this blog but if you go to:, you should be able to find out the relevant details. I think there's only a few places left so hurry!

And I was going to tell you all about going to the freak show at Coney Island and how Bethany Hamilton is one of the rudest madams I've ever come across but my jet lag, it kills me.

(Message to Rhi: You should be able to find my email addy in the back of my books.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Are we there yet?

Just emerging from packing hell (where is my huge fold-out wash bag that I bought specifically for this kind of occasion?) to remind you that I'll be at Books Of Wonder on West 18th Street, NYC between 12 am and 2pm this Saturday (September 17th) to a brief talk, a question and answer session and signing. Please, come along if you're in town. Bring your friends! Go to for more details.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

See you on the other side...

Urgh! Getting up early on a Sunday sucks. But I'm guzzling coffee, should be making sandwiches and waiting for my Dad to come and pick me up as we're going on our annual jaunt to Devon.

I know that going on holiday with your Dad sounds uncool but for a week I get to channel my inner Seth Cohen and live like a pensioner for a week. Long drives, regular rest breaks, a bit of Scrabble. Though last time we went I was hopelessly behind on Pretty Things and had to take my laptop. And lo, Walker and Daisy's road trip was born! This time I'm taking some new teen novels I wanted to check out and far too many Sudoku puzzles. We'll be listening to an eclectic mix of CDs in the car: Frank SInatra, Bobbie Gentry, Saint Etienne and The Boy Most Likely To and I really need some more coffee...

Be good!

Sarra x

Monday, August 29, 2005

Well, I'm softer than my face would suggest...

Hello pop kids

Firstly, any US readers in the vicinity of Hurricane Katrina, I hope you guys and your families are all well and safe. After a very soggy summer, we've had two glorious days of sunshine in London. Yet, I'm sitting at home on this Bank Holiday Monday, trying desperately to clear up some freelance work. I've just recently started writing a column for ELLE UK called "I wish I didn't..." and I need to write two at once as I'm heading off on my holidays next weekend. There'll be a week in Devon before I fly out to New York for almost a fortnight.

I'll be doing a book reading and signing while I'm there at:

Books Of Wonder, W18th Street
Between 12am and 2pm on Saturday, 17th September

I think some other teen writers will be reading and if anyone's around, hey, come down! I've only ever done a reading once before at the little launch party we had for Guitar Girl at the Boogaloo Bar (favourite haunt of Pete Docherty and Kate Moss!) just up the road from me in Highgate, I had a terrible choking fit somewhere in the middle so I'm hoping there won't be a repeat performance.

What's the next item on the agenda? A question from Rowena:

Dylan and Edie: were these names chosen because of Bob Dylan and Edie Sedgwick, who had were allegedly involved at one point? Just curious.

YES! Yes! Yes! Well, spotted! I was absolutely obsessed with Edie Sedgwick when I was a teenager, after reading this wonderful book, Edie: An American Biography by Jean Stein. So, when it came to writing Diary Of A Crush, I had to call my heroine Edie and Dylan was a natural choice for the love interest. (Incidentally, Rowena, did you know that Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album was meant to have been written for Edie, especially Just Like A Woman?) There's been a renewed interest in Edie Sedgwick, with a film of her life planned called Factory Girl, allegedly starring Sienna MIller and a lot of the catwalk shows for Autumn/Winter 2005 picked Edie as their inspiration. She was tall and skinny with hair dyed silver like her mentor, Andy Warhol, and wore skimpy little t-shirts and thick black tights when she went out. Not a look I could ever carry off!

I'd also like to thank Lady Julieanne for her lovely comment. What happened to J17 was an absolute tragedy. I can say no more. And I was really devestated when I found out this week that Ellegirl UK, which I launched with one of my very dear friends, Sarah Bailey (who gave me my very first full-time job when she edited Just Seventeen as it was then,) and went on to edit, is closing too.

Oh, and I've had to disable anonymous comments on this blog, after it got spam-bombed. But I would encourage all of you to have your own blog, especially if you want to be writers. Sharing your thoughts and feelings every day is great experience.

Anyway, columns to finish, laundry to do.

Be safe, be well, be stylin'!

S x

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My turn to spam!

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the website: ! Pass the word, if you're feeling charitable...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I love you but I've chosen dorkness...

Haven't been around much, have I? My current freelance work is keeping me busy and I've just a bit of a giddy social whirl of a week as it was my birthday.

I'm still getting too many spam and chain emails from readers who've added my addresses to their address books (not to mention hysterical emails when I call them on it) so I've had to make the unwelcome decision to stop including my email address in my books. This pisses me off quite a lot as I really like hearing from people who've read my stories but I'm slightly drowning under the sheer weight of the spam that I'm also getting as a result and I'm also aware that it takes me a long time to send out redirect emails to this blog because I'm so busy. Instead I'm going to include the address of this blog so I can still have a dialogue with you guys. (Oh and Hodder, my UK publishers have made me a pretty, little microsite: It's a work in progress but there will be more features added soon.

On to happier things. Diary Of A Crush! I think there's a lot of confusion surrounding the different versions of books in the Crush verse. Basically the three white books published by Hodder

Diary Of A Crush: French Kiss
Diary Of A Crush: Kiss And Make Up
Diary Of A Crush: Sealed With A Kiss

are the definitive versions. They contain all the columns from J17, plus the free novels we gave away as well as additional material I wrote to get the books oven ready for publication. These will be published (with different cover artwork) in the States and France next year. There are a few copies lurking about on places like eBay and my bookshelf, which were the free novels given away with J17.

French Kiss (a different cover to the other French Kiss)
Losing It
American Dream

In no version do Edie and Dylan get married. They never will, OK?!

And here is a sneak look at my new book cover, Let's Get Lost out in the UK, in January 2006. I love it! What do you think?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Diary Of A Crush - I gave you the best years of my life...

I spent over four years writing Diary Of A Crush as a column (and three cover-mounted books) for the fantastic and now sadly departed J17 magazine.

I fell totally in love with Dylan and Edie and loved living in their world and getting to tell their story and watch them grow up. The column led to some great things for me; mainly my book deal. I was also so pleased when I finally got to rework the series slightly and have it on sale in bookshops.

It's slightly strange to me that a lot of the letters I get about the trilogy all ask when I'm going to write the next book in the series because they want to know what happens to Dylan and Edie. I'm like, you've already had three books. That's your lot! The series finished at a definite cutting-off point with Edie and Dylan as a couple who were moving in different directions but staying together. And as I've said so many times that I think the words might be stuck on my forehead, it's a teen series and writing about a pair of 20-somethings is moving DOAC somewhere that it shouldn't go.

For a long time I didn't even own the copyright to DOAC, which meant that if the copyright owners had got someone else in to write more books there wouldn't have been anything I could have done about it. I do now own the copyright but I still feel very strongly that I have nothing left to write about Edie and Dylan and there are other stories that I want to tell more. If I did to write some more books in the Crush 'verse as I call it, they certainly wouldn't have Edie and Dylan in the starring roles. And more books would only happen if the trilogy does amazingly well when it gets released in the States next year.

So when I get asked if Dylan and Edie are still together or if they got married, I'm not really sure how to answer. To me, they're frozen in time on Camden Road, Dylan's head stuck out of the window as Edie runs after the car until it's a little speck in the distance. I know people love happy endings, I don't. I like slightly messy, ambiguous endings. Edie and Dylan got their happy ending and what happened next is as much up to you guys and the little daydreams you have about them, like I have my little daydreams about what happened after the credits started rolling at the end of Lost In Translation.

Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love that Diary Of A Crush has had such an amazing effect on the people who've read it. Dylan and Edie are hugely important to me, but their moment has passed. And being ornery and difficult, when I get emails telling me that if I "fob" you off with any more "excuses" about why I won't write any more DOAC books and that you'll write to my publishers and complain about me, it has the opposite effect.

So, to sum up. No more Edie and Dylan. Maybe some more Diary Of A Crush in the dim and distant future. Don't hurt my feelings with really aggressive emails. And stop sending me chain and spam emails before the back of my head explodes!


Sarra x

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A lazy girl writes

Hello Ladies

Sorry for being such a lame slacker and not posting for a while. I've been really busy - not with the book writing but with work stuff. Sadly, I still have to work for living! At the moment I'm doing some freelance shifts at Grazia magazine as well as writing a column for Elle UK and doing my first piece for The Guardian. Then it's a month doing some development work on a new magazine. Luckily I'm taking most of September off so I can have two holidays because I'm greedy. A week in Devon with my Dad who'll let me hog the car CD player and doesn't get angry if I want to read a book instead of talking to him and then nearly a fortnight in New York City where I'll be popping in to see my publishers but also doing lots of shopping and hanging out with some of my best friends. Roll on September.

I'm waiting for page proofs of Let's Get Lost to come back from the copy editor and if I can work out how to do it, I'll give you a sneak preview of the UK cover next time I post. It's by Ray Smith who did the UK cover of Pretty Things, which you should be able to see on this page, and it's so beautiful it makes me want to cry.

Finally, can I just put on my stern hat for a moment? I love getting your emails and I do read them all. I also love getting the comments that you post. But I don't love getting spam emails about software doodads or chain letters or getting added to IM buddy lists. So, please don't send them to me! There, lecture over.

And now I have to go and empty all the pots and pans out of my kitchen cupboard so I can mend the carousel which collapsed last night. My life is decidedly lacking in excitement.


Sarra x

Friday, July 08, 2005

London calling...

Hey pop kids

I hope everyone's well after the awful tragedy of yesterday. I had a very slow journey into work on the bus as the tube station was closed, saw lots of ambulances and police cars outside University College Hospital on Gower Street but didn't discover what had happened until I got to the office and watched it unfold on the TV.

It was shocking to see familiar scenes of the city I've lived in all my life wrecked by bombs and panic. I hope all of you and your loved ones are safe. I spent the entire day phoning and emailing my friends, and getting a ton of emails back especially as friends in America woke up to the news. Then a long trek home. Got a lift, walked a mile or so and then got another lift from my sister who'd driven six miles in from the suburbs so she could take me back to my house.

I love London more than anything. My family came here as immigrants from Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century to escape persecution and I feel the city flowing through my veins. It's where my family live, where most of my friends are and it inspires me. Now that Let's Get Lost is finally finished I'm working on my first grown-up book and it's all about my London from the Camden clubs of my wild teenage years to the Soho drinking dens of my early 20's and beyond to right now where I live in a beautiful part of North London, a few miles from where I grew up and on a summer's day I can look out and see the whole city laid out before me, sun glinting off the buildings, red brick Edwardian houses all lined up but beautiful woods five minutes away.

And being a Londoner is to be special. To be unflappable and practical in the face of whatever anyone wants to throw at us and to never lose that dry sense of humour that sees us through the bad times. I love London...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Post and run...

A real quickie while I guzzle down some coffee as I'm doing some part-time work on a magazine at the moment. The early mornings are not pretty when I've got used to getting up at 9.30 every day. Oh dear...

Anyway, someone (very sorry but I can't remember your name) asked if Diary Of A Crush was available in the States. Well, you can buy it on import from but it is actually going to be released by my US paperback publishers, Puffin early next year. They're just sorting out the artwork at the moment!

And now I must have more coffee before I brave the tube in rush hour. Have a good day.

S x

Friday, June 24, 2005

Nothing short of total procrastination...

If I put my mind to it, I'll have finished the final draft of Let's Get Lost tomorrow and can spend Sunday doing fun things like going to the cinema. Instead I'm sitting here and staring out of the window at a grey sky as it tries really hard to thunderstorm and realise that I've just spent two hours faffing about now 5 minutes actually working on the book. That's not a good work/faffing about ratio!

In order to waste even more time, here are some things that I'm really obsessed about right now.


That would be the weird, whirlwind romance of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I'm sorry, Kate Holmes - she's officially changing her name. I don't know. What ever would Pacey say.

Tales From Turnpike House - Saint Etienne

This is the new CD from Saint Etienne, one of my favourite bands. It tells the story of 24 hours in the life of a block of flats and the people who live there. I love the way Saint Etienne are, for me, the sound of London; they're dirty pop, sad love songs, bleak optimism.


This is a drama series that's been on in the States that I did not download from the internet because that's illegal and wrong. It's by the guy who made Alias and it's about the plane that crashes onto this weird tropical island and it's all spooky and the survivors all seem to be there for a specific reason. I think they're going to show it on Channel Four soon.


Email from Google. It's so sleek and shiny and Hotmail is so 1999!

People thinking that The Faders inspired Guitar Girl

Whatever! Ever think that maybe Guitar Girl inspired The Faders?!

OK, I really should go and work on the book until it's time for Big Brother...

S x

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Hello pop kids

I guess, like most of you, I'm going to be celebrating Father's Day with my Dad, and the rest of my family. We'll eat some food, share some stories and probably have at least one argument before we part company. It's kinda what families do. Though I'll be having a dad/daughter movie and meal bonding event later on in the week, when it's just the two of us.

But right now I must get back to the new and final draft of Let's Get Lost, which I should have delivered to my publishers early next week. Then there might actually be some fun entries on this blog, instead of boring you all with tales of editing down my convoluted sentences.

Hope you and your Dads have a great day.

S x

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Things that make my heart go pitter patter

* First cup of coffee of the day.

* Being in the pool on a sunny day and swimming right under the skylight where the water's sun-dappled.

* Being all clean and post-showered with just-shaved legs and then sliding into a freshly laundered bed and snuggling down with a good book as the rain pelts against the Velux windows.

* Hanging out with good friends and giggling at whatever DVD we're watching before we raid the fridge for Munchies.

* Watching my niece come into the world.

* The smell of freesias first thing in the morning.

* French Disko by Stereolab on my iPod and bouncing down the road, or a long bus journey so I can get in one complete play of If You're Feeling Sinister.

* When I lose weight and my jeans get too big and slip down my hips.

* Good hair days, good eyebrow days, good fashion ensemble days and my signature slash of red lipstick.

* Emails from teenage girls who completely understand.

* Still being able to believe in love.

* Anything with polka dots.

* Walking through Highgate Woods and feeling at one with nature before getting the bus the rest of the way home.

* Aw, dogs sitting in cars with their heads stuck out of the window and their tongues wagging in the breeze.

* Imagining the boy who hasn't given up on finding me.

* The last paragraph of Guitar Girl.

* My rich, inner life...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Drive-by posting...

Just a quickie because I have to hand in a big article first thing tomorrow morning for a magazine and I need to get back to it - though actually being a writer is one of those jobs where you never shake that Sunday afternoon feeling of having too much homework!

I forgot to mention for anyone here from the US or Canada that Pretty Things is now available to buy in the shops or on the interpipe. And I'm absolutely obsessed with the new Saint Etienne single, Side Streets. In fact, I've just made the fatal mistake of setting up an account at the Apples iTunes store, which makes it far too easy to purchase huge amounts of music at the click of my mouse.

Anyway, back to the grindstone...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

From your head to the page...


It's a glorious sunny day in London. I've just been for a walk through Highgate Woods with a friend and now I'm back at my desk getting ready to hunker down for the afternoon with the manuscript for Let's Get Lost. Really though, I want to go outside and play!

Time to answer a question though. SweetSugarRush asked: I write stories, well try to, and i have great plots for them in my head but i can't seem to get them off the ground. Do you have any ideas which could help me get them off the ground and onto my paper?

I know exactly what you mean! I carried Guitar Girl around in my head for years before I ever got a chance to write it and I learnt so much during the process. Sometimes writing can seem like this big, mystical thing when actually I've found that I need to be really organised about it.

So the first thing I do is write a really detailed chapter by chapter synopsis. I usually know where the story is going to start and where it's going to end and vaguely how it's going to get there but it needs to be fleshed out. So for Guitar Girl, my chapter synopsis started like this:

Chapter one
Molly starts a band as a laugh to play a birthday party for a friend. It’s just her, Jane and Tara. Molly writes a bunch of songs about everything from secretly being a superhero to the crush she has on the boy who works in her local corner shop. They go down a storm.

Chapter two
They actually get a proper paid gig and at the end of it, Dean approaches Molly and basically tells her that he’s joining the band. They arrange an audition/rehearsal and he turns up with T. It sounds better, almost like a proper band and the two boys are in. They even decide on a name, The Hormones
They take a while to get used to being in a band. The three girls are still at school and Dean and T have McJobs. Molly concentrates on studying for her A-levels and writing songs about mermaids and the little toys that you get in those plastic eggs outside supermarkets, while Dean helps her with the guitar parts.

You don't have to follow it to the letter and you'll probably discover that as you start writing, the story may just decide to tell itself.

The other thing I do is little character sketches so I know exactly who I'm writing about. So, again for Guitar Girl, I started with:

Molly, 17. Not one of the in-crowd at school but secure in the knowledge that she’s her own person. She’s quirky, very funny, has her own style and her own little clique of friends. She plays guitar, sings and writes a lot of the songs.
Jane is Molly’s best friend. She plays keyboards, tambourine and anything else that’s needed. She’s pretty and flaky.
Dean, 20. Other guitarist. Meets Molly at a gig and they decide to form a band. They argue all the time but also seem to really connect.
T, 20, is Dean’s friend and gets drafted in to play bass at the eleventh hours. He’s very cynical and withdrawn.
Tara is a friend of Molly’s who plays the drums. She’s the one constant element in the band and always tries to keep the peace and not take sides. She’s secretly in love with Molly.
Paul is in his late 20’s and becomes the band’s manager once they become quite well known.

But before I start writing, I go into more detail so I think about what books my characters are reading, what they're listening to, where they buy clothes, what they do on a Saturday night and so it almost feels like they're in the room with me or a voice in my head saying, "I would never talk like that!"

Another cool thing to do is to make a mix CD of the songs that you characters would listen to or that you think really captures their essence.

These are all good little tactics that you can use to plan out your story and take it a stage where it's not just an idea in your head but something that demands to be told. When it actually comes to writing, though everyone's different. Some writers I know set aside a certain amount of time every day to write and are really strict about the amount they write. And others are quite happy to sprawl out on the sofa, with the TV on and their laptops perched on the coffee table.

One cute thing I like to do though is measure my word count on a little bar so I can keep track of how I'm doing. I like this one best of all:
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
754 / 2,000

You can change the colour and post your word count in your blog so your friends can cheer you on!

I hope that helps. These are all the devices I use but every writer finds things that works for them. Just remember there's no right or wrong way to do it, it's whatever you're happiest doing that makes your story come alive.

Good luck!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Books Written For Girls - part one

Hey ladies

Sorry I haven't been around for a few days. I have quite severe food allergies and had a bad attack on Friday morning, which kinda knocked the stuffing out of me. I'm fine now - in fact, I've just finished lying on my living room floor doing a Pilates workout and before I head back to book revisions, Josie posted that: ive read all the books i own and im stuck for a new one to read, as im just reading the end of Pretty things and its an amazing book, so do you have any good books to recommend that are in the same style as your own?

Well, I don't know about in the same style as me, simply because I don't read a lot of teen fiction. Mostly because I find that when I'm writing, I don't want to be accidentally influenced by the books I'm reading, especially if they're in a similar genre. And the other reason is that I don't like a lot of teen fiction and find it really obviously written by adults who wouldn't know what to say to a fifteen-year-old girl if she bit them on the nose. How controversial!

Anyway, having said that this is the first in an occasional series of books written for and about teenagers that I really love. Some you might have heard of, some you might not but they all mean a lot to me. (Oh, and they should all be available through Amazon.)

Girl by Blake Nelson
"And then I felt daring and wrote how Carla had been so nice and how me and Rebecca thought she was such a bitch because we were afraid of her and how people always hate each other if they're dressed cooler than them or if they're artsy or pretentious or whatever. But then I crossed the Carla part out and recopied the page but then I decided to leave it in and I had to recopy it again. It took two frozen yoghurts and three coffees to get it all done but I was so excited and I signed it, "See you" and kissed every corner of the page. And then I ran down to the post office and kissed the enevelope ten more times and drew some flowers on it and dropped it in. And the minute it fell through the slot I felt sick from nerves and caffiene and yoghurt."

Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
"We knew the pain of winter wind rushing up your skirt, and the ache of keeping your knees together in class, and how drab and infuritating it was to jump rope while the boys played baseball. We could never understand why the girls cared so much about being mature, or why they felt so compelled to compliment each other, but sometimes, after one of us had read a long portion of the diary out loud, we had to fight back the urge to hug one another or to tell each other how pretty we were. We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colours went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn't fahtom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them."

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
"I met Cyril lin the wood as arranged. I told him what to do next. He listened to me with a mixture of dread and admiration. The he took me in his arms, but I could not stay, as it was getting late. I was surprised to find that I did not want to leave him. If he had been searching for some means of attaching me to himself, he had certainly found it. I kissed him passionately. I even longed to hurt him, so that he woould not be able to forget me for a single moment all the evening, and dream of me all night long. I could not bear the thought of the night without him."

I'll be reccing more books in the future. And over the next week, I'll try to answer some of the questions you've left for me. Have a sunny Sunday!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I was woken up by the postman today who delivered five copies of the Swedish edition of Diary of A Crush or as they call it, Edies Dagbook. If you happen to be holidaying in Stockholm, you should go into a bookshop and check out the cover!

I just have time to answer a question from Josie who wanted to know: if you could tell us what Lets Get Lost is about?

Well, I don't want to give away too much of the story but it's probably my darkest book to date. Way darker than Guitar Girl and the heroine, Isabel, isn't very nice. In actual fact, she's a self-admitted "nasty bitch." But as you probably know from my books, what you see on the surface is not what's really going on underneath.

Anyway, hot off the press, this is the back cover copy of Let's Get Lost, which I've just approved:

Isabel rules her school with an iron fist and a gang of minions to do her bidding. Her mates are frightened of her, the teachers can’t get through to her, and no one, but no one, is ever going to discover her dark, sad secrets.
But then she meets Smith, and her life starts coming apart...

"Girls like you don't have off days," Smith said. "You're pretty and and popular and you can have anything or anyone that you want."

I wanted to be that girl. The girl he thought I was. Who had nothing else to angst about but how her hair looked and why nobody understood her.

Josie also asked me if I had any book recommendations as she's run out of things to read so I'll be compiling a list and posting it in the next couple of days. Watch this space!

S x

Monday, May 30, 2005

Happy Bank Holiday!

Just popping in to wish you all a Happy Bank/Memorial Day (delete where applicable) and commiserations if you didn't get today off.

I'm a very lazy writer so I have spent most of the day playing the time-sucking demon that is Snood ( but I have started the rewrite on Let's Get Lost. I always love having the chance to go back and rip out all those awful sentences I shoved in first time round. Filling up the plotholes. Realising that I've put the phrase "his eyes blazed with fury" in each chapter and trying to come up with something else. I think there should be a re-write option in real life too.

I also went to the supermarket and did some laundry. Being writer is really unglamorous 99% of the time...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Is this thing on?

Hello! Hola! Greetings!

Yes, this is really Sarra Manning, author of Guitar Girl, Pretty Things and the Diary Of A Crush trilogy.

I wanted to have a blog so I can let you know what I'm up to, what I'm into and have a chance to meet some of my readers and answer your questions on my books and anything else you want to know about. I've had so many emails that I've been too snowed under to answer so I thought that having a blog might be the ideal solution.

I'm going to post pretty regularly and also hope to give you sneak previews of Let's Get Lost, my next book, which will be out in the UK in January 2006 and in June of the same year in the States.

So, don't be shy. I don't bite. Come on in and say hello.

S x