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!