Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmukkah gift to you

Happy Chrismukkah, dear readers!

I have a little present for you. Think of it like a DVD extra feature but with words. I'm posting some excerpts from Walker's bit of Pretty Things that never made it into the final version. I thought they might amuse you.

And then we had to stop because Lavinia strutted in and started screaming like a fishwife at us.

I had Charlie practically in catatonic shock next to me and over the other side of the room there was Daisy, curling in on herself as she bore the brunt of Lavinia's wrath.

Daisy has this really annoying thing about how she's fat. It's all "No, don't touch me there, I'm so lumpy." And even though I'm besotted with the evil little bitch, even I could never call her exactly sylph-like. But as she sat there, her lips, her shoulders, her everything drooping further down as Lavinia got going with her invective, she seemed to shrink before my eyes. Disappear into herself.

When she got up and tore out of there, it was like she was taking another piece of my soul with her.


"Um hang on a second," Charlie said from behind his fingers. "Don't take this the wrong way but I… well, I… that is… I like it when you flirt with me. I know it's not going to go anywhere. Believe me, I'm painfully aware of that but it doesn't mean you have to stop."

"I can't help it," I tried to explain. "It's like this inevitable reaction once I know someone fancies me. But I could try to stop…"
Charlie pushed the sun-bleached tips of his hair out of his eyes and frowned. "Didn't you just hear what I said? I don't want you to stop flirting with me. It's about the only sexual contact I get."

"Or you can stop," he hastily amended. "But only when I'm madly in love with someone who has the good sense to be madly in love with me back."
"I think the back of my head has just fallen out."


"So I guess you told Charlie," Daisy said calmly to Brie who refused to back down. I was getting really pissed off with V.02 of Brie, the bolshy remix.

"Charlie's my friend." The tone of Brie's voice redefined the word 'petulance.'

"Yeah and you didn't want him to find out like you did and be upset. I get that." Daisy put a hand up to shield her eyes from the sun and smiled at me.

"You been making inroads into my stash?" There had to be some reason why she was being so pleasant to me in front of other people.

I got another lazy Daisy smile and then she deliberately leaned forward and covered my hand with hers. None of this was wasted on Brie and Charlie who wore matching perplexed expressions like we were the last question in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

"Walker didn't tell you because I asked him not to," Daisy said to Charlie. "Because I was trying to pretend that me and him were just this temporary bout of insanity."

It took Brie and Charlie several millennia to eat their sausage and chips and bombard us with questions, which Daisy refused to answer. Instead she wouldn't stop touching me. Running her fingers along the back of my neck and tugging at the short strands of hair she found there. Curling her leg round mine under the table. Resting her head against my shoulder. There's only so much resistance a boy can give and in the end I stopped trying to fight it and let her do her worst.

The other two finally pissed off and then Daisy sighed. "Thank God for that. I thought they'd never leave. C'mere."


Next week, I will be posting a little unseen snippet from Let's Get Lost for your viewing pleasure.

Have a good one!

Love Sarra x

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Competition winners!

Hey there, my little buttercups

I had a ginormous plate of spaghetti bolognaise for dinner tonight at my favourite Italian restaurant, then walked three and a half miles home and now I'm feeling rather peckish again. Dang! I hate when that happens.

Life is a huge whirlygig of whirl at the moment. I'm still working on my second and final draft of a new book, plus have two big freelance assignments to finish up this week, before I can start worrying about Christmas presents that I have yet to buy and the free-range turkey I've yet to order. And more importantly, what the hell am I doing for New Year's Eve?

So I'm handing over this post to you. Or rather to the two winners of my little mix-CD competition. To be fair, I screwed up slightly. I do that a lot! I asked for a Christmas message from one of my characters, then I asked for a Christmas message to one of my characters. Quite frankly, I don't know where my head is these days.

There were lots of entries for either option and I was blown away by the thought and humour and creativity that had gone into them. But there could only be two winners and there are Gidget with a message from the lovely Brie and Special K who wrote a sort-of sequel to Guitar Girl - because you're certainly not getting one from me! Below are their winning messages of Yuletide cheer, and Ladies, you'll be getting an email from me asking for your snailmail addy. Well bloody done! Aaargh, that's something else I need to do this week – Crimbo cards and mix CDs!

Love Sarra x


Dearest Sarra,

Jingle bells
Walker smells
Charlie is still GAY
Daisy is a superbitch
And - oh, nevermind.

I'm just writing to wish you an amazing Christmas. 'Cause it's totally gonna be one. Next week, Charlie and Daisy and Walker and I are all going to go see The Shrew performed "professionally," together. Like as though we're the best of friends. Which, hello! Not likely.

Anyway, so what if they're professionals? I already know nothing can compare to our performance, even if the last night was . . . well, unprofessional.

On Christmas day, Charlie's coming over to do presents with me. I love getting presents, but the best part of Christmas is . . . well, the bits before it, I guess. Like, Christmas lasts all month, not just for one day. It has to do with the preparation and stuff, I think. Like, shopping for presents and listening to Christmas-y music and decorating the tree. Well, if you can get an ornament in before Henry, the wee bastard.

Everyone puts up pretty little lights and all the shops play "The Christmas Song." And it's that way the whole month! Yup. Like as though the whole world was celebrating the whole month.

Plus, everything goes all orangey and soft-focus and you feel all gooey inside like when you see that dress in the store window that's just made for you and you have exactly enough money left for it. It's the one time of year I've always felt like there were people all around me who really cared and even Henry can't ruin it when he doesn't get the present he wants or I put up the ornament that he wanted to.

So, here's wishing you happy holidays and many gooey feelings,

Oh and P.S., I'd really like that new Juicy Couture perfume or some more Anna Sui Sweet Dreams or possibly just that cute little top at Topshop I was going on about.

Special K

So it’s Christmas!
Once again the time for tinsel, trees and presents.
Oh and really crappy TV! Those rubbish films you only watch cos they’re Christmas premiers so you feel you have to…and reruns of Only fools and horses!
Unfortunately there’s also some bad things at this time of year that I just can’t escape.
Turning on the radio and hearing HIM. Turning on the TV and seeing HIM. Picking up a magazine and seeing HIM on the cover.
The success of ‘The Hormones’ seems to double over the holiday period. I sometimes wonder if whatever force is up there in the sky that controls this world just decided they hated me from day one.
So ye, I try to keep my friends around me constantly at Christmas because if I don’t my mind starts wandering to places I’d rather it didn’t and…well you hear about these people who’ve had mental breakdowns and done all kinds of crazy suicidal stuff cos of the holiday time blues. I so don’t wanna go down that path.
I know what you’re thinking. Get over it girl it was years ago!
Well I am over it….i just haven’t felt that way since. I mean I’ve had relationships but I’ve not found anyone that really makes me feel….like me. If that makes sense.
Maybe I’m just hanging on to a person I used to be, I don’t think I can be her anymore. Maybe I’m just hanging on to the idea of him realising he needs me.
Which…yeah right.
It doesn’t matter because I don’t need him and I’m just being sentimental because it’s holidays. I’m over it now. Smiles and mulled wine all around!
I’ll just spend Christmas hiding out in my flat with Smith. It’s all good.
Love Molly.

So it’s Christmas.
I hate Christmas. Simple as that. I have to stand in cold studios smiling at a camera, watching Sandrine embarrass herself by wearing clothes so thin and skimpy you can blatantly see her nipples through them! It’s ridiculous!
I know where I’d rather be…but it’s been too long. I wasn’t man enough to get her back then and I’m certainly not going to now. She’d laugh in my face. She’ll be having a fun Christmas with her boyfriend I’m sure of it. I don’t want to mess that up for her.
I miss her more than…I can’t even think of a metaphor for how much I miss her.
Maybe I could just send her a Christmas card.
Maybe if I did at least we could be friends again, right?

Yeah I know. I’m living in a dream world.
I’ll just spend Christmas hiding out in my room from Sandrine and her Christmas lingerie. How fun.
Love Dean.

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Burning the candle at both ends...

Buenos dias, my sweet ones

I'm a little hurty today as I've been going out too much and possibly drinking too much as well. Last night, I saw my good friend Kate Kannibal (possibly not her real last name) and her wonderful band, The Priscillas, play their Christmas show. And very wonderful it was, plus there was spectacular fake snow that got everywhere.

I'm meant to be going out tonight but the thought of curling up on the sofa in my pyjamas and watching DVDs is looking more and more tempting by the second. Especially as the coming week promises bowling and/or karaoke plus going to see my favourite new band Lucky Soul. Then a cocktail party and more bowling. Everyone I know seems to have a birthday right about now. Including the baby Jesus.

When I haven't been drinking and getting the 134 bus home at some ungodly hour in the morning, I've been wading through the second draft of the second book in my new series. I've made a rash promise to deliver it before Christmas. I'm crazy like that.

I'm still thrilled with all your comments about Let's Get Lost, especially as it seems to be more than just a good read, but a book that stays with you after you've read it and makes you cry. Tears are good. Tears are what I wanted. And the other thing I love is when art and life collide and something in one of my books slots right into what's happening with you. Fr'instance, onewtown08 is moving to Bossier City which is namechecked in Sealed With A Kiss and Dannie has been to Bailey's Fish 'n' Chip shop in Southend, which gets a mention in Pretty Things. Actually, Dannie since you told me that I've had a terrible hankering fro haddock and chips from Toff's, my local award-winning chippie, but I'm trying to be strong and eat lots of vegetables instead.

But there are two points of business I need to clear up. I've mentioned them before but no one took any notice! If you are writing a book report or essay on me, then all the info you need is already online. All you need to do is google my name (in speechmarks) and you'll find everything you want, except my age and marital status because heck, a girl has to retain some mystery. I'm kinda bemused when told that people haven't been to find anything on the interpipe, or maybe they just didn't look! And the other thing is that if you send me a message on MySpace, then I can't reply to you if you'r settings won't accept messages from people you haven't Friended. And I can't Friend you if your settings only accept 'adds' from people who know your last name or your email addy. I'm not ignoring you!

And finally, no one seems to want an end of year mix CD from me. The offer still stands. Two lucky people will get my annual Songs That Have Changed My Life This Year CD that I send out with my Crimbo cards. All you have to do is send me a Christmas message from one of the characters in any one of my books. Make them, funny, thoughtful, creative, whatever and remember to leave your email addy.

Cross-posted at

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lagged of jet

I'm back from NYC and struggling with the dreaded jetlag. I'm going to bed late, really late, like 3.30 am late, not sleeping and then struggling out of bed at lunch-time. Oh dear!

But I had a wonderful time, so different from my London life where I live in jeans and spend most of my time in front of the computer. I went to lots of fashionable restaurants, an Edie Sedgwick book launch (I was obsessed with Edie Sedgwick when I was but a mere slip of a girl) at the swank Gramercy Park Hotel, a shop opening and tried to find the perfect vintage leopardskin coat at the Chelsea Flea Market, Fake leopardskin, I should add.

But mostly I shopped. I shopped and shopped until I could shop no more. I went slightly crazy in Anthropologie at their clearance rails, cleaned Old Navy out of pyjama bottoms and woolly socks and I don't even want to talk about what happened at Marc Jacobs. Though I managed not to buy a very expensive dress. I felt so financially and morally bankrupt that I had to have long walks in Central Park (I was staying at very posh hotel over-looking all the autumn foliage) to cleanse my soul of all the rampant consumerism.

I did also find time to go to Barnes & Noble on Union Square and sign a stack of copies of Let's Get Lost so if you still haven't got a copy and you're in the Manhattan area, that's the place to go.

Now I'm back in London, I should be working hard but actually I seem to be spending most of my time bidding on vintage cake tins on eBay and worrying that I've been contaminated by noxious poison like that Russian spy dude who's just died. Apparently, he lived just down the road from me and I do think I have a bit of a sore throat.

I've started to get the inevitable "will there be a sequel?" questions about Let's Get Lost. You know, in some ways I would love to. Against my better judgement, I re-read the book this week (it's a very painful read for me) to get myself back in the Manning head-space. I did find myself getting all over-excited about Isabel and Smith again but really, it's a complete work. There was the big mystery and the emotional conflict, but it was all resolved! So I don't really think that either of them have a story left to tell, much as I enjoyed writing about them. I'm pretty hardcore about my "no sequels" rules even if my editor (Hi Emily) would love to pin me down and force me to write a Guitar Girl 2, which would certainly not be suitable for teen readers.

But I am all about giving. I really am! And I haven't done a competition for a while. So, it's that time of year when I like to make a little mix CD of my favourite tracks of the year to send out with my Crimbo cards. And two of you could win a copy! All you have to do is write a Christmas message to one of the characters from any one of my books. It can be funny, heartfelt, heck, it could even be in rhyme! And I give top marks for the super-creative! Just leave your message in a comment with your email address and I'll announce the winners really soon.


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What's in a name

Guten tag my little strudels

My contact lenses are giving me grief so I apologise if this post is riddled with typos.

It's been quite a tumultuous week. I'm still reeling from the Britney and k-Fed split, not like it was any surprise. And even more importantly the Roland Mouret 10 dresses went into Gap, while at H&M was the quite wonderful Viktor & Rolf collection. Alas, the Viktor & Rolf pieces seem to have sold out before I could get my hands on them, but truly we live in wonderful times.

I've been super busy writing for British Elle, but I have just started the second draft of the second book in my new series (still not out until Summer 2007 in the UK.) This involves reading the first draft and being pleasantly surprised that it's not quite as craptacular as I thought it was. But mostly, I've been a whirlwind of organisation as I fly to New York next Wednesday for a short holiday, though I will be signing some extra copies of Let's Get Lost in a backroom at Barnes & Noble, Union Square, which will then be available to buy. And shopping. Lots of shopping. Century 21 has already been alerted!

As ever, thanks for your comments, especially your thoughts on Let's Get Lost. Blue Floppy Hat asked if the title was taken from the Elliott Smith song, and actually it came from the original, Chet Baker version. Well, actually that's a little bit of a lie. Originally, many moons ago, when I started writing the book, it was going to be simply called Lost. Fast forward and there just happened to be a rather popular TV show of the same name that started in the meantime. I had lots of ideas as to what to call the book, some of them still scrawled on a Post-it note on my wall (Good, Bad, Whatever…, Crazy Mixed-Up Girl, A House Safe For Tigers) until I realised that Let's Get Lost was perfect. It just seemed to encapsulate Isabel's state of mind and her refusal to face up to what she was really feeling.

I also get asked for information for book reports every now and again. As ever, I just don't have the time to be of much help. One day I will have a proper website with a FAQ and links to all my interviews – or at least update my publisher's micro-site but until then, a simple Google search of my name, will turn up anything that you probably need to know for school assignments. There are quite a few interviews I've done that are up on the interpipe and that's the best way to find them.

Right now, I really need to jump in the shower (just back from the gym) and eat some lunch before my stomach stages a protest and walks to the fridge all by itself.

I won't be able to update next weekend as I'll be in New York, but I'll be in touch soon.


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blow Up!

A cheery top of the morning (or afternoon to be more specific) to you, dear readers

I am freezing. I'm sitting here with my stylin' Marc Jacobs fingerless gloves on as I type this because the central heating has yet to warm up the Arctic conditions in my flat. Despite the fact that I'm fighting a cold, tonight I will be attending a Bonfire and Fireworks Extravaganza at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally as it's known to we North London locals,) to celebrate Guy Fawkes day tomorrow.

Non-British readers may wonder what the heck Guy Fawkes is. But basically he was a dude in doublet and hose who tried to blow up the Houses Of Parliament many centuries ago in some international master-spy plot. (Obviously I'm paraphrasing here.) He got caught and in an ironic move ended up getting burnt himself. Guy Fawkes Day teaches British children that it is neither big nor clever to stand in the way of democracy by trying to blow up Parliament. Also that burning effigies of people in big bonfires and letting off fireworks that scare household pets is cool. And this paragraph is why I will never attempt to write a historical novel.

Anyway, Let's Get Lost is finally out in North America. Hurrah! I have no idea how it's being received (apart from a few lovely comments on this blog and MySpace.) If you feel inclined, reviews posted at Amazon and Barnes & Noble are always welcome. I will be interested to see how it's received, as American reviewers tend to fixate on how much alcohol my characters consume. While I would never condone underage drinking, it's legal to buy alcohol at 18 in the UK and I have a theory that people always start doing things about three years before they're legally allowed to. Not that I did. I was a paragon of teen virtue.

As well, as working hard on my new series – the first book has been copy-edited and we're just finalising the cover and the second book is almost finished – I'm writing a couple of articles for British ELLE and getting ready to visit NYC in a few days. Mainly for the purposes of shopping, and hanging out with one of my dearest friends who currently lives there.

Right now I need to transcribe an interview tape (which is the most loathsome bit about being a journalist) and make a huge vat of chicken soup to see off my sore throat.

I hope you are all wrapping up warm and remembering to wear a hat when you go out.


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to A cheery top of the morning (or afternoon to be more specific) to you, dear readers

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lost in music

Salutations, my sweets!

I guess that some of you may be reading this blog for the first time, having found the address in the back of my new book, Let's get Lost. In which case, I say welcome! I try to update my blog weekly-ish with news, views and lots of ungodly whining.

And really, that's the main theme at the moment. Let's Get Lost goes on sale in North America (which includes Canada, yes?) tomorrow. And you should all go and buy it because it will change your lives in a myriad of amazing ways. Blah blah blah. Being British, I find the hard-sell a bit unseemly, so instead I will direct you to a little added value post I wrote for my Amazon plog, where I shared the playlist I listened to while I was writing the book. This is something I always try to do as a mood-shifter, a source of inspiration and a way of getting inside my character's head. I'm not saying that Isabel would know or even like all of these songs, but some of them are just so her. And certainly, she knows, loves and constantly listens to Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl by Broken Social Scene.

So, without further ado,

Broken Social Scene - Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl

Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes

Belle And Sebastian - Expectations

Ladytron - Seventeen

Blondie - Rip Her To Shreds

Camera Obscura - Suspended From Class

The Shins - Caring Is Creepy

Black Box Recorder - Rock 'n' Roll Suicide

Bright Eyes - Travellin' Song

Tindersticks - Tiny Tears

Thelma Houston - Crazy, Mixed-Up Girl

(Most of these fine recordings are available on iTunes and they're well worth checking out.)

You may want to actually follow this link to the Amazon plog because I did a nifty little website link for each artiste, because it was one click html coding. If I tried to do that here, my brain would explode.

In other news, I've just finished the first draft of the second book in my new series. The final draft of the first book is still in its padded envelope staring balefully at me, while I try to ignore it. Have I really talked about drafts? Would you like me to? What else would you like to know?

Finally, I'd like to say a big, shiny thank you to all the people who left comments in the lost post at blogspot – that's ,Caitlin, devann-dianna, madisonxxx, Caitlin (again?!) sarab3, Victoria, fairuh, lucy, and sinead – I'm really glad that the books meant so much to you.

OK, I need to go to the post office and drink more coffee.

Live on

Sarra x
(cross-posted to

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Give me the ability to rage correctly...

Sunny afternoon greetings, gentle readers

But though the sun is shining (which makes a change round London town), I have dark clouds in my heart. Nothing too serious though I am incandescent with rage at the curtains and blinds department of John Lewis in Brent Cross Shopping Centre. I had to leave a very angry message on someone's answerphone, which did contain the phrase, "It beggars belief, quite frankly." When I'm incandescent with rage, I turn into Joyce Grenfell who none of you will know because you're too young and/or not British.

My other journey into angst is because the last four chapters of my current book (nope, still can't reveal any details, but I'm on the second one in a four volume sequence) have been scrapped. I got back from Florence, read them and realised that I was quite possibly insane. Joking aside, I think it's worth mentioning the Holy Grail that is the chapter by chapter outline. I plan one out in laborious detail before I write a book, which isn't to say that I never deviate along the way. But this is the ninth or tenth book I've written and I still get over-excited about some minor story arc, forget my plot outline, beaver away, and then have to junk the lot because it's doing nothing to further the plot. If you trawl back through the archives on you will find even more words of wisdom on plot outlines.

Let's Get Lost is coming out in hardback in the US and Canada on 19th October. Remember that date, put it in your Blackberries and then take the necessary action on that day. As ever, I can't wait to hear what you think of it. And if no tears are shed while reading it, then I've failed miserably!

And one last thing, a little book rec. I'm reading But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn, a memoir froma writer who used to work for Rolling Stone. As well as being funny as anything, she has lots and lots of tips on interviewing celebrities. I know a lot of you aspire to becoming journalists and this book is well worth a read. Not many of us will ever get to interview Brad Pitt or Madonna, but there's lots of good advice to take away from the book. My own journalistic career is ticking along and if you buy the current issue of British Elle (with Jordan on the cover), you can read two pieces of mine. One is about learning to knit and the other is about bunny rabbits. Yup, you read that right! I got paid to write about bunnies - it's either one of the best or worst things I've ever written, depending on your politics.

So, that's all that's going on in my world. Be happy, be safe and do not order any blinds from John Lewis in Brent Cross...


Sarra x

(crossposted to

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm alive! Alive, I tell you!

Oh, people

I'm so elusive these days, I know. Apart from a delightful trip to Florence to try on clothes in Zara, rather than looking at paintings of naked cherubim, and eating yummy fruit the size of my head, I haven't been up to much. But alas, my interpipe connection is extremely poorly, nay in a critical condition, and swapping to a new ISP is going to take about a month.

In the meantime a huge backlog of emails and messages are building up and it's all very vexing. But some not so good news, I've just found out that my new new book, the first volume in a four part series, won't be out in the UK until July 2007. Ignore what it says on UK Amazon. Let's Get Lost is still out in the US and Canada at the end of this October and you can pre-order it on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

One last thing before I'm cruelly cut off. Katie on MySpace I did get your message but then it disappeared and I completely agree with you about the DOAC thing but don't tell anyone that I did. And also, MySpace peeps, if you send me a message I can't reply to it or add you to my friends list if your MySpace is set up so you don't accept messages or adds from people who aren't your friends. Just so you know!

And yes, I did enjoy Little Miss Sunshine (didn't love it, but I'm all about the beauty pageants!)

Live on

Sarra x

(cross-posted to

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It'll change your life, I swear

Hello, gentle readers

My interpipe connection is wigging out in a quite spectacular fashion, while my broadband is upgraded. It's a cause of much vexation. So I'm going to post this in one of the rare seconds when I am actually online.

It's actually probably quite good that I can't while away many hours on the internet as I'm going to Florence for a little holiday the week after next and have made myself a solemn vow that I will have the first draft of the second book in the series (that I still can't tell you anything about) finished. By the way, does anyone know how to say, "I have a severe allergy to mustard" in Italian?

In the meantime, the current issue of British ELLE has an interview I did with Drew Barrymore and another interview of mine with Jonathan Rhys Meyer, if you're desperate for a Manning fix!

So, I haven't done this for a while but I thought I'd share a few of my favourite current things.

I'm listening to…

The Kids At The Club a superb indie pop compilation that you should all go out and buy. Right the hell now. I particularly love Lucky Soul, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Irene and I'm sure you will too!

I'm watching…

Bones which is a slightly icky series about a forensic anthropologist who does revolting things with decomposed remains to find out how they died. It stars David Boreanaz who I never fancied in the slightest in all my years watching Buffy and Angel but I will admit to the teensiest crush on him in this show. A word of warning: not to be watched while you're eating dinner.

I'm reading…

Fabulous Nobodies by Lee Tulloch – actually I'm re-reading it for the gazillionth time. I read this book years ago about a girl who has a closet full of fabulous vintage frocks who talk to her. She works as a door whore in New York, has a gay best friend and a crush on a suave man who also dresses beautifully. OK, it's not War And Peace but it's a really special book that languished in obscurity but has now been reissued. British girls, you'll have to order it from Amazon because it's only been re-issued in the States. (I love it so much that for years I'd buy up copies on eBay to give to my friends!

And that's the current state of me.

As ever, the disclaimer that I'm now adding to tbe bottom of every post: No more Diary Of A Crush books, like, ever!

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, September 02, 2006

No sir, I don't feel like dancing

Greetings girliea

Ah, the sun is but a dim and distant memory; it's grey and cold and all the delicious new autumn fashions are in the shops. Hurrah!

Because I spend most of my time in front of dark!Wes, my computer, I tend to live in jeans and a collection of faded logo retro tees but I'm coveting and even buying some fabulous frocks at the moment. And slouchy boy trousers. And I'm still loving polka dots and always will. In other style news, I have decided to stop straightening my hair after many years and I'm learning to love my curls.

On the writing front, I'm two thirds of the way through the first draft of the second book in my new series. It's still known as Untitled Sarra Manning series but I hope to be able to give you all the juicy details in a few weeks. I'm also doing a lot of freelance writing at the moment, mainly because I had a humungous tax bill come through and I want to go to New York in October and do some serious damage in the Marc by Marc Jacobs shop on Bleecker Street. Alas, his beautiful main range is too rich for my tastes.

I'm getting a lot of email requests for biographical information for school projects. Everything you need to know, or that I'm happy for you to know(!), is out there on the interpipe. Just type "sarra manning" (don't forget the speech marks) into a google search and you should find everything you could ever want to know. Except my age, my weight and my secret fears. A girl has to retain some mystery!

Also, I am obsessed with the new Scissor Sister single. But I always feel like dancing – especially when no-one else is watching…

As ever, the disclaimer that I'm now adding to tbe bottom of every post: No more Diary Of A Crush books, like, ever!

(Cross-posted to

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Covers and movies...

Hello Kitty-kats

Well, I'm back - did you miss me? Thank you for all your birthday wishes and condolences. It's been a very hard week, but now it's time to put on my brightest smile and get back into the fray.

I notice that on some of my Amazon reviews and in your comments, you ask about movie adapatations of my books. Sadly, the fact that I would LOVE someone to make a film of Guitar Girl or any of them, really, my wishing isn't enough to make it happen. Luckily, I have a great agent with a large film and TV department who send out my books to various studios and production companies. They will look at my books to see if they're able to make the transition to the big screen and fit in with any of their current projects or interests. But until then, all I can do is keep my fingers (and toes and any other available limbs) crossed. What I do know is it's a long, complicated process that doesn't always result in a finished movie being shown at the local multiplex.

What else? The US version of let's Get Lost is now available for pre-order at and It's not actually available to buy until October 20th but I thought I'd give you a sneak preview of the cover. I worked really closely with my US publishers on various looks and even clothes that captured the book and the character of Isabel, LGL's anti-heroine.

Let's Get Lost - US edition

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And for interested parties, this is the British cover, illustrated by the ever wonderful Ray Smith. Ray also did the UK cover of Pretty Things and this picture first appeared in The Guardian Weekend Magazine where my UK publishers and I fell in love with it and begged to be able to use it for the book.

Let's Get Lost - UK edition

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They're very different covers, but I think they both work visually to give the reader an idea of what they'll find when they open the book. I love them both, but for very different reasons.

And now for the disclaimer that I am going to add to tbe bottom of every post from now on: No more Diary Of A Crush books, like, ever!

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Owing to my birthday and now a family bereavement, I haven't been able to post recently. Hope to resume normal service soon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A room with a view...

I managed not to update last week, mainly because I was buried under freelance commissions that had to be in for Monday morning. Being a writer is one of those jobs where inevitably you always have to hand something in on Monday morning and can never shake that 'back to school' feeling on a Sunday night.

I've started the second book in my four book sequential series and that's ticking along in a fun way. I love having a character mapped, the plot all figured out and then when you start writing, the girl you've created decides that she's in charge and does and says things you never imagined. So I'm busy with that and while it's early days with the second book, I am doing quite a few pieces for various magazines, mostly British ELLE because we have a mutal love thing going on.

So, I've also been looking at the comments you've left and I feel the need for some numbered points:

1. There is NEVER going to be a fourth Diary Of A Crush book. I've explained the reasons why in a couple of posts and I'm sorry but I have nothing new to add! The last book ended where it was meant to end, and I honestly believe that I left Edie and Dylan in a good place. I will add that it was left wide open for Grace to pick up the Diary torch but that's because DOAC started as a column in a teen magazine and for the last year or so, Grace actually took over the Diary Of A Crush column. But that doesn't mean that there's going to be a Grace DOAC book. I have so many other stories that I want to tell!

2. Lots of people are asking for writing help and tips.

I have made a few posts on this topic but I think this one is probably the most helpful.

What I plan to do over the next month or so is compile a writing FAQ and post it at my official microsite, so I'll let you know when it goes up.

3. I'm afraid that I no longer put my email address in books and don't personally answer emails anymore. What you will get is a very long, very detailed email answering the most common questions I get and advising you to visit either my blogspot page or myspace. I just don't have the time to answer letters any more and have had so many bad experiences, from people being very abusive about not getting a personalised reply to being added to address books and getting tons of junk email and spam email.
I also don't ever use IM in any shape or form. I don't belong to BeBo or any of the other network sites, apart from MySpace so please don't send me invites to join them.

Christ, I sound like such a curmudgeon! Time for a change of pace so I thought it might be fun to post pictures of my study so you can see the room where I write my books and spend most of my time.

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The Place Where The Clutter Lives

The library, the study, the office - call it what you will; this is the messiest room in the house and also where I probably spend the most time. I like being surrounded by over three decades worth of books, records, magazines, videos and huge amounts of paper. You can just see my polka dot Marc Jacobs bag by my chair!

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Starfleet Command

The very desk that I'm sitting at now. Note the heaps of stuff on the printer and scanner, which have never been operational. Plus the pink Post-It notes liberally scattered everywhere so I don't forget those occasional flashes of inspiration.
The actual desk is a 50's kitchen table I found in a junk shop and over the chair is my favourite cardigan. There is now a picture on the wall (The Great Bear by Simon Patterson) but this is pretty much it.

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Music And Bags

This is the CD part of the room, plus a mound of bags on the floor; you can just make out an Orla Kiely nestling on top. Plus loads of mess piled on the filing cabinet. That's my favourite red cardigan. It exactly matches my lippy!

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Ladder Of Success

Videos in the foreground and to the left, my DVDs, plus a general melange of folders, medicines and crap I don't know what to do with. Oh, yes and a ladder, How else do you think I reach the very top shelves?

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Books, Books And More Books

Most of the study is covered in these purpose built shelves I had a posh lady carpenter make to my specific requirements. This is part of the book section with a stoopid cardboard vampire standing watch over them.

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And There's More...

Even more books. Plus my collection of metal lunchboxes and cocktail accoutrements.

So, don't believe anyone when they tell you that mess gets in the way of the creative process. It just isn't true!

Anyway, I'm off to watch Big Brother now...

Live on

Sarra x

(Crossposted to

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Praise be!

Hello pop tarts

I emailed off the final draft of my book on Thursday night. Apart from a bit of line editing, i do believe that it's done. Of course, if the Powers That Be demand another draft, then I may well cry real tears. So, I did what any other writer in my situation would do and yesterday I started book two. (I'm writing a sequential series of four books and, no, I'm still not allowed to divulge any details.)

I know myself well enough that if I do take a break, then it can be weeks before I get my writer thing going again, so I'm busy polishing off my very detailed chapter-by-chapter synopsis and doing lots of research. Research that involves watching DVDs of The Simple Life, Olsen twin movies and watching Tiara Girls (I am so obsessed with that show. I love that the girls they feature never win any of the pageants that they enter!) and Australia's Next Top Model and Canada's Next Top Model. Yup, my love affair with the Next Top Model franchise knows no geographical boundaries. It's a sickness, I tell you!

One of the reasons for my writerly dedication is that it would be quite nice to actually have a holiday at some point in the next few months. Maybe Majorca for a week and definitely a trip to NYC which is my second favourite place on earth. Obviously London can never be bettered. And now that deadlines are a bit more relaxed, I can have a social life again. I see lots of hanging out with my friends and cinema going in my immediate future. Tomorrow, I'm seeing the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie - though I'm more of a Johnny Depp girl than an Orlando admirer.

And right now, the sun is shining and it seems a pity to be stuck indoors so I'm off to make the most of it.

Live on

Sarra x

Saturday, July 08, 2006

These dark days of the soul...

Oh dear. I overslept big-time this morning. Until 11.30. And I can't really say that I'm raring to go and ready to take on the world. In fact, I'd rather just go back to bed.

You see, I'm at that stage with my new book where the finishing line is clearly in sight but my legs have turned into two unwieldy things that won't keep me upright. I'm fixing my plotholes, amping up my emotional tipping points, changing the order that things occur and then changing them back again and trying to do something, anything with my limp, final chapter. At the same time, I feel like I can hardly bear to open up Microsoft Word and get to work. These are dark days, people.

So, before I get back to the coalface of teen fiction, I'll say thanks for all your messages and comments. I know I'm being very lame at the moment and not posting any fun stuff or getting it together to reply to many comments but normal service will be resumed on that happy day that I email off my final doc to my editor!

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Podcasts, sequels and sea-salt scrubs

There is no better feeling in the world that coming home from the gym on a hot day, all sweaty and rank, and jumping in a shower. I'm exfoliated, moisturised, fake-tanned and letting my hair dry in the breeze from the open windows. I love being a girl!

So, the first important thing I have to tell you is that my first podcast is now online. I can't bear to listen to it all the way through as my voice sounds urgh! Though my father assures me that it doesn't sound like me at all, but that could be because I'm not saying, "I was all, like, whatever", every five seconds. What I never realised though is that I start every sentence with the word, "So…".

I'll also share a couple of funny things about the extracts that I'm reading from. The Diary Of Crush extract was going swimmingly until I suddenly found myself reading out loud a whole kissing with tongues passage that was beyond embarrassing. And as I started the second extract from Let's Get Lost, I saw the word "bastard" in the middle of a paragraph. I knew that I couldn't say it out loud and offend delicate ears (I've had vitriolic emails about the foul language in my official bounce back email just for the word "pissed.") I carried on reading but all I was aware of was the b-word getting nearer and nearer. Luckily at the last moment I managed to find a substitute word!

The podcast is here if you want to give it a listen!

The second important thing is that Diary Of A Crush is out in the States now and I'd love to say a big hello to new friends and readers who are here for the first time. I'm slightly overwhelmed by the amount of emails and messages I'm getting. I'm so pleased that Edie and Dylan are finding new fans and that the books are just British enough for you guys!

The thorny topic of a fourth DOAC book is the main question I'm getting. There isn't going to be one, I'm afraid. I've explained why, as best as I can, in a previous post, which you can read here:

Diary Of A Crush I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life

But I'd also like to say that all my books have slightly messy, ambiguous endings. I like it that way. That's how life goes; nothing is ever wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow.

I doubt I would ever write a big, never-ending series of books as I'm just not wired that way. Even at the moment as I'm writing a sequential series of four books, each volume works as a standalone novel. I have so many stories inside me that I want to write and that I want you to read so I'm always looking forward, rather than going backwards to stories and characters that have already had their say.

Finally, I'm hearing rumblings that the third and final book in the DOAC trilogy, Sealed With A Kiss isn't being stocked by Barnes & Noble. If you're having trouble getting hold of a copy, could you let me know and I'll pass the info on to the relevant peeps?

Right, I'm off now. I have a barbecue to get pretty for. There probably won't be an update next Saturday as I'll be away on a hen weekend in the Cotswold. I will just leave you with a beauty tip. Always exfoliate by putting your scrub/exfoliator on DRY skin. Yes, I know the instructions say that you should put it on wet skin and yes, I know it hurts a little, but trust me – your skin will be silky smooth and besides, beauty costs…


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Insert amusing subject line right here...

I'm posting because I try to post every Saturday but I'm afraid I have nothing much to report.

My deadlines have been pushed up so I'm racing to try and get the second draft of my new book (which I'm still not allowed to tell anyone about) done for early next week. The good news is that I had a breakthrough moment at precisely 11.56 pm on Wednesday night and the book actually has proper plot points and an emotional resolution now. All good things. The bad news is that this is the not so fun part of being a writer; where you're fighting the clock and your own little, nagging voice of doubt, which is trying to persuade you to curl up on the sofa and watch telly instead of getting to the end of the next scene.

So, this is just a brief intermission to let you guys know what's happening in my world this week. Would it be boring to plug the US release of the Diary Of A Crush trilogy again? Probably but, hey, go and buy them!

OK, chapter whatever (this is how they are listed in the draft as I can't keep track of the numbers) beckons...

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Come on, England!

I'm a very bad person. I will not be watching England vs Paraguay in the World Cup, in favour of slaving away on the revisions for my new opus. Which have reached the excruciating "My God, why am I doing this?" stage. But all the windows are open so if England score, I'm confident that I will hear a roar rise up from the streets.

It's very hot here. After weeks of whining about how cold and damp it is, I now feel duty bound to moan about the sunny skies and the ever increasing temperature. But there are reasons to cheer!

Diary Of A Crush went on sale in the US a couple of days ago so I'd like to say a big howdy to new readers who are here via the link in the books. If you haven't bought them yet, then I implore you to go now to your nearest book emporium and purchase them. They're all cute-sized paperbacks and won't break the bank.

And for the benefit of UK readers, I thought I'd post the US covers, which are very different to the UK ones. I think I might actually like them more. Possibly. But don't quote me on that!

Diary Of A Crush 1: French Kiss

Diary Of A Crush 2: Kiss And Make Up

Diary Of A Crush 3: Sealed With A Kiss

Though I'm bracing myself for a veritable slew of "But when is Book 4 coming out?" emails, I can't wait to hear what you think of them. And remember, nothing says you care more than posting a review at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

The only thing left to do is to send out positive thoughts and good wishes to anyone who's neck deep in exams and cramming at the moment.

This post officially sponsored by the fungal infection under my right, big toenail. Ewww!

(Cross-posted to

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Here's One I Made Earlier

This is really a drive-by post with a little compendium of favourite things I compiled earlier in the week. I have a friend staying from New York so I've actually taken the weekend off from writing (don't tell my editor) to make the most of the glorious weather.

Yesterday I walked over seven miles taking in the green and rustic charms of Highgate and Hampstead and today, we hang out on the South Bank and visited the Tate Modern, which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places on earth.

And now I'm about to soak my aching tootsies so I leave you with all the stuff that's getting me through the fraught and tricksome second draft. Thank goodness for distractions!

(Also I know I need to post a lot of replies to comments, but time keeps running away from me. I will do my best to try to address them next week. I really will!)

I'm reading

The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice - This is such a sweet book (the pages are pink!) set in the 1950's about a girl who lives in a big, crumbling house, is obsessed with a popstar called Johnnie Ray and has her life changed when she meets the irrepressible Charlotte and her cousin Harry. It really reminds me of two of my favourite books, Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford and I Capture The Castle by Dodie SMith, which is definitely on my list of top five favourite books of all time. You have to read it! The last page always makes me weep every time.

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan by Lisa See - I picked this for our book group to read and it's one of those birth to death stories set in China about 150 years ago about two girls who grow up together. It was a beautiful story but the descriptions of foot-binding are beyond gross. Ick!

I'm listening to

Lets Get Out Of The Country by Camera Obscura - This is their new album, which isn't out yet but one of my friends is their publicist so I got an early copy. It's gorgeous. A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll and a girl who sings the saddest songs in the saddest chords. My favourite track right now is probably Country Mile.

Cannibal Sea by The Essex Green - TEG were one of my discoveries of a couple of years ago when I picked up thei second album, The Long Goodbye. They don't really sound like anyone else, but this is music for late nights, dark rooms and mix tapes that you send your ex boyfriend to explain why he was wrong to ever let you go.

Lucky Soul - I'm a huge fan of 60's girl groups like The Shangri Las, The Ronettes and Pixies Three. My friend NK introduced me to Lucky Soul, from Britain who are taking up the torch and they make these great tear-drenched ballads or dizzy, big sound pop numbers that you can "sha la la la" to. They are a gazillion times better than The Pipettes who aren't fit to wear polka dots! You can check out some of Lucky Soul's songs here But can I just say that if you like their songs, please pay to download them from iTunes because small bands need all the money they can get!

I'm watching

Nick And Jessica - Newlyweds

I never saw it on when it was on the telly so now I'm mainlining the DVDs in almost disbelief. My God, I thought I whined a lot but Jessica Simpson has me beat. And I actually liked Nick Lachey more than I thought I would. It's sad though that I know that they're going to split up so watching Season 3 is particularly poignant as you can see the cracks!

Grey's Anatomy

Did the entire two series in a fortnight and now I'm jonesing for my next fix, which is weird as there's absolutely nobody I fancy in this show. Especially not McDreamy. (Though I would hate anyone to think that I'm so shallow that I only watch TV shows that feature good-looking popsies.


I started re-watching it last night, mainly because I want Mr Vaughn to be my Baby!Daddy. (Maybe I actually am that shallow!)

I'm also

Thinking about getting a new dog

Either a miniature Schnauzer or a Cockapoo

Learning to knit

I've almost finished making the longest scarf in the world, and I only dropped about five stitches. I have a feeling this will be my new obsession. I'm already thinking about taking a class so I can learn to knit on circular needles and make a hat with ears.

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Love in a freezing cold climate...

I can't believe that June is only three days away. London is wet and grey and I'm really going to have to turn the central heating on after I've finished my blogging duties.

It's been a busy week. On Tuesday I was involved in two events as part of the Birmingham Young Readers' festival. I took part in a live debate in the morning - I was speaking for the motion that Text Speak Is Destroying the Engligh Language and lost, but I was blown away by all the schools who took part. I was shaking so hard I could hardly hold my microphone, but the teenagers who came on stage to speak for and against the motion were confident and articulate and impressed the hell out of me. And hi to Bethany and her friends!

I've also learnt to knit this week. I've been wanting to learn for years and I knew the only way I'd get round to it was to have a deadline. I'm so goal-orientated! So I pitched a feature about knitting to a magazine and was then told I had four weeks to knit "a really long scarf." I'm also writing something that may never see the light of the day and my main protagonist is a passionate knitter so it was a good way of getting inside her head. It was all going horribly wrong, I couldn't even cast on and then yesterday I had a crash course in the basics from a friend who used to be a knitwear designer. Now I can cast on, cast off, do knit stitch and purl and add in new colours of yarn. I think I might be hooked!

I also took delivery this morning of a hard copy of the first draft of what will be my new book. I always prefer to read on the page and my little printer certainly can't cope with 322 pages, so my editor prints it out for me so I can scribble all over it and scratch out great chunks with my scary red editing pen. I've got a lot of work ahead of me...

And next week I'll be recording a podcast for my US publisher (note to self: try not to swear!) and I'll give you all the details once it's up on the interpipe. I have a horrible speaking voice. I sound like I'm five!

One last thing, I got a comment from someone (sorry, I can't remember your name) asking if I see the covers of my foreign editions? The answer is no! I have a lot of input and creative involvement with my UK covers, get consulted on my US covers, but my actual foreign editions suddenly arrive on my doorstep and that's the first time I get to see the covers. It's just the way it is!

And actually this really is the last thing, anyone who wants to add me as a friend on MySpace, you don't need to ask, just go ahead! 99.9% of the time I will add you back but MySpace pages that take several millenia to load do make both me and my computer cry!

(Why do I feel the need to end all my paragraphs with an exclamation mark?)

Until next week, my sweets



(cross-posted to

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Oh, how I adore you, Dory Previn...

Salut pop kids!

So, can I just say that excerpt is spelt just like that. Your task for this week is to spell it correctly and use it in at least one email/text/essay/whatever! And yes, there will be more posted in the coming weeks.

In reply to some of your questions:

* The readers event in Birmingham that I'm taking part in on Tuesday is only for pupils in the schools are are participating in the Young Readers Programme, and tickets are all gone now. Sorry.

* There will be no new books from me until Spring 2007 if you live in the UK. I finished the first draft this week and am just psyching myself up for the Herculean task of actually sprinkling on the re-write dust and making it readable! Of course, if you live in the States, you will be getting new books from me as Diary Of A Crush and Let's Get Lost are out in June and October respectively.

* I'm also getting a lot of emails from girls who live in countries where my books aren't available yet. My publishers are working on various deals around the globe, but all my books are available at who ship internationally.

* I'm really glad that I'm no alone in my deep dislike of black cherry and the other red-headed step-children of the yoghurt family. My friend Andrea did turn me on to the hard-to-find pink grapefruit flavour. And I'll always be a slut for raspberry!

In other news, are now rolling out a new authors' area on their site. You can check out my profile and blog right here. It's probably stuff you already know, but, hey, it's worth checking out.

I'm expecting a marked downturn in my productivity levels now that Big Brother has started in the UK. Every year I promise that I won't get sucked in to watching a bunch of sociopathic, exhibitionistic wannabes for 13 weeks, but I always do. Isn't Shahbaz the most annoying man alive. And I want to whack Nicky over the head with her bunny ears.

And now I must go. I have books to write and a Eurovision Song Contest shindig to get pretty for...



(Cross-posted to

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A message from the bunker...


I'm in deep hibernation mode at the moment. I go to the gym in the morning so I don't actually take root behind my desk, then get home and stare at my computer screen for hours. I even write some words! At the moment I'm racing to get the first draft of my new book (part of a four book sequential series) done by about the middle of next week. It's meant to be 65,000 words, but will probably be nearer 75,000 before I start editing and re-writing and cutting huge swathes of it. This means that the DSL cable gets unplugged so I'm not distracted by the interpipe. It's a very solitary existence. I think writing is one of the few occupations where you never get rid of that "I haven't done my homework" feeling.

But as ever, I have stuff to say!

* Thanks for all your comments about the Let's Get Lost excerpt. I always over-write so even though I had to cut about 30,000 words, the book was a lot longer than most teen novels. The 30,000 words didn't really add anything to the story, it was more a case of quantity rather than quality and by cutting out all the extraneous stuff, I think it reads better. I will post a few more excerpts though if you're interested.

* I'd like to officially welcome all my new MySpace buddies! Thank you for all your comments and messages. There's nothing more heart-warming when I'm struggling to write (yesterday I spent three hours on one sentence!) to get a message from one of you. Fr'instance Lauren's comment of yesterday inspired me to bash out another 1000 words, so thanks!

* Both my books and I contain language that some people find offensive. I'm guessing you guys are the same!

* The US editions of Diary Of A Crush are now available to pre-order.

* I'm doing two events at the Birmingham Young Reader's programme on May 23rd. I'm speaking for the motion: Text speak is destroying the English Language for a debate in the morning and then doing a presentation in the afternoon on erm, I think what inspires me. Note to self: Find out for sure. If you're going to be there, please come and say hello. I promise you that my state of nerves will be far worse than yours.

* You all have to go out and buy the new Camera Obscura single, Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken. If you love Belle And Sebastian, then the Cameras will become your new favourite band. I'm going to see them tomorrow night in London and I'm already giddy with excitement.

OK, I have to go now. My goal for today is 5000 words but I'll leave you with my own profound thought of today. Why is it that those four packs of yoghurt always have one flavour that's totally rank? Black Cherry? I'm not feeling it. Mango? Get it out of here.

Apart from that, I got nothing!


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Let's Get Lost - excerpt

I'm behind schedule on my writing, which means I've had to cancel all my plans for the weekend. So instead of a post telling you all of my thrilling adventures in typing, I thought I'd let you read this extract that was cut from the final version of Let's Get Lost. It came in at 20,000 words over, so a lot had to go.

This was a scene with Isabel and her clueless guidance consellor. Hope you enjoy it, even if you haven't read the book yet!

Only two things got me through Friday: Smith's unfeigned delight when I told him that I'd engineered a whole weekend together and the holdall I had stuffed in my locker which contained everything I needed to maintain his delight.

It even got me through another session with Claire who kept prodding and prodding at me as if I was a sleeping dog she was trying to wake up.

Thankfully she'd abandoned her little scheme to have me spilling my guts and copious tears all over her kilim rug and decided to talk about what a mean, old bully I was.

"You seem to have quite a fierce reputation among your peers, why do you think that is," she asked, gimlet eyes fixed steadily on me. I made a mental note to find out if Lily was seeing her too. "Sometimes when people are in pain, they transfer it on to those around them, don't they, Isabel?"

I crossed my legs and tried to decide whether I should wear my vintage little black dress or my other vintage little black dress when we went up to London tomorrow. It was such a tough decision that I could almost tune out the sound of Claire's voice buzzing vaguely around the periphery of my senses.

"… and you wrote such a beautiful essay about The Great Gatsby. Mrs Phillips told me that you have a very advanced understanding of the themes of the novel for your age. You're not immature, Isabel, quite the contrary, so I'd really like to know your thoughts on your behaviour over the last year. What do you think are the underlying reasons for your problems with socialisation?"

I blinked at her. Maybe the silent thing was getting old. And maybe I could befuddle her with some dense psychobabble. Because one thing was for sure, she didn't want to know the truth.

"I guess…" I began uncertainly and she leaned forward with an obscenely eager expression.

"Yes, Isabel?"

"Well, it's like in The Great Gatsby when Nick idealises Daisy as this perfect woman and she isn't. And she didn't ask for it, but she takes advantage of his love all the same. Nobody ever knows what someone else is like. Not really. They just end up projecting all this crap onto the other person, you know?"

Claire was staring at me blankly and it was pretty obvious that she didn't know. She was the Grand Pooba of cluelessness.

"I see," she said, nodding frantically and I stared at the box of tissues and wondered if I could get her to cry. It would be my greatest triumph.

"I don't mean to be rude, but have you actually read The Great Gatsby?"

That stopped her in her tracks. She fingered her spectacles chain and licked her thin lips nervously. "Well, many years ago. Or was that The Fountainhead?"

"The Fountainhead is by Ayn Rand, F Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby," I told her kindly. "They're two completely different books. Gatsby's about the death of the American dream and The Fountainhead is about the theory of objectivism and the strength of the individual. They couldn't be more different," I finished scathingly and I'd missed this.

Before, Dad would pick out novels for me to read, then he'd take me out to Mrs Hudson's on Sydney Street for apple pie and we'd discuss each book in detail. But it had stopped, after Mrs Cohen got all antsy that I was developing too far ahead of the curriculum because God forbid that I should actually be bored in class because I'd read the set text three times before and debated it with a Professor of Literature. And Mrs Hudson's had the best apple pie.

"Goodness, Isabel, you can be quite strident," Claire breathed. "Are you this forceful with your friends? Maybe if you were a little gentler with your opinions, then people would be less intimidated by you."

I think it was that patronising little speech that made me swear a solemn vow that I'd have her crying like a little baby before the end of term.

"Really? Do I come across as intimidating? How weird. Am I intimidating you, Claire? 'Cause if I am, I'm very sorry."

She gave a nervous laugh. "No, of course not. It's lovely to have you participating in the session."


"Why what, Isabel?"

"Why is it lovely to have me participating in the session?" It was a fair question because it wasn't lovely for me. It ranked somewhere below rectal surgery.

It was a totally moot point, which one of us was more relieved when the final bell sounded.

"4 o'clock already?" Claire cried, scooping up her papers and almost falling over her Earth shoes in her haste to put as much distance between us as possible. "Have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you next Friday."

I stayed sitting down long enough for her to start getting this haunted look at the possibility that I might want to stay and chat, before I slowly uncoiled myself out of the chair. Then I sauntered towards the door, taking my sweet time about it and it wasn't until I closed the door behind me that I let myself break into a mad sprint so I could throw my books into my locker, grab my bag and get the hell out of Dodge before The Trio Of Doom caught up with me.

Cross-posted to

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Yes, Lloyd, I'm so ready to be heartbroken...

It's gloriously sunny in London Town. All the windows are open, the first application of Nivea Holiday Sun Body Lotion has gone on to my translucent legs and maybe winter is finally over.

Alas, I spend most of my days chained to my temperamental Mac banging out between 1000 to 3500 words a day, depending on how motivated I can be. I'm now over the halfway hump on the first book of my new series and learning lots og fun facts about the fall of Communism in the former Soviet Union. I can say no more!

What I will say is that I recently did an interview with the Young Scotsman, which you can find here and that you all have to go and download this song because it's adorable.

Oh yes, and the new issue of ELLE UK? The one with Paris Hilton on the cover? I actually went to LA to meet Ms Hilton and write that piece, so you might want to check it out.

Now I'm turning off the computer and going to spend the rest of the weekend hanging with my friends who are starting to think that I've fallen off the edge of the world. So, see you next week.

And remember to wear sun block!


Sarra x

(Cross-posted to

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Every day I write the book...

Happy Easter/Happy Passover Ladies

Though actually I never understood the concept behind Jesus is risen so let's all go and eat eggs made of chocolate. It could be because I'm Jewish or it could be that I don't eat anything made of chocolate, but I just don't understand the connection.

So, I'm slightly mopey on this Sunday afternoon because I have a Pilates-related injury and can't see a blessed thing. I wear these strange contact lenses at night so I can see during the day but lately they've been giving me all kinds of grief. Apparently, I have a problem with my tears. Not the quantity, you understand, as I can weep during a particularly traumatic episode of The OC, but the quality of my tears is shoddy and sub-standard. Hence, Sahara-dry eyes and problems with my special lenses.

I have just completed a gargantuan project to turn the 25,000 words already written of the first book in my new series from the first person to the third person. It might comfort aspiring writers to know that I still suck when it comes to the basic rules of grammar. Tenses confuse me. Like a lot. And I have a post-it note stuck to my computer to remind me of the difference between 'who's' and 'whose'. Today I even got an email from a friend explaining the different between 'she' and 'her'. But I am really good with spelling so I guess it all balances out.

Thanks for all your comments, especially my new friends from My Space. Thanks also for your book recs. I saw Sugar Rush and it was better than the book, which wasn't saying that much and I don't do fantasy, though I met David Almond once and he was a lovely bloke who bought me a drink. At the moment, I have a teetering two piles of books that I'm planning to read. A lot of them are teen titles that I bought as far back as September when I was last in New York, but I never read teen fiction while I'm writing as I'm too aware that I get influenced very easily.

What else? No, no sequels to anything. I do say this every time, but it doesn't seem to be registering. I write a book, tell the story and that's it. Done. Dusted. I'm incredibly flattered that you enjoy the books so much that you want more, but I have so many ideas in my head and I'm rather create new characters and worlds, than revisit old ones. And for advice on writing, it's worth going to and scrolling back through the archive.

One final thing. beyourowngirl, this is your last call! You were the joint winner of the movie cast contest but if you don't leave your email addy in the next week, then you've had it! PennyLane someone from my publisher will be contacting you to get your snailmail addy so they can send on the Let's Get Lost vest.

I hope I don't sound too cranky in this post. Maybe the not eating chocolate is getting to me…


Sarra x

Cross-posted to

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

There's too much love...

Just eating a late lunch and drinking a glass of Welch's grape juice, which has this really gross undertaste of scented erasers. Ick!

Not much to report really. I'm hard at work on the first book in my new four-volume series, which will be published next year and the year after! I'm averaging about 3000 words a day at the moment, which is kinda lame for me but I do faff about a lot on MySpace and sending stupid emails to 6 Music. I'm distracto girl!

I would like to thank everyone who's left comments on blogspot and My Space. It's probably worth repeating to any newcomers that there are NO plans to write sequels to Diary Of A Crush, Guitar Girl or any of my other books. What you've got is what you're going to get, I'm afraid. I'm also quite amused by the reviews for Guitar Girl on that are obsessing about how the book was based on the Sex Pistols, or No Doubt or Babes In Toyland. To which I have to officially say, not even! I was a music journalist for three years and Molly's story is the classic story of any wide-eyed kid that gets thrown into the music industry too far and too fast. Yes, it's easy to read the book and then find a real-life person in a band and draw paralells (hmmm, that's not spelt right) because evil managers and screwed up relationships with other band members and the like happens all the time. Sorry for the rant, but I'm always upfront about my influences and inspirations, and those reviews have really been bugging me.

So because all I do all day is write and not actually have a life, I thought I'd post about a few things I'm into at the moment.

I'm reading...

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

He's such a funny writer and this is the perfect book to read before I snuggle down for the night.

Cooking With Fernet Branca by James somebody or other

I had to read this for my book group and it's awful. Easily on my top three list of worst books I've ever had to read. It has all these reviews on the back about how funny it is. But they lie. Boy, how they do lie!

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

When I was in the States, I did my usual trip to Borders to stock up on interesting looking books - usually teen stuff and books about hipsters who dress really well while they try to find themselves. I picked this up and can't wait to read it.

The Nightwatch by Sarah Waters

I love her books, even though I couldn't finish Affinity because I got too scared.

I'm listening to...

Belle And Sebastian

Mainly because I'm always listening to Belle And Sebastian and their new single is out this week.

My new work-out playlist

Which is all the really fast bits from the last Go!Team and Goldfrapp albums.

The Essex Green - The Cannibal Sea

I heart this band. Gorgeous vocals and they're a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, a little bit magical.

The Priscillas

One of my best friends is in this band (in fact, she's cooking me dinner tonight before she tries to kick my arse in Scrabble.) They have really big hair and they rock. No, my mistake, THEY ROCK!!!!!!!!

I'm watching...

The OC

I'm mid-way through a big project to re-watch every single episode of The O.C because OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seth + Summer 4EVA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


But I might have to give it up because I really do get too frightened . I should probably point out that I'm the most fraidy person in the world. Even a car back-firing in the street sends me into conniptions.

America's Next Top Model

This is my total TV crack. I love this show so much that if it wasn't completely illegal I'd be downloading the newly airing US series off the interpipe. Not that I am because it would be wrong. But, hey, if I was - what is Jade's problem? Qu'elle une bitch!

Veronica Mars

She's my second favourite, tiny blonde ass-kicker after Buffy.

And now I need to get back to my contractually obligated 3000 words. I'm still waiting for the other competition winner (that movie cast promo I ran) to leave me her email. I can't remember your name, but hey, step to it!

This grape juice really is disgusting...

Live on


(cross-posted to

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Calm down, dears

Ladies, please

I'm not going anywhere! I will be cross-posting my blog entries both to blogspot (ie, right here) and MySpace.

Be cool

Sarra x

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Because Friendster is so three years ago...

Yes, my friends I've given into the evil lure of My Space! I had a huge batch of emails forwarded to me by my publishers and I realise that some of you are replying to posts I've made here, and even entering some of the competitions I've run, by email to the books with bite addy. That doesn't actually work so well. If you've received my long 'bounce-back' email you'll know that I can't reply to emails for a variety of reasons.

But I am aware that blogspot can be a bit problematic. Because I was getting so much comment spam, I had to set up this blog so that only people with blogspot membership could reply. Now I'm passionate about blogging but I realise that some of you aren't but it also means that I can't leave comments on your blogs because you've already deleted them.

So, my cunning solution to all of this is to have a My Space page. I'm guessing that a lot of you are on there too and it's much easier to leave comments and Friend people. All the entries I make here will now be cross-posted to My Space and I would love, love, love it if you could come and Friend me and I will Friend you back. The MySpace blog will only be open to people who are on my Friends Space but I think it's a much cooler, user-friendly place than maybe blogspot is.

So, come on. I have to get more Friends that my RL friends, some of whom are in bands!

In other business, I'm sorry but there are no plans for me to travel around the country doing book signings. I'm way low down on the famous author's ladder and it would cost more to stick me on a train, then the booksellers would get back from people buying books for me to sign. It's a sad but true state of affairs. I will be doing a whole day at the Birmingham Young Readers Week on Tuesday 23rd, so if you're from Brum and your school wants to know if you're interested in any events going on, sign up! I'm taking part in a debate about text speak (so very against it!) in the morning and then in the afternoon I'm giving a talk about what inspires me. Y'know, the usual, The OC blah blah blah, My So-Called Life blah blah blah. You can pretty much guess what I'll say!

Also, illnevertell, I might be able to do an interview via email. Possibly. Have you got an URL for the e-zine?

And now I need to get back to that difficult chapter four.




Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'm in love with illusion, so saw me in half...

Salut, mes petites cheres

Finally I'm home from my travels and hopefully staying put in London for a while so I can get on with the book writing. I really hope to be able to tell you officially and properly about my new project soon. I'm very excited about it.

Paris was wonderful. It was a real thrill to go to FNAC (the French version of Borders) and see Diary Of A Crush (or Journal d'un Coup de Foudre as it's known over there) on the shelves, as well as meeting my French publishers and some readers at the Salon du Livre event. Not so fun was throwing up in a Parisian street - I suffer from really bad food allergies to some quite obscure ingredients and after being taken out for l'experience gastronomique, I was knocked for six. It was beyond embarassing.

At the moment I have a friend from LA staying and it's been wonderful to see London as a tourist. We went on the Highgate Cemetary Tour (which is very near where I live and if any of you ever come to London, I implore you to wander around the overgrown grounds and marvel at the magnificient mausoleums.) We also shopped because a week without a visit to Dorothy Perkins (it's the new Topshop) is a week wasted. Then tomorrow we're off for a bit of culture and will visit the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. But mostly today I slumped in Carphone Warehouse, signing half my life away so I could get my hot hands on the new Nokia Chic phone because it's gold and it has pretty flowers on it and I'm such a girl.

Anyway, from next week, there should be the resumption of normal service round these parts. But while I've been away, you lot have certainly been busy! What a veritable slew of comments. So, please try and bear with me as I reply to them here and I will be trying to leave a few comments in your blogs over the next few days too.

So, firstly thanks to everyone who've left comments about Let's Get Lost especially Ellie (I'm afraid I haven't got time to give you any specific writing tips but if you have a poke through my blog archives, I did write a long post on this very topic.) Thanks also to Beth, the eloquent miss_teen_angst and Michelle and yes, the film Virgin Suicides, which came out quite a few years ago now, is based on the book of the same name and actually you've inspired me to re-watch it this weekend. And extra special thanks to Abby - I'm always on the lookout for new bands to fall in love with so I will definitely check out both your blog and your recs. And re: Dylan? They do? Then my work here is done!

And now the results of the film cast competition! Thank you to everyone who entered. Your responses made me smile and in a couple of instances, actually squeak in horror! For what it's worth, I'm impressed at your choices as I couldn't think of anyone who'd I cast as everytime the subject comes up I have such a clear idea of what my characters look like, I get quite side-tracked. The only person that was based on a character from TV was Isabel's Dad who was inspired by the dour and dark Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from the TV show, Angel, but from the later seasons when he was all conflicted and stubbly. Just so you know! Anyway, the winners, after much deliberation are...


I really was taken with the notion of Emily Browning (who I loved in the Lemony Snickert movie) as Molly and I was re-watching an episode of The OC this lunch-time and swooning over the actor who plays Trey!


Again, I adore Evan Rachel Wood for not fitting the mould of most young Hollywood actresses, James Franco is possibly too good-looking to play Smith but he is a fox and you got extra points for Michelle Trachtenberg as Ice Princess is one of my guilty pleasures!

If you haven't left me your email addy, then leave me a comment so I can get your address and limited edition LGL vests will be winging their way to you.

I am going to run another competition with more vest giveaways in the next week or so, so don't be disheartened. And thanks again, to everyone who entered.

Now I think dinner is almost ready and I want to watch Veronica Mars so I bid you au revoir!


Sarra x

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Writer sans borders...

Just poking my head round the door before I leave to catch the Eurostar to say hi. LA was a blast and I'll post about that soon but I just wanted to remind les jeunes filles francais that I'll be doing a signing on Saturday morning at the Salon de Livre in Paris, please come and say, "Bonjour!"

And keep those competition entries coming. So far your answers have thrilled and horrified me in equal measure!

Au revoir

Sarra x

Saturday, March 04, 2006

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

Hello pretty things

Writing this at twice the speed of light because I need to jump in the shower and wash off the gym sweat. I have a friend coming over this evening and there will be fish and chips with so much vinegar on them that it will hurt to eat them. There'll be some DVDs, possibly It Happened One Night and lots of wine, as I'm well over the legal drinking age! Ah, sleepovers never stop being fun.

So, before I say anything else, I just wanted to say a big thank you to HeartsOnFire and i'llnevertell for the beautiful comments about Let's Get Lost that you left on my last entry. I was deeply touched and also blushed a little. As I keep saying, it's a hugely personal book for me so I really appreciate it when it strikes such a resonant note with other people.

Now, I've been promising you a competition and I always try to keep my promises. My publishers have given me three very limited edition Let's Get Lost vests to give away. They're black, rather on the small side, with the cover image on them. To win one leave a comment telling me who you'd cast if you were making a movie from one of my books. Not just the boy and girl but any of the supporting characters too. Think about it because the prizes will go for the most original or interesting answers. And nobody is allowed to say that Adam Brody should play Smith! And don't forget to leave an email addy so I know where to contact you.

I'm afraid that I might not be able to update next Saturday as I'll be in LA interviewing someone for ELLE UK. But I might see if I can get access to a computer so one of my blog entries can be from somewhere glamorous! Then I'm in Paris after that. It all sounds impossibly cool I know, but not so much really. Especially as I spend most of my time in old jeans and a holey jumpers tapping away on my computer instead of going out and having adventures.

I'm now hard at work on my first book in a four book series. It's starting to come together, though a lot of what I'm writing now will probably get scraped as it's more important at this stage to just get the right voice going. But, hey, look how much I've written!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9,198 / 65,000

Love you, mean it!

S x

Saturday, February 25, 2006

He likes to read books written for girls...

Salut, ma petits anges...

I'm practising for my trip to Paris. My first ever press trip where I'll be doing a bunch of interviews (with a translator because I think doing an interview is a bit more hardcore than ordering une verre du vin blanc, s'il vous plait) and appearing at Salon de Livre on Saturday March 18th to do a signing. If any of you happen to be in Paris then, please come along!

In other news, I've now started writing my next book. In fact, I've written 5003 words exactly. It won't be out until next year and it's the first novel in a four book series. I think it's safe to tell you that, though unfortunately I can't go into more detail as yet. What I can tell you is that you'll get three books from me next year and the last book in the series at the beginning of 2008. If I stick to my deadlines. But as I'm pretty goal orientated I'm hoping that won't be a problem.

And of course, Diary Of A Crush and Let's Get Lost will be out in the States in June and um, October respectively.

But if you're missing my 'bitching' prose style (yes, those were sarcastic quote marks), I do write a monthly column for British ELLE, as well as various features for them. And there's a review and a short interview with me at the end of it, here: Please follow the exact link (you'll have to cut and paste it), otherwise you'll end up on a porn site!

So, onto your questions:

girl_with_the_most_cake: The LGL preview is a PDF file. I'm on a Mac so it just opens immediately but you might need to open the PDF application and then manually open the LGL chapter in that. I hope that makes sense. As far as I know there are no plans, as yet, to preview DOAC. That would be up to my US publishers.

Paint_box_pastel: Hopefully I've already answered most of your questions. You can find out more about the mysterious Emily Strange at Google is our friend!

So, that's it from me this week. I love that I'm sticking to my weekly updates

Live on

Sarra x

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You Are What You Love...

Hello my little zabagliones...

The state of the Manning at this time on a Saturday is hungover and aching. We had a little Ellegirl reunion last night, which incidentally was probably one of the happiest periods of my life when I was shut in a room for six months, with some of my favourite people in the world, working on the first issue. There was much wine and reminiscing last night and I remember managing to set fire to the leather wallet that the check came in but after that it's all a blur. Then this morning I started on the running machine and weight reps at the gym and am in a thousand agonies. I'm fit for nothing, I tell you. Nothing!

So, I want to thank dreamer, Natasha, Stacey, Ellie, mutilated_bliss (I hope that's not your real name!) and Le-anne for being so effusive in your praise of Let's Get Lost. I'm still getting a real kick out of seeing it on the shelves in the various bookshops I've been in to and then re-arranging it into a more prominent position. I think all authors do that and if they say they don't, then they have to be lying!

Stacey - I know there are glitches on the microsite but thank you for pointing that one out because it had escaped me. They promise that they're working to fix it.

Le-anne - I think Nina meant to post your wonderful review at my microsite, although the automated star-letter thingy doesn't seem to be working.

Princess-rosie - Gosh I can't even remember what I was listeneing to when I wrote LGL. But I was definitely listening to Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People, which is why Anthems For The Seventeen Year Old Girl because the theme tune for the book. I was listening to a lot of emo stuff though; Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse etc. Seth Cohen and I share the same record collection.

girl-with-the-the-most-cake - I was planning to give away a couple of signed copies of the book but now I'm hoping to get a couple of promo items from my publishers instead, which you won't be able to buy in the shop. Watch this space! And I got spoiled for this series of ANTM so I know who wins. Glad it wasn't that awful pageant girl who refused to cut her hair or Lisa who bugs me in a really special way. You're getting the new series this week, which I'm so jealous about!

lady_julieanne - I posted the CDs on Thursday night so they should be turning up imminently. And I'll let graceofmyheart go but I know for a fact that anyone who has the email cutiesnowgirl has to have got it from DOAC because it was an obscure in-joke between me and my friend, Sarah. Kinda funny though!

Nothing much else to report because my brain is really not working like it should. But I've finished full-time work for the time being so I can get up at nine every morning and on Monday I start my next book. I hope I can tell you a bit more next time I post.

Be good

Sarra x

Sunday, February 12, 2006

If I could have a second skin I'd probably dress up in you...


Especially if you're here for the first time and found this blog address in the back of Let's Get Lost. I want to thank you for all the comments you've left about the book. If you want to rave about it on, that would be cool with me too!

London is grey and rain-soaked today. But I'm back from the gym, all freshly showered, freshly pyjama-ed, listening to the new Belle And Sebastian album and with four episodes of The OC to watch after I've made some toast, so life is good.

A few things I need to say. My microsite: has been re-designed and updated. There's an interview with Molly from Guitar Girl, an article about crushing from Edie of Diary Of A Crush fame and an excerpt from Let's Get Lost up there too.

What else? I got an email from Nissa telling me about an IM chat she had with a boy from Egypt who has the same email address as Dylan in the DOAC books and that he's been bombarded with emails from my readers, some of whom have been to visit him. I'm quite concerned about this. Dylan is a fictional character. That means he's not real and not real boys do not have email addresses. Certainly when the books were first written, that email address was not operational. The books have now sold thousands of copies here in the UK and in France and Sweden and are just about to come out in the States. The email address can't be changed. But I hope that all of you would exercise caution on the internet and wouldn't email or chat with people you don't know. There are some really freaky types out there. This boy seems harmless enough but the thought that anyone would be irresponsible enough to meet up with someone anywhere just because they share an email address with a character in a book is seriously not cool. Please, please, please be careful.

OK, lecture over now. Josie and Lady Julieanne, sorry, I still haven't got those CDs in the post because I'm lame. I will make it happen this week.

Now Seth Cohen is calling to me and I'm powerless to resist...

Love Sarra x

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Let's Get Lost goes on sale in the UK tomorrow!

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I'm proud to announce that Let's Get Lost is available to buy from all good bookshops tomorrow, including Ottakers where it's Book Of The Month.

Although I love all my books equally, I'm especially proud of Let's Get Lost as there were times when I thought I'd never finish it. I guess this is the book that most made me feel like a proper writer as I put so much of myself in to it.

It's about a girl called Isabel who doesn't seem very likeable. She's one of the popular girls at school, the meanest of the mean girls. She rules her friends with an iron fist and a divide and rule philosophy. Despises her family. Keeps herself heartless and hard. Then she meets a boy called Smith and begins to unravel. All of us like to present a front to the world and keep the undesirable stuff hidden, but Isabel has it the wrong way round. And Smith finds her gooey soft centre, stirs it around and all of her secrets start spilling out.

I started the book about three months after my mother died and it was too painful and difficult to write. So I took a break to get Diary Of A Crush ready for publication, wrote Pretty Things and then took another look at Let's Get Lost. It's taken me three years to write, gone through about ten different drafts and if I'm brutally honest I cried every day as I wrote the last three chapters. But it's not all doom and gloom and woe is me. Like, all my books you'll find enough to make you smile including caustic one liners, smirky, know-it-all boys and tons of references to The OC.

I'd really love to know what you think of the book and Isabel, in particular. Be sure to review me on Amazon and/or leave a comment here. And Let's Get Lost will be out in the US and Canada in October, I think, of this year.

Smith walked fast with a loping gait, almost bouncing on the soles of his sneakers and I liked that he was so free, so unaware, not knowing that I was looking at him. Like when you’re on the bus and you stare into someone’s front room and you see them watching television or slumped on the sofa and it’s like you’re taking a tiny piece of them home with you.

He ambled into a couple of charity shops and rifled through battered piles of vinyl records and tattered paperbacks. I loitered by the racks of musty smelling polyester dresses - I was going for this whole melting into the walls vibe but I just looked really shifty if the suspicious attention I was getting from the blue rinse brigade manning the tills was anything to go by.

I hadn’t been able to get a good look at him before. It had been dark and there had been quantities of alcohol involved but daylight softened out the slant of his cheekbones and the hard lines of his jaw, so he looked less thuggish. Didn't know anything to lessen the effect of his nose. If you were being kind you'd call it aquiline, if you weren't, you'd call it beaky. And I could see those lips that I'd kissed - how they looked as pillowy as they'd felt. His hair was still ridiculous, he'd obviously never got intimate with a pair of straightening irons. But what I liked about him (and I did appear to like him, even though he had a stupid name and needed to stop kissing girls at parties because he thought they were other girls he'd kissed at other parties) was his serenity. There was something utterly calm about him, no matter how fast his elegant hands leafed through records or pored over books. It was if everything was out of focus except him.

He brushed past me on his way towards the door and I pressed myself against a rail of coats. I waited for the door to shut behind him, then cautiously slunk out in time to see him disappearing into the newsagents next door.

Luckily, I could pretend to read the ads for exotic Swedish massages while I peered through the window and watched Smith buy a packet of cigarettes and some chewing gum. As he was walking down the length of the shop, I realised my cover would be blown so I dived into the nearest doorway, which happened to be a hardware shop and looked with feigned interest at the display of screwdrivers and oooh, power saws. Imagine the damage I could do with one of them.

At first I thought it was the wind brushing against me, but then it happened again, someone was tapping me on the shoulder. Even before I turned round I knew it was him.

I’d forgotten how blue his eyes were. I wanted to compose sonnets in my head about ocean depths and cloudless skies because I was obviously suffering from severe sleep deprivation. He was frowning at me, this little furrowed line popping up between his eyebrows.

I felt like I’d finally been caught shoplifting. My cheeks were burning traffic light red as he fixed me with an intractable look. “Are you following me?”