Saturday, December 29, 2007
This is Edie's (of Diary Of A Crush fame, like you didn't already know that) giode to crushing. Way back when God was a boy, this was a non-Edie feature for J17. And after that, it became an Edie-centric article for my micro-site, which has floated off into the interpipe ether. So its now here for your reading pleasure, even if it is slightly dated now.
EDIE'S 12 DEGREES OF CRUSHING
Hello, Edie here.
Now, I might not be the class brainiac, although there are some things I'm an expert in. Like, buying vintage frocks on Ebay or 15 different ways to eat a Twix. But the one subject that I get an A plus in every time, is the ancient art of crushing. I crush, therefore I am.
I've decided to share the benefit of my wisdom and after months of hopelessly lusting after Dylan, I've worked out that there is 12 degrees of crushing from the slightly embarrassing things any girl will do to catch the eye of the heir to her heart. And then there are the other things - the deranged, insane things that will probably result in you being sectioned or sent to your room until your 30.
I've written it down in a handy list:
Low-level love stuff
1. Weirdy compatibility stuff
It's not enough to just like the look of someone. You have to know that it's meant to be. So find out his date of birth and cross-match your astrological compatibility in the love horoscope section in magazines.
Or, sit at the back of biology playing love, like, hate, adore or working out your love percentage rating (it's got to be more fun than learning about the digestive system) and boring your mates with comments like "Uh! He hates me but I adore him" or "Yay! We love each other 98%!"
2. Having a working knowledge of his time-table
How the hell else will you know exactly what classroom door your beloved will come out of at the end of fith period? And you can tell so much about a boy by knowing that he has a double Food And Nutrition lesson on Thursday afternnon, can't you?
3. Trying out his surname
Just so you know whether to keep your own name when you get married or whether you'll actually like the way Mrs Shovelbottom sounds.
4. Thinking of excuses to talk to him
Stick to the weather, dissing school and telly. Don't make the mistake of spending too long thinking of something to say. 'Cause when you do pluck up the courage to like, talk to him, you'll end up saying something completely hatstand. "Do you like The OC?" will come out as "Seth! Ryan! Marissa! Unk! Unk!" leaving your love-god with a look of bewilderment on his face. But, hey, at least you got his attention.
Mildly alarming amour antics
5. Obsessing over stuff he's touched
About a month into your crush (if no-one tastier has come along) you'll find that you've amassed a small collection of bizarre white elephants and objets d'art. Let's take a look, shall we? A couple of old coke cans, a balled up sheet of Italian vocab, an empty Doritos bag and, best of all, a sweaty footie shirt that you, erm, found in the boys' changing room. What have all these items got in common? Why, they've all known the touch of his heavenly hands, like you didn't already know that.
6. Special coded communications
Although you and your mates all know the true identities of your respective crushes, it would never do to mention them by name. Instead you create a new way of communicating with each other. Why? Because the world would end if anyone were to hear you discussing the pert pecs of Trent from the record shop. Instead you say things like, "Discman has arm bumps. Over." Should come in handy if there's over an opening at MI6.
7. Planning to bump into him
And it's not enough that you might just happen to bump into him. You plan every potential encounter with your special boy like a military campaign. For starters, you've already memorised his weekly movements so you have a pretty clear idea of when and where he'll be. You also spend hours designing a look that suggests you've just happened to throw on the nearest outfit. And then when you do track him down, you're too freaked out by his nearness to do anything but run away.
8. Ripping his number from the telephone directory and keeping it with you at all times
As if you'd ever forget his number!
Brrrrrrring! Brrrrrrring. Stalker alert!
9. Phoning his number 24/7
Because when he picks up the phone and says, "Hello, 4436988", it makes your heart turn somersaults. And if you dial 141 before tapping in his number he can never trace your call. Well, not until his family get the police involved, that is.
10. 1471ing 24/7
In your heart of hearts you know that one day your crush will suddenly wake up, realise that you're his and make that call. Until that happy day, you spend all your life doing 1471 just to check that the phone didn't ring while you were doing noisy stuff like running water or shouting at your younger brother. The fact that all your 1471ing actually makes the phone engaged should he call seems to have escaped your notice.
11. Analyzing everything
When he says, "Hi" to you after you "accidentally" crashed your bike against his, you begin to wonder what he meant. And why did his voice go slightly up in pitch at the end of the syllable? And did he raise one of eyebrows half a millimetre higher than the other one? And if he did, what was he trying to tell you? Why? Why? Why?
12. Walking up and down outside his house
You sad, sad girl. Stop it right now.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm still in a food coma, but can just about move enough to post my send present to you: an interview with Molly from Guitar Girl. I think I did this for my US publishers when the book was first published in the States in 2004 so some of the references may be a bit dated. Oh, and the subject title is from a song by Helen Love, which reminds me of Molly a little bit. Of course, we find out what Molly did next thanks for her guest starring role in Let's Get Lost. (And you'll never guess who shows up in Fashionistas: Irina!)
1. Why did you decide to start a band?
"Because I heard Kelly Clarkson on the radio and knew that it didn't have to be like this. And I loved Ruby X and her music and I wanted to touch people like she's touched me."
2. What inspires your music?
Everything. Emily Strange, watching rain-drops trickle down the windows of the tour-bus, messy-haired boys, Chunky KitKats, running down hills really fast.
3. What advice would you give to other girls who want to start a band?
It's very simple:
1. Believe that you want to be in a band more than you want anything else in the world.
2. Form a band.
3. Play your first show as soon after that as humanly possible.
4. What's on your iPod?
"My iPod is broken because Dean got really drunk one night and decided to dunk it in a glass of diet Coke to see if it would float because he's deeply and frequently idiotic. But I did compile a really ace mix CD last night to get us all pepped up before we go on stage. Hang on, while I dig it out of my bag. OK:
1. Give Him A Great Big Kiss - The Shangri-Las
2. 40 Boys In 40 Nights - The Donnas
3. Is This What I Get For Loving You Baby? - The Ronettes
4. Can't Get You Out Of My Head - Kylie Minogue
5. Oh! - Sleater Kinney
6. Bitch Goddess - Ruby X
7. I Know What Boys Like - The Waitresses
It kinda goes on like that and you should be able to download these songs off the interpipe. Hmmm, not that I would ever encourage doing anything like that, 'cause it's illegal and stuff.
5. How do you handle groupies?
"I don't get groupies. I get cool girls who want to talk about hairslides. I get not-so-cool girls who demand that I give Dean their phone numbers. And I get really geeky boys who want to know what the chord sequence is for the bridge in Hello Kitty Speedboat. So, no groupies but that would be too scary to cope with anyway.
6. So what's the deal with you and Dean?
"What deal? There is no deal. There's just Dean."
7. And how do you feel about there being 'just Dean'?
"It's a cross I have to bear."
8. You know that people think you're seeing each other.
"Well, we are in a band together. You kind of have to see each other for that to work out."
9. You know exactly what I mean, don't you?
"I do. And I really don't want to go there. It's just… y'know… too complicated. Next question."
10. Do you regret telling the press that you were a virgin?
"Oh God! It was just a tiny slip-up, I didn't even use the v-word and then it was all over the papers, along with the words "reluctant sex symbol." It was just hideous. To come down for breakfast and your Dad's reading the paper and there's a story about his daughter's sex life. Or lack of it. And now everything's changed and people are still banging on about it.
11. When you say everything's changed, does that mean that you're not a virgin?
"It means that you better think of another question if you want this interview to continue."
12. What's the best thing about being famous?
"I'm still trying to figure that one out. I s'pose it's meeting really amazing people. Like, girls who come up to me after we've played a show and they're all beautiful and they get what I'm trying to do and it makes me remember why I started a band and what it's all meant to be about. And, though it sounds really shallow, I've also got to meet some heroes of mine though that isn't fun so much as trying really hard not to wet myself."
13. How does it feel to be the voice of disenfranchised girlkind?
"Am I? I get a lot of that. 'Ooooh, you're the voice of your generation', and if I'm the voice of my generation, then my generation is royally screwed. Most of the time, I don't even know what I want for dinner, let alone be able to speak up for anyone else. I don't think girlkind is disenfranchised, I just think that boys don't understand anything about us so they have to use long, negative words to describe us 'cause it makes them feel better."
14. What do you then when you're not being disenfranchised?
"Oh ha ha! I hang out with Jane and Tara. I watch my Buffy DVDs. I post on my blog. I scour charity shops for interesting t-shirts and I eat lots and lots of chocolate. And cheese and onion crisps."
15. And what are you going to do after this interview's over?
"Probably worry about all the things I shouldn't have said. And I have a meeting with my manager to discuss who's going to do be doing our merchandising. Then I'm going to go home and do my laundry. It's not very rock 'n' roll, is it?"
Friday, December 21, 2007
First there was this picture of Courtney Love, which I loved like a fat kid love cake:
I sent it to my publishers, who used the Courtney pic as inspiration and came up with this. Yikes!:
I ranted. I raved. I had to have a lie down every time I looked at the picture on the back cover. But once I calmed down, I realised that actually I rather liked the picture on the spine and also that Molly's hair should actually be a rather unnatural shade of red. There was a bit of email ping pong and then, with the benefit of Photoshop, there was this:
It truly was a Chrismukkah miracle. And if anyone says that they preferred the original cover, then I will ban them from this blog!
Check back soon to read an interview with Molly from Guitar Girl.
(Edited to add: Also Guitar Girl was originally called The Startripper, after a song from an obscure band called Biff! Bang! Pow!, but it was decided that it sounded too much like a sci-fi novel. And the rest is history. Well, not history so much as I came up with another title and all was fine.)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I wanted to give you a heads up on my plans for next year. The third Fashionistas book, Irina is out in March and Candy will follow in April (if she's ever finished!) I hope you all squeal with delight when you discover who the special guest star is in Irina. I also have a short standalone story published in a US anthology and am in the really good company of Megan McCafferty, Sarah Dessen and Carolyn Mackler to name but a few. I'll give you more details when I have them and yes, I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to order the book from amazon.co.uk. There's stil no US publisher for Fashionistas but I'm really hopeful that now that the series is almost complete, we'll find abuyer for it. Also the news that Let's Get Lost has sold really, really, really well in hardback in the US should help. What else? Oh, yes! The Diary Of A Crush trilogy is going to be re-issued in the UK with gorgeous new covers. Well, I hope they're gorgeous - I haven't seen them yet. Apart from correcting some shocking typos and punctuation errors and updating some of the references (Blazin' Squad?!), the insides of the books haven't changed.
Then I'm going to be taking a little break from my tawdry teen fiction to write my first adult novel, Unsticky for Headline, which will be published in 2009. Please, don't give me the puppy dog eyes! I'm not going anywhere! I love, love, love writing teen fiction and will continue to do so, but I also want to write stories about older girls for an older market. Unsticky probably isn't appropriate reading for under-16s but hey, that's between you and your parents.
So, I'm aware that time constraints really prevent me from replying to comments (which can be summed up as: no sequels, no films, no US release for Fashionistas, check my blog archives for writing tips.) And I'm also aware that I usually run a competition to win the annual mix CD I compile of my favourite songs of the year, which I send out with my holiday cards. Alas, I'm so over-worked this year that I have serious doubts that I'll even send out cards, let alone burn CDs. So I'm going to do something a little diffferent. Something I like to call
THE RANDOM DAYS OF CHRISMUKKAH
In a disorganised, haphazard way I will post thrilling, lovely things over the festive period. Kind of like the special features on a DVD. These will exclude extras from Guitar Girl, Pretty Things and Diary Of A Crush that originally were posted on my Hodder microsite (which has now committed cyber suicide), unpublished extracts from Let's Get Lost and Laura and Hadley and sneak previews of Irina and Candy.
How very exciting, eh? The first post will go up around December 21st and will continue into the New Year so keep checking in.
OK, back to Candy version 3.0...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I know. I know! I haven't updated in ages. Mostly because I've been working flat-out on the final book in the Fashionistas series, Candy. I finished the first draft yesterday (I don't get to have the weekends off) and now I'm just about to start re-writing the whole thing and hoping that I can deliver it in time for the final deadline. Ho hum!
Apart from that my life has become incredibly boring. Apart from the occasional trip to Primark, I haven't been doing much. The new Rilo Kiley and the old Feist albums are in constant rotation. I've been reading the entire oeuvre of a novelist called Patrick Hamilton, which are all set between the wars and feature desperate alcoholics and ladies of easy virtue and mya be responsible for my current state of ennui (translation: Meh!) I also really need to stop playing so much Scrabulous on Facebook.
I will have some exciting news soon about various things that are in the pipeline. Some of them will thrill you. Some of them may not but them's there the breaks.
What I would like to share with you is the cover of the third Fashionistas book, Irina. There it is at the top of the post! And also tell you that the current synopsis up on amazon.co.uk is not the right synopsis at all and is littered with typos and just plain, bad wrongness. This is the official synopsis:
Irina used to steal designer clothes from Moscow's best stores. Now she's living in London and modelling them in the pages of glossy fashion magazines. Nothing and no one is going to stop her from becoming the world's most famous supermodel. Especially not her three really lame flatmates.
But hooking up with gorgeous photographer’s assistant Javier and getting on the wrong side of top model, Caroline Knight, isn't part of her plan. Will Irina drop the diva act and let her heart rule her head just this once?
I'm also way behind on replying to MySpace messages, so I'm going to have to write a form reply letting people know that their usual queries (why is there no sequel to Guitar Girl/Diary Of A Crush/Let's Get Lost etc) can be found in the tags on this here blog.
And also still no news about a US publisher for Fashionistas. I'm as pissed off as you guys about that, but if there is any news on that front, you'll be the first to know, I promise!
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I realise I haven't updated in an age. I wish I could report that I've been off doing all manner of impossibly glamorous things, but sadly that's not the case.
What I have been doing is writing so much that I'm surprised my fingers aren't little bloody stumps. The third book in the Fashionistas series, Irina, has been delivered but its release has been put back to May 2008 because of some snarl ups with the cover. And I'm in the middle of writing Candy, which is the first book that I've ever delivered late. I'm usually very conscientious when it comes to deadlines but, quite frankly, if she's done by the end of the year, it will be a freaking miracle on the scale of the loaves and the fishes!
The Fashionistas series is available in Australia and New Zealand - all my UK releases are automatically published in the Antipodes. I've also secured some foreign rights deals and so the series will be published in France, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark. I've also just heard that Diary Of A Crush is going to be translated into Italian, which I'm very excited about. What I'm not so excited about is that I still have no news to report on a US release of Fashionistas. Currently, I don't have an American publisher so I don't forsee this situation being resolved quickly. However, Fashionistas Laura and Hadley are available on amazon.com and would make wonderful Chrismukkah gifts!
And in a weird series of events, I do have something coming out next year that will only be available in the US. It's not actually a book and I can't give you any details at the moment, but I haven't forgotten my US fanbase.
I've also been doing a lot of freelance writing for ELLE and, more recently, Grazia. If you get the current issue with Jennifer Aniston on the cover, there's an interview I did with the wonderful Kate Nash, who I have such a girl crush on. All this busy-ness means that I have a huge backlog of MySpace messages that I doubt I'm going to get a chance to reply to. As ever, my blogs on blogspot and MySpace are the best way to get all my news and most of your questions have already been answered if you have a look at the tags on the blogspot blog.
Of course, I'd probably be a lot more efficient if I didn't play so much Scrabulous on Facebook. Talking of which, I pretty much friend everyone back on MySpace but Facebook is the little corner of the interweb that I use for people who I know in real life so please don't be offended if I don't friend you back on there.
And now, since I went on a six mile (what was I thinking?!) walk this morning, I'm going to tuck into a completely guilt-free Belgian chocolate brownie. And ain't nothing on earth gonna stop me!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Hadley didn't believe in what might have beens. It was better to regret something you had done, than something you hadn't. That's what her yogi used to tell her. But then her yogi hadn't witnessed the moment that George and Candy first laid eyes on each other. If he had, he'd have given up on Buddhism and started stock-piling canned goods for the inevitable apocalypse.
"Oh my God, girlfriend!" George squealed, when he caught sight of Candy emerging from behind the velvet rope. "I fricking worship you, you foul-mouthed little bitch!"
"I love you too!" Candy threw her arms around George as the cameras started flashing. "You're the funniest thing in that lame-ass sitcom."
Hadley impatiently tapped her foot and waited for Candy to back away from her pretend boyfriend.
In the end, she had no choice but to trail after them, like the original third wheel, as they made their way up to the VIP area. To add insult to injury, Candy and George sailed past the door whore without a backward glance while she was forced to insist sweetly that, yes, she was on the guest list, thank you very much.
"… nightmare, Candy," she heard George say, as she caught up with them. "Used to step on all my cues and then Momzilla, that's what we called Amber on set, banned all baked goods because Hadley might get super-fat."
"I'm wheat intolerant," Hadley said icily, sliding into the booth. "And I never stepped on your cues."
"Take the stick out of your butt, Hadders," Candy advised, flagging down a waitress who deposited a tray full of garishly coloured drinks on the table. "It worked out OK in the end, didn't it?"
"How did it work out OK?" Hadley took a dubious sniff at one of the drinks and nearly got impaled on a stray cocktail umbrella. After her foray into champagne and the monster headache she'd had the next day, she was living alcohol-free.
"Well, you and George are love's young dream," Candy said archly, nudging George who giggled. "I mean, get a room, you two!"
That was obviously meant to be a joke as they were sitting miles apart but Hadley forced herself to turn her frown upside down and smile lovingly at George who pulled a face.
"Hadley's all right," he said grudgingly. "But, hey, don't you think she's really bossy under that fluffy exterior? She's all, like, hug me there's a photographer or don't act so gay when people are around." George clapped his hand over his mouth as he realised his monumental gaffe.
Candy's smile glittered. "But you're not gay," she pointed out. "Because you wouldn't be going out with Hadley if you were."
"Everyone in London acts gay," George hastily assured her. "It's the cool, new thing."
"Oh, really…" Trust Candy to be all suspicious-y.
"See, George acts all camp and stuff because he thinks it's funny," Hadley bit out, which was quite an achievement given the way her jaw was so tightly clenched. "Even though I've told him a million times that it's not."
George slid across the banquette so he could sling a careless arm around Hadley's shoulder. "You know I love to get a rise out of you, sweetness," he cooed, planting a sloppy kiss on her cheek. She should have got an Oscar right then for resisting the urge to squinch up her face and rub her hand over the spot that George's lips, lips of George!, had touched.
"You're so funny, darling," Hadley simpered, patting his hand and if she dug her nails in just a teensy weensy bit, then even God himself would forgive her.
"Have a drink," George whispered in her ear as Candy waved at someone on the other side of the room. "Loosen up a little bit before she begins to realise that I can't actually stand the sight of you."
"The feeling is beyond mutual," Hadley whispered back and grabbed the nearest drink, a fluoro pink concoction with a stray piece of pineapple floating forlornly in its depths. Hadley took a cautious sip.
"This has pomegranate in it," she announced, ignoring the acidic after-taste, which was more liquor-y than fruity. "That's like a superfood."
"See, it's practically a health drink," George soothed.
Candy agreed with him. "For God's sake Hadders, stop sniffing it and just chug." She took a long enthusiastic gulp from her own glass.
It definitely tasted nicer than the champagne. And the second drink, a blackberry martini, was almost approaching yummy, though the pips kept getting stuck in her teeth.
When Candy and George went off to dance, she even managed to wave them off with a carefree smile. Oooh, maybe she could get Mervyn to leak some bitter love triangle story to the gossip rags, as long as she emerged the eventual winner.
Hadley beckoned a tray-yielding waiter so she could have another blackberry martini – they really were all kinds of more-ish. She was starting to feel fuzzy round the edges. Fuzzy was good. For the first time since she sat in her lawyer's office all those months ago, the sharp, nagging anxiety had floated away.
She was just a girl with a pink flower in her hair slurping down a martini in a club in London. She didn't have to tell anyone off or do their job for them, or remember to keep her left profile away from the cameras. If this was what drinking did for you, then she was a fan.
It was all going fine, until Hadley tried to stand up and her legs registered their disapproval. She could do things in five inch heels that most girls had never even dreamt about, but suddenly balancing on them was a problem.
Her knees knocked painfully together as she cannoned off the side of the booth and into the back of someone.
"Sorry!" And that was also weird. Her teeth had gone numb. Hadley ran her tongue over them experimentally and they all seemed to be present and correct, but actually her tongue felt odd too. Like it was made of rubber.
She needed to pee and she needed to find George and she might possibly need another drink too. It took a few seconds to get her priorities in the right order and then she was stumbling down the stairs; her hand clutched tight to the rail.
Pit-stop done, (two of girls in the bathroom had broken into a tuneless rendition of Feelin' Kinda Hadley, the theme tune from Hadley's House, which Hadley had found hysterically funny) Hadley's next mission was to find her fake beau.
The problem was that George didn't really have any distinguishing features. Apart from his spectacularly smug smile and it was too dark in the club, to be able to hone in on that. Every second boy had over-gelled blonde hair and a white shirt.
"George's shirt is Comme des Garcons," Hadley muttered to herself, scanning the crowd of blonde, white-shirted boys to see if she could spot the ruffle detailing that made George totally not stand out in a crowd.
In desperation, Hadley clambered on to a chair almost putting her heel through a girl's leg, who took it with a really bad grace, and peered over people's heads.
It was no use; she still couldn't see. Hadley carefully held aloft her martini glass and climbed up on the table. It was so much better. Now she could see George and Candy whirling around like they were on So You Think You Can Dance?
"George!" Her ear-piercing shriek didn't carry over the surf guitars bursting forth from the DJ booth, but the people who were sitting around the table that she was currently standing on, still started bitching. "I'm sorry," she hissed. "But I have to find my boyfriend."
"You spill my drink, you pay for it," snarled one really surly girl who got even surlier when Hadley told her that there was a free bar if you were a celebrity.
"Are you from one of those sad-sack reality shows?" the girl said belligerently. "God, where do they find people like you?"
Standing on top of a table was not the best place to recite the highlights from your resume, but Hadley gave it her best shot.
Her audience was less than impressed. "Go fuck yourself."
"Well, there's no need to get snippy," she started to say when she felt two hands around her waist and she was lifted from the table and set on her own two, very unsteady feet. "How dare you, you…"
"Do you stand on tables at home? I'm sure Candy would have mentioned that before."
It was Reed. The man who'd manhandled her with his hands. At least her blackberry Martini was still intact. Hadley took a long, slow sip because table-hopping was thirsty work. "I've lost my boyfriend," she informed Reed gravely. "Your sister's run off with him. But he's my boyfriend. Mine." She poked Reed in the chest with her finger so he'd get the seriousness of the situation.
Instead he looked down to where her finger was prodding what felt like rock-hard abs, with a frown. "How much have you had to drink anyway?"
Hadley finished off the rest of her Blackberry martini in one defiant gulp. "You're not the boss of me. I'm the boss of me. And that whole stubble thing is so over. Would it kill you to shave?"
Reed rubbed the chin in question. "Yeah, it might."
Hadley squinted at him. In a sea of white shirts and blonde hair, he stood out like some black-clad interloper, determined not to get in to the Tiki swing of things. "Are you allergic to shaving cream?" she breathed, because, hello, freaky.
"You really can't hold your drink," Reed pronounced, deftly taking the glass out of her hand. "I thought all you LA kids were in rehab by the time you were 14. You're a real lightweight."
Hadley liked to think that she was dignified in her alleged drunkeness. "I never touched alcohol when I was younger. It would have totally stunted my physical development."
And deja ewwww! Because that made Reed remember he had a hard-earned reputation as a player to maintain and he ran his thickly lashed eyes all over her. She was obviously lacking, mostly in the breast department, because he turned away as someone touched him lightly on the shoulder.
Someone with straggly hair, gangly limbs and jutting cheekbones - obviously she was a successful model.
"Reed," the girl said in heavily accented English. "This place sucks. I want to go now."
He stroked the backs of his fingers down the girl's cheek but she pouted furiously and took a step back. "Now. We go now," she repeated emphatically.
"Will you be all right on your own?" Reed asked Hadley doubtfully. "Should I go and find someone?"
"Who would you find?" she asked, but he'd already turned away.
"Later," he called over his shoulder and she was left to go and fling her arms round George, and nudge Candy out of the way with her hip, just in time for a stray photographer to take their picture.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Hadley Harlow was once the world's biggest child star. Now she's strictly C-list and launching herself on the London celebrity circuit to revive her flagging career. Sure, Hadley's high maintenance but she's also a tough cookie who isn't going to let anything stand in her way whether it's pesky agents, jealous co-stars or three diva-like flatmates. Not to mention the disapproval of Reed, hip film director and notorious modeliser. Like she cares what he thinks! But even when you're on the bottom rungs of the showbiz ladder, you can still have a long way to fall. Learning to live in the real world is going to be Hadley's toughest role yet...
Though I should point out that this is the UK (and Australia and NZ release date - still no news on US publication.) And I hear from reliable sources that the first copies are already on sale, if you're lucky.
Check back here for a sneak preview of Hadley in the next week or so...
Monday, August 20, 2007
You'd think I'd be used to it by now, especially as very few interviews have turned out to be unmitigated disasters. And as I'm always being asked for writing pointers, I thought I'd compile a little list of interviewing tips I've picked up over the years:
1. Be prepared
Do your homework. Read up on the person you're interviewing and never try to wing it because therein lies disaster and humiliation. I always have a long list of questions so the conversation never lapses into an awkward silence and I can keep plugging away, no matter how difficult my subject is, until they start sharing.
2. Open questions
This is something I learnt when I studied journalism at 16 and I've never forgotten. Always ask questions that begin with who, what, where and how. This means that the interviewee can't answer them with yes or no. Fr'instance if you ask them, "Do you like cheese?", they come back with a "yes" or "no." But if you ask them, "Why do you like cheese?", they can start banging on about the joys of a good, stinky Brie.
3. Put your subject at ease
I never just launch into my questions but first explain what the interview will be about, who the readers will be and what areas I'll be covering. And then to relax them, I check that my recording equipment is working by asking them what they had for breakfast that morning! And an "I love your shoes/bag/last movie" is always a good tactical move but avoid gushing.
4. it's good to talk
Although it's an interview and you have a long list of questions, this is not an interrogation and the questions don't need to be answered in a particular order. The best interviews should be like having a chat with a friend that you've only just met for the first time. The natural flow of a conversation is far better than a stiff question and answer session and you'll find that in the course of talking, your subject will probably answer five of your questions that you haven't even got round to asking yet.
Always record your interviews. When I've been interviewed and the interviewer is just listening and assumes they'll remember all my sparkling bon mots, I know that I'll be misquoted and they'll get facts wrong. I'm also very anti note taking. If I'm writing down answers, I'm still missing stuff and not paying attention to what I'm being told. In fact, I'm so paranoid that I record all my interviews twice; on a little tape recorder and my iPod (I have a little gizmo that I plug into the mic socket, which turns it into a voice recorder.) This is also a practical thing - God, forbid someone claims that I've misquoted them, I have the interview tapes to know that I haven't. Legally, journalists are meant to keep their interview tapes for at least two years (or is it three years, or even five? I never can remember!), after which time no libel proceedings can be brought against them.
6. Share alike
Another great tip for getting people to talk to you, especially in difficult situations, is to tell them a bit about yourself. That doesn't mean you should talk at great length about your life but say, you're asking them about a break-up, offering a little anecdote about a relationship of your own that ended badly and showing that you understand where they're coming from makes you seem a little less like the enemy.
Transcribing interviews is one of the most tedious aspects of being a journalist. But I always transcribe my own tapes - in fact, one of my first paid gigs was transcribing tapes for a business journalist for £10 a side! Even in the days, when I did have an assistant, I quickly realised it was best to do my own transcribing. Not just because I know that any mistakes or edits are my own but also so I really get a feel for how my interviewee talks, which is really important in writing up the piece.
So these are my best interview tips. I mainly talk to celebrities and do a little real-life, and there are other tricks to interviewing people for news stories but I don't know what they are!
And talking of interviews, in the current issue of British ELLE is an interview I did with one of my favourite actresses, Maggie Gyllenhaal, so you can check out my technique for yourselves.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
After the wettest, soggiest summer since records began, I'm happy to report that London is finally sunshine-y and warm. Hurrah! Also, I escaped unscathed after getting run over by a bus but will never step out into the road without looking again.
On to more important topics. Thank you so much to everyone who commented on the first Fashionista's book, Laura. I know that it seems light and fluffy on the surface (and on the cover!) but like all my stories, it's about what lies beneath the masks that people wear. And I'm really grateful that so many of you understood that.
Unfortunately, I have no news to report about any US or Canadian publication date for the series. The British edition should be available on amazon.com and amazon.ca though. Austrlian and NZ readers, the series should be on sale at the usual places and there will be French, German and Dutch editions next year.
However, I am working on a little something that will only be published in the US next year. Can't say anymore at this stage but you guys will be the first to know when I can spill.
I've also done a little press for Fashionistas at two of my very favourite websites. The first interview is at pink-world.co.uk. You can find it here
and I also answered my own question, 'what does being a fashionista mean to you?' at chicklish.co.uk. You can read my thoughts here.
While I'm in a linky mood, I wanted to rec a couple of books I've read recently. I don't really read much teen fic 'cause I like to stay in my own little teen world but y'all have to rush out and get a copy of Notes From The Teenage Underground by my MySpace pal, Simmone Howell.
She's an Australian writer who tells the story of Gem and her two frenemies, Lo and Mira and their plans to stage an Andy Warholesque happening. Except it doesn't quite work out as Gem thought it would. This is such a great book about movies, how fraught friendship can be and what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. I really identified with it as I was obsessed with Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick when I was a teenager.
The other book I wanted to rave about is my mate Grace Dent's Diary Of A Chav: Trainers vs. Tiaras. It's about Shiraz Bailey-Wood from Essex who's a pink hoodie-wearing chav with an emo older sister, a fat dog and ambitions to become a reality TV star. Don't read it on the bus though 'cause you'll start cackling out loud and people will think you're deranged. It's also worth checking out Grace's Big Brother blog At the moment I'm hating on Ziggy so hard.
What else? I'm listening to Kate Nash too much and spitting out words in a mockney style. Want to weep for the travesty that is Britain's Next Top Model. Need to sort out what I'm doing for my birthday next week and will be fostering a six week old kitten who needs bottle feeding while my cousin is on holiday.
I'm also writing some words that will become a book one day. Y'know, same old, same old...
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
fash_ion-is-ta - Noun
Pronounciation: [fash-uhn –ee-stuh]
1. Someone who eats, sleeps, breathes and lives for fashion.
2. Someone who works in the fashion industry.
3. Someone who would never be seen dead in last season's looks
Laura isn't that surprised when she beats 12000 other girls in a nationwide modelling
competition. After all, she's beautiful and beginning a glamorous new life in London as the newest model on Fierce's books was bound to happen sooner rather than later.
But is being beautiful going to be enough? Laura never expected three fame-hungry flat-mates, sleazy photographers and a weight problem to stand between her and success in the fast-paced world of fashion.
At least she can always rely on her boyfriend Tom. But things change and will Laura have to do the unthinkable and choose between her heart and her dreams of being a model?
Monday, July 02, 2007
Anyway for those of you still without a copy, I thought I'd post a taster of what you'll be getting from the story of an uppity, up and coming model who has a lot to lose if she's ever going to make it in the high-faluting fashion world.
The studio lights were hotter than a heatwave in the Sahara Desert. Despite the industrial strength quantities of powder, Laura was sure that she was starting to sweat. Beside her, she could feel Nemi shaking. Her hand squeezed Laura's tightly, even though last week she'd been caught on camera calling her "a fat cow." Nemi didn't deserve to win. Nemi wasn't going to win. She had bulgy eyes, weird thread veins on her legs and, worst of all, she was a shrieking drama queen who thought that Europe was a country "somewhere near France, innit?"
Laura tried to concentrate as Daisy Bloom, ex-supermodel, now shiny-haired TV presenter went into her final spiel of the night. "The judges have deliberated, the public have voted and soon I'll reveal the winner of Make Me A Model 2007. But first let me remind you of the prizes the lucky girl will receive: A contract with international model agency, Fierce Management, a cover shoot with Skirt magazine shot by renowned photographer, Gerry Valandrey and an exclusive contract with Sparkle Comsetics worth £100,000…blah blah, for the love of God, blah blah…"
It was too bright to see the audience as anything other than a vague blur of faces, but Laura knew her Mum and Dad would be in their usual place at the left end of the third row, Tom sitting behind them. His face would be a conflicting mess of emotions from embarrassment that he was live on ITV, to pride that he had such a gorgeous girlfriend. Aw, poor conflicted baby.
Time had become just a relative concept. Laura was standing right on the edge of her new life and it was starting to feel a lot like being trapped in purgatory, eternally condemned to wish that Daisy would just quit amping up the tension even though the studio manager was holding up a card, which read, "SPIN IT OUT FOR ANOTHER 30 SECS." Also, she really needed to pee and the tape, which was holding her dress together was itching.
"Good luck," Laura whispered to Nemi, who squeezed her hand even tighter. What she really meant was, "Good luck when you find yourself asking your customers if they'd like to supersize their fries, beeyatch."
"So I have two beautiful girls standing in front of me," Daisy husked, gliding towards the two girls. Laura's face was shifting into a frozen grin, her lips sliding over dry teeth because all her saliva supplies had been directed down toward her bladder. "Stop thinking about peeing", she told herself sternly.
Daisy paused yet again for dramatic emphasis. It was verging on excruciating. "But I only have one photograph in my hand. One of these girls is undeniably beautiful but that's only one small part of being a model. We want to see if the beauty is on the inside too. Week after week, we've watched Nemi rock the cameras but we've seen an ugly side to you at the judging panel. The public love your look, Nemi, but is it enough?"
Nemi seemed to think it was because she was crying on cue like she did every week. A single crystalline tear gently rolled down her caramel smooth cheek telegenically but not enough to smudge her make-up.
"But the public also love you, Laura. You haven't had a single bad shot in this competition but we also got to see your beauty of spirit, your quirky sense of humour and even when you fell over during the final runway test, you made it work to your advantage. But is your spark enough in the cut-throat world of modelling or will it just burn out too quickly?"
Laura was tempted to scream at the top of her lungs, "Just announce the fricking winner!" But common sense prevailed at the last moment. It was taking all her last vestiges of strength to make her eyes Bambi-big so she wouldn't start crying. God, she wanted this more than anything. She wanted it so much that she could taste it and it tasted exactly like the world's biggest chocolate fudge sundae with extra sprinkles.
Daisy stood there for another five seconds. She'd told Laura off-camera that she counted in her head "one elephant, two elephant, three elephant…" so she got the timing exactly right. Finally, she drew herself up to her full 5 feet, 11 inches and tossed back her platinum blonde curls, which netted her £1 million a year in shampoo commercials. Then she drew the photograph out from behind her back.
Laura squinted at it. For one deliciously, dreadful moment she thought it was Nemi. She shut her eyes and opened them again. Had it been Nemi? It didn't look like Nemi. It looked like her in that last ridiculous shoot, where they'd had to dress up as sea creatures. Laura had been a dolphin. That grey satin dress really had done her no favours and as for…
"Congratulations, Laura, we're going to make you a model," Daisy was saying, but her words were drowned out by Nemi noisily bursting into tears.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Do you want me to bang on about how busy I am? Or repeat for the gazillionth time that there are no plans to ever write any more Diary Of A Crush books (for reasons explained in the tags to your left?) Or shall I just get on with the competition details? Yes, I thought so!
On Wednesday, I went to my publisher's offices and signed a box of advance copies of Laura, Fashionistas, Book One in my terrible, scrawly hand-writing. The book isn't on sale in the UK until July 17th but we want to give away 20 of the little blighters right now. Unfortunately, nothing in this life is for free so I'm going to make you work for a copy.
Leave me a comment telling me why you're a Fashionista. Be funny, be creative and don't forget to leave your email address and the 20 best answers get a book. It doesn't matter what country you live in either. One proviso, my publishers would like you to send them a review of the book once you've read it, saying what you thought of it. Hopefully, you'll like it and won't think that it sucks like a huge sucking thing. The closing date for this competition is Monday, June 25th so you have a little time to come up with a fantastic answer that will knock my Gap socks off.
I know that generally I'm crap at replying to comments but I do value all my readers and everyone who comments here and so this competition is a great way to say thank you. As the publication date creeps closer, I will be posting some sneak previews of the book but here's a reminder of what it's about and what the cover looks like - though now it's a bit pinkier and sparklier.
Beating 12,000 other girls to become the newest model on Fierce's books is Laura's dream come true. But she knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. She's gorgeous – everyone thinks so.
But once the thrill of winning has faded, Laura is alone in London, in a shoebox bedroom with three fame-hungry flatmates. Being beautiful doesn't seem enough now… not when her booker thinks she's way too fat, and her devoted boyfriend isn't the rock she thought he was.
Laura's got to make some difficult decisions. And time is running out…
Edited to add: Girls, please! As requested, leave your email address with your Why I'm A Fashionsta comments, otherwise there is no way to contact you if you've won.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I sit here and realise I have no witty, amusing opening sentence so I shall just plunge straight in.
First thing I need to tell you is that my official microsite - there's a link to it on the left hand side of the page - is not working. It's reverted to a much earlier version with an old design and all the fantastic extra content (an interview with Molly from Guitar Girl, Edie from Diary Of A Crush's Guide to crushes etc.) is missing. I'm hoping it will be back up for the release of the first Fashionista's Book, Laura, on July 19th. Talking of which, I'm extremely happy to announce that Fashionistas will be the first of my books to be translated into German. The series will also be coming out en francais and I will let you know of more foreign deals as and when and if they happen.
I've just finished a second draft of the third Fashionista's book, Irina, about a mondo-stroppy Russian model and realise that it's not a final draft as I expected. So I'm about to go back and sprinkle magic dust all over it. But mostly I'm panicking because I'm heading to the States next week for British ELLE in a whirwind visit and I one of my friends is away for the weekend and has my US adaptor plugs. You know, when I was wide-eyed and younger, I always hoped that I'd get to write sentences like "I'm heading for the States next week" and imagined it was all wildly glamorous. Actually the reality is a mound of laundry and piles of work to get through before I head off to the airport and not being able to find the little thingy that turns my iPod into a voice recorder. Still, I can't complain too much.
But it does get me thinking about what a time-waster I am, even with deadlines looming. So here's a list of all the stuff I get up to instead of working...
SARRA MANNING'S AMAZING, DEADLINE-DEFYING LIST OF PROCRASTINATION
* Writing blog posts. This is just one of my many blogs.
* Spending way too much money on eBay - currently buying Marc Jacobs' flip-flops and vintage Miriam Haskell costume jewellery
* Repeated applications of hand lotion
* Adding movies to my Lovefilm DVD queue
* Googling myself in all possible permutations and combinations
* See also looking up all my books on Amazon.
* Constantly clicking 'refresh' on the Friends page of my blog.
* Playing the awful, time-sucking Snood game which I should really remove from my computer.
* Eating - favourite mid-chapter snacks include cheese and crackers, handfuls of oat flakes, blueberry yoghurt and peanut butter eaten straight from te jar. (Not altogether I hasten to add.)
* Buying songs on iTunes. The last song I bought was Hello Saferide's I Was Definitely Made For These Times, though I was devastated to discover that she played two London shows last week and I missed them. By the way, I definitely wasn't made for these times just so we're clear on that.
* Annoying my friends with pointless emails.
* Analysing my playlists on lastfm.com
* Doing the MySpace thing even though all the cool kids are on Facebook.
* Going to the gym - I actually like going to the gym but I can't help but wonder if that's because it means I'm not staring at my computer screen
* Drinking coffee and smoking fags - God, never start smoking. More than that, never learn to inhale
* Gazing aimlessly at The Great Bear by Simon Patterson, which is the picture on the wall above my desk, when I need to come up with a new character name
* Obsessing over my word count
* Making lists and not knowing when to stop
OK, I now have coffee to make, laundry to do and a chapter to go and revise, but what do you get up to when you're meant to beworking?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Tonight I will be going to a Eurovision Song Contest Party, as is my wont to do. There's going to be a Sweepstake though I will pick the country that only get a measly un point from the Slovakian jury. But I think you can either turn up your nose and be too cool for skool about Eurovision or you can embrace the cheese. I embrace it with both arms!
I also just want to remind you that I do have a MySpace and that also I've just bought a 50's clock from a charity shop, which ticks so loudly I can barely hear the TV. I just felt the need to share that.
But for now, I thought I'd post an author's questionnaire I just complete for my publishers in the run-up to the release of the first Fashionista's Book, Laura on July 17th. Be warned! I ramble on and on and on and on and on...
1. Do you consider yourself a Fashionista?
I consider myself a Fashionista of epic proportions. I love clothes and accessories. In fact, two hours before I wrote this questionnaire, I was racing round the new Primark in London's swinging Oxford Street on a seek and destroy mission for a black, broderie anglaise summer frock.
I love how clothes can transform you, how you can be whoever you want to be depending on your outfit. I'm not a diehard fashion victim, I have my own look (which I call The Lipstick Librarian) but I like adding new pieces (a lot of new pieces!) each season to bring my style up to date. And I have little truck with fashion rules, like curvy girls shouldn't wear horizontal stripes. Fashion to me is just another way of expressing myself creatively and my fashion rules are that there are no rules!
My most beloved items in my closet are a vintage fitted dress with lurex stripes and a skirt that foofs out in a delightful manner and my limited edition Marc Jacobs multi-pocket bag in peacock blue with red top-stitching. It was so expensive that I had a panic attack five seconds after I signed the credit card slip!
2. Which character in your books do you identify with the most?
I identify the most with whichever character I happen to be writing at the time. I think that there is a common thread running through all my girls of people trying to figure out who the hell they want to be and how they're going to achieve that without losing part of themselves in the process. That's how I felt when I was a teenager. I knew I wanted to be a writer and I knew that I wasn't like a lot of other girls my age because of the way I looked and the music I listened to, the books I read and the things I liked to do. When I stopped kicking against that and realised that it was OK to be different, I became a lot happier in myself. So I guess I could really identify with Isabel from Let's Get Lost – not just because my mother passed away just before I started the book, but because I was so prickly and defensive when adolescence began to kick in.
3. How did you become a "Teen Queen Extraordinaire"? Was it always your dream to be a writer?
I have no idea how I became a Teen Queen Extraordinaire! Just luck, I guess! Certainly when I was a teenager, apart from loving Just Seventeen magazine (which I went on to write for), I shunned teen culture. But as I got older, I found myself obsessed and excited with things like old skool Sassy magazine and the TV show, My So-Called Life. My theory is that I made such a hash of being a teenager first time around, that I'm trying over and over again to get it right. I still feel the same away as I did when I was 17 – still trying to figure out all the big, heavy stuff and maybe that's why it feels very natural to write from the point of view of a teenage girl.
And I've always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I learnt the alphabet and suddenly realised that you could make words out of the letters. Certainly there are people who knew me when I was eight who can remember me announcing that I was going to be a writer – though I had a brief flirtation with wanting to be in a band but as I have no musical talent whatsoever, it was a very brief flirtation!
4. What is your favourite book?
I refuse to pick just one! The books that I re-read over and over again are Girl by Blake Nelson, Fabulous Nobodies by Lee Tulloch, The Pursuit Of Love and Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, all of the Jane Austens (apart from Mansfield Park because I think Fanny Price is a stuck-up little prig) and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. Though I do read other stuff – anything and everything from Edith Wharton to Mills & Boon to biographies on Madame de Pompadour!
5. Who are your heroes?
Diana Vreeland who was a marvellous, idiosyncratic, eccentric woman who was editor in chief of US Vogue. I love the way she wrote about fashion and the wilful way she lived her life.
Coco Chanel because she liberated women by raising hem lengths so they no longer needed help crossing the road.
Courtney Love because she inspired me so much when I was younger. No matter what crazy stuff she pulls, there's something about Courtney and what she used to be that means I'll always be a little bit in love with her.
And Joss Whedon because he gave me Buffy and I'm probably more inspired by good TV writing than books.
I wish I had a few people in here who'd helped find a cure for cancer or campaigned for world peace, but I'm a very shallow person.
6. Are your characters ever based on people you know?
Not really. Usually it's people that I don't really know but there's something intriguing about them or what they're doing and I file them in my head and drag them out at a later date for a vignette or an incidental character. It sounds vague but for instance, I was in New York last November at a really cool restaurant called Bette's waiting for the loo next to this louche girl with the most sooty eyelashes I've ever seen and she was so full of ennui because she was beautiful that I thought, "Oh, you are so going into a book of mine!"
7. How do you get your ideas? Are they ever based on real life experiences?
They just happen. Diary Of A Crush was inspired by the two years that I spent at college after my school asked me not to go back to do A-levels. It was a time when I was changing and blossoming and that was what Edie was going through too – though I never had a Dylan. Let's Get Lost was directly inspired by losing my mother and thinking to myself how much worse it would be to lose a parent when you were a teenager and in the middle of that process of pushing your parents away so you can learn to be your own person. But Fashionistas, my new series, is inspired by everything that's going on around me in the world; from America's Next Top Model to car-crash celebrities to New York to the size zero debate to reality TV stars to Project Runway to walking past shops selling Saris to internet It girls to Agyness Deyn to post-Communist Russia! Everything inspires me and causes my imagination to almost implode and I wouldn't have it any other way.
8. What is your favourite band? Does music ever inspire your writing?
The bands I never, ever get bored of are Belle And Sebastian, Saint Etienne, Velvet Underground, Hello Saferide (a new addition but she's a keeper) and my Growin' Up Too Fast 60's girl group collection. At the moment I'm listening to a lot of Swedish bands and old French pop – I'm very Continental!
Music is a huge part of my writing process. Sometimes one song becomes a theme for a book (like Broken Social Scene's Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl was for Let's Get Lost) but I always make a playlist for my main character and listen to it while I'm writing. It's hard at the moment as I'm writing Irina, the third book in the Fashionistas, and she's a Russian girl who listens to rap music, which I don't know much about.
9. Do you have any regrets?
Yes, but it's for the things I didn't do, not the things I did. Which is just how it should be!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
But what no one ever told me when I was a wide-eyed naif, was that being an adult also means having to do mind-numbing, stultifying tasks like filing your tax return. I won't go into the messy details but it involves filing cabinets, paper cuts, discovering that crucial pieces of paper have gone AWOL and having to be talked down from the ledge by my accountant. Finally, tonight with four documents still lost, I'm almost finished and a mere husk of the girl I used to be. See, this is what no one tells you about being a novelist. It's not glamourous or remotely rock 'n' roll although my accountants do also have The Kills and Fierce Panda Records on their books.
Jeez, I can't believe I'm blogging about my tax return. It's a personal low!
I have also been working for a living. I've been typing a lot; words to form sentences that might actually end up in print one day. I've just finished going through the page proofs of the second book in the Fashionistas series, Hadley. That means cutting down on the number of times that characters smirk or raise their eyebrows in a mocking kind of way. We've also finalised the marketing campaign for the first book, Laura (out in the UK, on July 17th, pre-order it from Amazon.co.uk today!) It's all very exciting and I'll tell you more details as I can, but this blog will be heavily involved.
Most importantly, I've realised that it's impossible to choose between Dean and Sam Winchester from Supernatural, so I decided that I love them both equally. This has restored a sense of calm to my life...
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I've had a spate of the "Please write another DOAC book/sequel to Guitar Girl/Let's Get Lost" comments - strangely no on ever asks for a sequel to Pretty Things. There's not really much I can say, apart from I have no plans to ever. I have explained why many times and have even tagged those entries, which you can see in the column to the left. I am really flattered that you love the books so much but they all ended exactly where they had to. I have other stories I want to tell and I'm not one of those writers who's happy to churn out umpteen books in a series, the quality slipping with every new release. If you want to find out what happens to Molly, I suggest that you read Let's Get Lost where she has a guest star role. I also have no intention of reproducing the Diary Of A Crush columns that featured Grace - for a very good reason. I don't own the copyright to them!Also, I don't think they're very good.
There's not much else to report. I am very busy as usual with a lot of freelance commissions for British ELLE and finishing the first draft of the third book in the Fashionista series, Irina. (Which does have an appearance from a much beloved character from one of my other books - I am such a tease.) I've also been spring-cleaning, probably as an excuse to put off work.
Before this post descends into absolutely no content, maybe a round up of my current cultural things?
I'm listening to
Lots of fey indie stuff: Maths And Physics Club, The Pines and you all need to go out and buy a copy of Lucky Soul's first album, The Great Unwanted for stirring, emotion-soaked, truly great pop songs that sound as if they've been languishing in a vault since the 60's.
The Gilmore Girls. Well, Life On Mars has finished now and I'm missing Gene's pimptastic white loafers but have pulled out all my Gilmore Girls boxed sets and have started re-watching it from the beginning. American readers will already know and love the genius of this show but British girls, you can get the DVDs really cheap and wish that Lorelai was your mum.
Edith Wharton, an American writer from over a hundred years ago who writes great snarky novels about heiresses falling on hard times and the snobbish, suffocating ways of uper crust New York society. It's research for a secret project. I've been having a hard time finding good books to read. Started lots of things (including the worst teen book I've ever read) and had to abandon them a few chapters in. I'm very excited though that I'll soon be getting my sticky hands on How Sassy Changed My Life, which is a book about Sassy, the greatest teen magazine in the world ever (apart from the first six issues of Ellegirl UK and J17 when it first went monthly!)Sassy was a huge influence on me and was one of the main reasons why I stopped writing about music and got a job on a teen mag.
Empire line dresses over very dark wash skinny-ish jeans and little cardies. I realised that smocks and trapeze dresses make me look like an elephant in the 22nd month of gestation. Really, are they flattering for anyone? And I found my ginormous Bottega Veneta sunglasses when I was spring-cleaning and love them because they make me look like an imperious fashion bitch.
So, that's the state of me. I'm sorry I didn't have time to put pretty pictures or links in this post, but I need to get back to my pesky deadlines so I can afford to eat this month.
Friday, March 30, 2007
But what really disheartened and disappointed me was that my post was about standing up for other girls and why we shouldn't hate on them. And instead I get hated on in the most ungirlfriendly terms. I realised the unpleasant truth that our biggest enemies can be other girls when we should all be sticking up for each other, and agreeing to disagree about corporate puppets co-opting our culture so they can shift more units.
So to get the nasty taste out of my mouth, I compiled a list of all the things I think are great about being a girl, from the serious to the frivolous. You can add your own in the comments. It's fun. And I'm so over the whole Avril thing - this week I'm mostly incensed about carbon emissions, so offload your hate somewhere else, because I have a delete option and I know how to use it.
WHY IT'S GREAT TO BE A GIRL
Because we’re made of sugar and spice and all things nice.
Because we can talk for hours about nothing at all or debate environmental issues if we feel like it.
Because nail varnish looks better on us.
Because we get to benefit from being the daughters and grand-daughters of feminists.
Because we always have the last word.
Because pink is a viable colour choice.
Because no-one can ever say to us, “Stop acting like a girl.”
Because it’s physically impossible for us to ignore a ringing phone.
Because we’re statistically smarter (as well as just about every other kind of smarter) than boys
Because we can scream very loud, very frequently.
Because we can have babies if we really want to. But only if we want to.
Because we can wear vintage dresses.
Because we number such illustrious personages as Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth 1, Beth Ditto and Marie Curie among out ranks.
Because we get to have the most amazing girls as our friends.
Because we experiment with eye shadows not drugs.
Because we live in an age where there is Marc Jacobs and Primark.
Because if all else fails, we can always accessorise with a smile.
Because we have fantastic role models all around us from Lisa Simpson to Hillary Clinton.
Because we know that 99% of all pop songs are written about us.
Because together we're strong.
Because the only reason that boys don't think we're funny is because our sense of humour is way more sophisticated than fart jokes.
Because we know the cathartic benefits of a good weep and a bucketload of chocolate.
Because no one and nothing can stop us from being who we want to be.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Busy. So very busy. With a bigass freelance commission and book-writing. I'm behind on everything and have a ton of outstanding messages on MySpace that I may get round to replying to one of these days. At this precise moment in time I'm waiting for someone to come round and turn off my leccy so he can install a fetching new kitchen light and take the kitchen door off so I can actually shift my 1940's dresser in there. It's going to be a wonderful moment when I can finally arrange my limited edition Andy Warhol glasses where people can actually see them.
Despite the general chaos and mounting deadlines, I did just want to rant about Avril Lavigne. She's not someone I have a lot of time for and her 'music' says nothing to me about my life. Also, I'm not buying the disaffected loner girl thing. When I was 16, I listened to Patti Smith, then Kristin Hersh and Courtney Love who wrote songs about what it was really like to be a mixed-up girl in a world that didn't like the mixed up. But I have to say that Ms Lavigne's new single, Girlfriend, has really got my hackles rising.
Hey Hey You You
I know that you like me
No way No way
No, it's not a secret
Hey Hey You You
I want to be your girlfriend
I can see the way
I see the way
You look at me
And even when you look away
I know you think of me
I know you talk about me all the time
again and again
So come over here
and tell me what I wanna hear
Better, yet, make your girlfriend disappear
I don't wanna hear you say her name
She's like so whatever
And you can do so much better
OK, it's catchy as a classroom of nits but the sentiment of the song is so un-girl-friendly that it makes me depressed. Avril Lavigne is just another cookie-cutter blonde starlet and all the carefully chosen Torrid-esque accessories and the fact that she can play three chords on her guitar doesn't change that. Because I think a girl who cared about her music and wanted it out in the world to change people's lives would use her powers for good. And slagging off other girls for daring to date boys who are cute is wrong. A whole damn load of wrong.
I'm not a riot grrrl (do they even exist any more?) I'm a feminist. I'm all about sticking up for girls, giving them a voice, inspiring and being inspired by girlkind. I don't always get it right but I think one of the most fundamental rules about being a girl is that you don't hate on other girls or steal their boyfriends or do other skeevy stuff that reflects badly on the rest of us.
And that's why this song royally pisses me off. God, don't even get me started on the video....
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
• Do you have your own website?
• Have you ever been recognised on the street because someone's seen your picture online?
• Do you run a messageboard or forum?
• Do you have an MP3 blog?
• Do you post pictures of your daily outfits?
• Have you ever dumped a boyfriend by changing the relationship status to single on your Facebook?
• Do you have more than a 1000 friends on your MySpace?
If the answer is 'yes' to more than two of these questions, I'd love to hear from you.
I'm writing a feature for a Sunday newspaper supplement about teenage girls and their internet usage; what they get up to online, what they blog about and their experiences both good and bad, whether they worry about who's reading their blogs or MySpaces, how important their online privacy is and simply, what do they love about the interpipe?
Alternately, I'm also looking for someone who's only just dipping a toe into the online world.
Like, I say, you must be in the UK, aged between 15 and 24 and female and willing to be interviewed in person or on the phone. We may also need to photograph you. (And if you're under 16, then you must get parental permission, them's the breaks!)
If you're interested, please leave a comment with your age, your email addy and a brief description of your online habits.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
It's very soggy, chilled and grey here in London. I wish Spring would just hurry up and sprung already.
As ever, thanks for all your comments, particularly about my new series Fashionistas. I can't wait for you to read the first book when it comes out in June. Or is it July? I never can remember! And thanks for all your other comments, though I have to remind you that leaving a comment here or at MySpace is the best way to contact me. If you do manage to dig out my email addy, I send back a pre-written email, which is a bit of a FAQ and also a reminder that this blog or MySpace are the official ways to contact me. While I'm on a reminding tip, there are a list of tags on this blog that will direct you to previous posts on writing tips, why there will never be a sequel to Diary Of A Crush and all sorts of other exciting topics. And links to all my interviews on the interpipe.
So at the moment I'm hard at work on the third book in the Fashionstas series, Irina, all about a surly Russian model, which is proving a great way to channel my aggression as I stick to my 2500 daily word quota.
It occurs to me that I haven't talked about the writing process for ages so I thought I'd do a post about research and how important it is to a writer. Being neither Russian or a model (and in this case, never having visited Japan which takes up a significant few chapters), to write this book and make it convincing meant that I had to do a lot of research. In an ideal world, I'd make enough money and have such great connections that I could just jump on a plane to Moscow or Tokyo or call Kate Moss for a little chat, but I don't so here are the less glam tricks of my trade.
I'm really lucky that I have a lot of contacts in the fashion industry so I've been going out for coffee with people who know more about this stuff than I do. (A little tip, I bought this little gizmo that I stick into my iPod, which turns it into a voice recorder.) My good friend Jill Wanless gave me loads of great stuff about modelling and what happens behind the scenes on fashion shoots. I was shocked that all the dramatic scenes I came up with weren't half as outlandish as some of the things that actually go on. I'm also incredibly lucky to know Iain R Webb, a really influentilal fashion writer and living legend. Iain actually worked for Russian Vogue and has visited Moscow so could give me a first hand account that I just couldn't get from my Rough Guide To Moscow. It's also been really helpful to be able to phone Jill up and ask inane questions like, "Is there anything that models usually take to go-sees?" Or "Could a size 10 girl realistically be a successful model?" I have to say that all my years of workong on fashion magazines and being bored stupid at photo shoots were also invaluable as I could use tons of things that actually happened that I've been saving up for ages.
I love the internet. You're all too young to remember life before it but it involved going to libraries and wading through card indexes or using cuttings agencies and still not finding what you were looking for. Google is a writer's best friend. Thanks to Google I could find out the time difference between here and Russia and how long the flight takes. Where the Prada in Moscow is and what does the street look like? Even what MacDonalds tastes like in Tokyo! I have to confess I get a bit eye-rolly when I get emails and messages, usually on book reports, asking me tons of questions and usually ending with the words, "I couldn't find anything about you on the internet!" In a fraction of the time, they could have put "sarra manning" in a google search and found out everything they neded to know, which is what I tell them to do when I reply!
My favourite two research webby tools are Wikipedia, which pretty much has the facts on anything and everything. Someone's even Wiki-ed me! My other must-have is the bookmark site delicious. When I find a site or an online article (even a cookie recipe) that I know I'll need at a later date, I just click on the del.icio.us button I've installed on my toolbar and bookmark the site, but I can also organise all my bookmarks into tags like 'Russia' or 'Fashionistas'.
I think peple can be really up themselves about research. It can be fun too! Fr'instance I got to re-watch Lost In Translation to actually see what Tokyo was like and watched the special 'making of' feature on the DVD too. Hey, it gave me lots of colour that I could put into the book as well so who's to say that it's not proper research? I also watched a way dark film called Lilya 4 ever, which was a great insight into the seedy side of post-Soviet Russia. What's weird is that all of a sudden everything you watch is relevant. Like, this week's episode of UK teen drama Skins saw them going off on a school visit to Russia, while there's that really annoying Russian girl on the new series of ANTM! When I was writing the second book, Hadley, about a former child star turned partying club kid, there were bits of gossip I read on celeb blogs that went straight into the book, including the fantastic quote, "Urgh, don't talk to me like I'm a normal person!" I guess Hadley is based on a composite of maybe three or four different celebrities and the crazy shit that they got up to while I was working on the book was absolute writer's gold.
Something else I've always done is have a big stack of magazine articles in a folder - for the last 18 months that I've been writing Fashionstas, I've kept every interview I've found with a model, or a feature on the fashion industry, or the New York club scene or 'internet It girl' Cory Kennedy. Though I've stopped reading pieces on the size zero debate because, hello, so over it.
I've also been listening to The Research a lot! But I think the two things may be unconnected.
Love Sarra x
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Finally, after months and months, I'm absolutely chuffed to be able to tell you about my latest book. I've been working on a four-novel sequential series called Fashionistas about four girls sharing a flat in London who are all signed to the Fierce Talent Agency; two of them are models, one of them is an ex-child star trying to re-launch her career and one of them is a reality TV celebrity with punk rock icons for parents.
The first book, Laura is published on July 17th, 2007, with the second book, Hadley on 20th September 2007, then Irina, which I've just started writing in January 2008 and finishing up with Candy in March 2008. (As yet, there's no news of US publication dates.)
All the covers have been illustrated by the talented Ray Smith who also did the UK covers of Pretty Things and the beautiful Let's Get Lost.
And this is a little taster of what you can expect from the first book:
Beating 12,000 other girls to become the newest model on Fierce's books is Laura's dream come true. But she knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. She's gorgeous – everyone thinks so.
But once the thrill of winning has faded, Laura is alone in London, in a shoebox bedroom with three fame-hungry flatmates. Being beautiful doesn't seem enough now… not when her booker thinks she's way too fat, and her devoted boyfriend isn't the rock she thought he was.
Laura's got to make some difficult decisions. And time is running out…
I'll be posting some sneak previews from Laura in the next few months but right now I'm about to go off and make myself purty for a big night out!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
But this week, I was searching through my hard disk and realised that I have a ton of articles that might amuse and entertain you. Most of them were written for UK magazines that have since closed. (Such is a writer's lot in life!) This is one of my favourite ever pieces, written for the wonderful Minx magazine, which was like a cross between Bust and old skool J17. There'll be more to come...
Head/ Minx of the month
Sell/ Lisa Simpson: she's yellow but she ain't yellow…
Lisa Simpson is a paradox. We're talking about a girl who's yellow, has weird pointy hair, favours strapless, orange dresses with uneven hems and has three fingers on each hand. She also has Homer Simpson as her paternal signifier. But despite (or maybe because of) these insurmountable obstacles, Lisa has triumphed.
Unswerving in her feminist beliefs, Lisa's still uncynical enough to believe that she can really make a difference. When her favourite doll, Malibu Stacey is marketed with a voicebox which utters such Pammyisms as "Don't ask me I'm just a girl, ha ha", it's Lisa who takes on the might of Malibu Stacey Inc and persuades the pseudo-Barbie's creator to make a new doll with a feminist conscience.
Lisa's righteousness - that same righteousness that we used to have before we discovered the magical diversions of expensive cosmetics and vodka - knows no bounds. She debunks the myth of Jebediah Springfield, even though her teacher labels her a PC thug. She trains Bart in the ways of Zen to make him a crazy golf champion. Hell, she even enrolls in a military academy when the second grade of Springfield Elementary School fails to stimulate her intellectual neurons.
The only blip in Lisa's otherwise faultless world is that she doesn't have many friends. Her yearbook is nowt but a collection of loser accolades and pristine pages lacking autographs, but after a fortnight at the beach (in the Summer Of 4ft 2), Lisa makes buds, not with her newly acquired wardrobe of happening threads, but because she teaches her new pals "about nature and why you shouldn't drink sea water."
Without wanting to be too tree-hugger about it, Lisa ain't afraid to get real - she doesn't shield her oddness, she wears her oddness like a shield. Like, Lisa's still young enough to write really bad poetry ("I had a cat called Fluffy, she died, she died/Mom said she was sleeping, she lied, she lied". But she's mature enough to realise that even brainiacs need to shake their thang too, whether she's duetting with Bart on The Theme From Shaft, guffawing at the slasher antics of Itchy And Scratchy or persuading her prototype riot grrrl acquaintances to capture Bart and slather him in make-up.
What makes Lisa so cool is knowing that when she grows up she's going to totally rock, either as a lipstick feminist with a controversial theory about date rape or as an angst ridden, guitar-wielding pop-type. OK, the reality is that Lisa is perpetually eight, but we can wish all our wildest teen ambitions on Lisa's sloping shoulders.
So, how come Lisa turns out to be such a Grade 1 wuss? In Lisa's Wedding, set in 2010, La Simpson's a "humourless vegetarian" post-graduate about to marry a Hugh Grant-alike who's had a copy of Burke's Peerage inserted up his rectum. And, way worse than that, she lost her virginity to Bart's terminally geeky pal, Millhouse. Sorry, Mr Groening, we just don't buy it.
We might have lost our faith but Lisa will always ooze conviction from every single one of her little, saffron pores. Maybe that's why we love her - 'cause there's a little bit of Lisa in us all.
Lisa Simpson, iconoclast, poet, idealist, feminist warrior - we salute you.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Very busy right now. Very, very busy. Every time I turn my head there's another manuscript that needs editing or a big piece for a magazine to write. Not that I'm complaining. Except actually I am. Loudly and frequently because it's that very special time in a girl's month. I think you know what I'm saying!
Right now though, the video above is causing me much joy. Little Korean kids playing marimbas really fast. I've never tried adding a video this blog, so fingers crossed it works. And I've bagsied the little one on the end, playing the tambourine.
I've also added a couple of links to the list on the right. My friend Kate now has her own blog raving about all the weird, esoteric stuff she likes. And my friend Amy makes beautiful, customised purses that you can buy.
Now I'm off to listen to ELO and do some work...
Monday, January 22, 2007
I have a bad head cold. I am blaming this squarely on majorly cutting back on my nicotine consumption. Yes, I smoke and actually it's not as big and clever as I used to think it was. Also really expensive. Don't start, OK?
Anyway, I'm a bit sinus-y and headache-y and very snotty and I feel sorry for myself but I kinda like having colds; they're quite comforting maladies I always find because:
1. I like my sexy, croaky phlegm voice.
2. I go really pale.
3. It doesn't matter if I don't have my usual three showers a day as I can't smell myself if I am starting to hum.
4. I lose my sense of taste (that happened at about 2.30 yesterday afternoon), which means I lose my appetite which cancels out not being able to go to the gym.
5. I like the challenge of chic comfort dressing. Today I'm wearing a long-sleeved thermal vest under a black and white polka dot sundress with a bright red cardiegan, thick black tights and Uggs. Plus my skinny scarf (that looks like it could have come from Sonia Rykiel) wrapped around my neck. Though I am resisting the urge to climb back into my modal sleepwear.
6. I sleep a lot when I have a cold. Instead of five to six fitful hours of slumber, I get between eight and nine. This is why I buy the only cold caplets I can find that have no caffiene in them - this is harder than you might think.
7. Plus, I make a concerted effort to go to bed with two furry hot water bottles; one for my feet and one for my chest.
8. It would also be a good excuse not to do any work but I have a frighteningly over-developed work ethic. Luckily reading Nancy Mitford's biography of Madame de Pompadour counts as work, if you're me. Our Nance knows how to write a biography. It's gossipy, trivial and I get the feeling that historical accuracy was not her main priority, which suits me just fine.
Having been all glass half-full, I should point out that I also feel like a raw-faced zombie.
And I should also point out that I added some software to this blog so I could reply directly to comments posted and it's wiped all the comments instead! All of them! Every single one! And I still can't reply to individual comments but such is the price of progress.
Finally, though I can take or leave their music, I currently have a massive crush on the lead singer of The Feeling. Oooh, he's so stern-looking and whippet-like.
Tell me who YOU have a massive crush on? It will take my mind off the huge pile of soggy tissues I'm collecting...
Monday, January 15, 2007
Why yes, there is a shiny, new look to this blog with many added features. For good reason.
I've been absolutely swamped with emails and comments and MySpace messages over the last few weeks. I love, love, love hearing from you. I do. And I appreciate that you pour your hearts out and that my books mean a lot to you. It makes me feel very humble and honoured.
But the amount of things hitting my in-box has reached critical mass. I'm up to my elbows in my new series, but I'm also a jobbing journalist with freelance articles to write to keep the mortgage paid! This adds up to not a huge amount of time.
There's also the very thorny topic that I get asked the same three questions over and over and over again.
1. Please, please, please write more Diary Of A Crush/Guitar Girl/Let's Get Lost books.
2. I'm doing a book report and need some vague information on you that I haven't bothered to google.
3. Can I have some writing tips?
I have answered these questions many, many times on this blog. Many times. But I realise it can be very hard to trawl through the archives if you don't know what you're looking for. So, at first I considered just writing a FAQ and giving up the blogging, or else I would just be replying to the same questions all the time.
But I didn't want to do that. I like blogging. And I like blogging to you and reading your comments and finding out about what's going on in your life. I don't get time to reply to everyone but I read them all. I can't stress that enough.
So, I decided to use the new features at blogspot to hopefully make everyone happy. As well as a new layout, I've spent two whole days of my life going back and labelling all of my entries. You can see the labels to the left of you. Now, to find out why there are no more Diary Of A Crush books you can simply click on the labels: Diary Of A Crush or NO MORE SEQUELS and all will be explained.
I've also added a links list (also on the left, though you may have to scroll down to find it) with lots of me on the interpipe, from interviews to podcasts to my publishers' micro-sites. There's also a whole ton of other links for my favourite bands, magazines and people.
THE MYSPACE BLOG
I've decided to stop cross-posting to my blog at MySpace. I'm still on MySpace and always happy to add new friends and read (and even reply occasionally!) to messages there. But the blogspot template with the labelling and whatnot makes it more pratical to just blog here.
I hope that these nifty little things will help you find what you're looking for and it will make it easier for me to direct people to the right place. Though if I get one more email about a fourth Diary Of A Crush book, my brain may just leak out of my nostrils.
I guess the one thing I hate about blogspot is that there's no option so I can reply to specific comments. I either have to add a comment to my own post or try to pick up your questions on the next blog posting.
Anyway, there's lots here for you to take in. But, I'm still here. I'll still be posting all sorts of lists of stuff I'm into and a whole other bunch of rambly crap and book news, excerpts and gossip. I'm not going anywhere and please don't you either! I would be interested to know what you think of the new look blog and if you have any other tips or ideas of things I can do to make your blogging experience better.