Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Great Big, It's Fricking Chrismukkah Quiz...



I promised a surprise and here it is! It's a quiz. A very special quiz with a very special prize. Fifty questions all about my books and one lucky winner will get signed set of the newly re-jacketed Diary Of A Crush books. (That's them at the top of the page and that is the Arc de Triomphe on French Kiss - it was meant to be the Eiffel Tower, but let's not go there or else I will start to cry tears of impotent rage!) If more than one person gets all (or the same number) of questions right and I like what you do with the tie-breaker, I'll be sending out more than one signed set of the Diary Of A Crush books.

* Just put your answers in a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! I screen my blog comments so your email addy will be safe with me and there's no way anyone can cheat and look up the answers.

* The closing date for the competition is January 10th so you have time to re-read all the books and/or go out and buy the ones you've missed.

* I know Fashionistas is not readily available in the States, apart from on but it would have been too hard to do fifty questions and not include Fashionistas. I do apologise, but read my last post to see that there are compensations to being an American Sarra Manning reader.

On with the quiz...



1. In Guitar Girl, what is the name of Molly's band?
2. What city is Diary Of A Crush set in?
3. How old is Isabel in Let's Get Lost?
4. Name the four main characters in Pretty Things.
5. Who's Edie's crush object?
6. Which part of London is the Fashionista flat?
7. What's Hadley Fashionista's surname?
8. What's the name of Isabel's little brother?
9. Name all three books in the Diary Of A Crush trilogy.
10. What is Walker's nickname?


1. The second time they meet, Smith and Isabel swap which items of high tech gadgetry?
2. Who are David and Bette Careless?
3. Which Shakespeare play is performed in Pretty Things?
4. And name our quartet's drama tutor/director.
5. What is the first thing that Dylan ever says to Edie?
6. Where is Hadley's dad?
7. At the end of Guitar Girl, what does Molly get given by her heroine, Ruby X?
8. Laura and Irina compete to become the face of which perfume?
9. What's Edie and Poppy's band called?
10. What does Isabel's dad do for a living?


1. What is Carter's first name?
2. Why does Dean walk Molly home after they've been out for a Christmas drink?
3. Name the pub that Walker and Daisy hole up in and where they end up spending the night?
4. What is the dish that Isabel orders in the Chinese restaurant in Camden?
5. Who's the female host of Make Me A Model?
6. When Hadley was the subject of a tabloid kiss 'n' tell, what new surname did the newspapers give her?
7. Which fizzy drink rarely leaves Brie's side?
8. What's the name of the hotel that Edie and pals stay in when they go to Paris?
9. What song becomes The Hormones' only number one record?
10. Where does Alfie hold his fashion show?


1. Who illustrated the covers of Let's Let Lost, Pretty Things and the four Fashionista titles?
2. Isabel is named after Isabel Archer, the heroine of a Henry James' novel called _________ __ _ ____?
3. In which town in Mississippi did Dylan abandon Edie on their road trip?
4. Which fancy designer store was Irina caught shoplifting from?
5. Which cassette was stuck in the tape player in Walker's Mum's car?
6. Name the three other members of Isabel's Trio Of Evil.
7. In Let's Get Lost, what is the name of Molly's new band?
8. Whas was the theme tune of Hadley's TV show called?
9. Why did Candy Careless go to Shanghai?
10. What's Dylan's surname?


1. Laura's friends have a video footage of her singing which song at Karaoke?
2. Which famous New York club (now closed) did The Hormones play their showcase gig at?
3. What word did Charlie (in Pretty Things) have on his t-shirt?
4. Who designed the size eight dress that Laura nicked from Irina?
5. What's the name of Isabel's guidance counsellor?
6. When Candy goes round to Alfie's house, what does his Mum make for dinner? (A extra point if you include pudding too?)
7. We all know Molly (and Jane) guest stars in Let's Get Lost but someone else from Guitar Girl also gets a mention, who is it?
8. Name all of Irina's siblings.
9. What were the three Diary Of A Books called when they were originally given away with J-17 magazine?
10. Sarra has written one other novel not mentioned in this quiz or anywhere on her blog. What is it called? (And no, it's not Unsticky!)


If you could be any character in any one of Sarra's books, who would you be and why?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Does this blog post make me look fat?

Happy Holidays, readers!

In the next couple of days I'll be posting an extra special thing that will thrill, delight and astound you. That's the general plan, anyway!

But in the meantime, I just wanted to shout out to my North American readers, that includes you kooky Canucks, to let you know I have a short story, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, in a wonderful collection called Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? I'm in the company of some amazing writers like Megan McCaffery, Ellen Hopkins and Jaclyn Moriarty. It's out on December 29th.

Sadly, it's not currently available on, but maybe by the time the paperback comes out later in the year, that may change. And my poor American readers never got a US release of Fashionistas (I'm hoping that the new year may rectify that) so it's all swings and roundabouts.

Anyway, make sure you visit this blog regularly in the next few days so you don't miss my surprise.

Live on

Sarra x

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tis the season...

Greetings to one and all!

Winter is upon us, Chrismukkah is just around the corner and I still haven't sent off my mammoth Amazon order to ensure that all my presents will arrive in a timely fashion and I don't have to slip IOU's into my cards.

This is the season for many things:

* Norwegian formula hand cream

* Long-sleeved black thermal vests under everything I wear

* Home-made soup

* Suddenly having masses of work that needs to be finished in the run-up to the holidays. This year it's a 900 page copy-edited manuscript of the adult book that needs to be checked like yesterday.

* Phil Spector's Christmas album. Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is my all-time favourite Christmas song, closely followed by Hello Saferide's iPod X-Mas.

* Mince pies - this is a British thing, right? 'Cause they don't have actual mince in them but a delightful confection of raisins, apples and other sweet stuff that makes a delightful brown, sticky paste. Don't like the ones with the candied peel though. Urgh!

* Thick black woolly tights - though actually not wool because I'm allergic. Thinking of branching out into coloured tights this year, possibly a muted teal blue or a cranberry colour.

* Freezing my arse off at bus-stops long past midnight.

* Furry hot water bottles.

Alas, this is also the season when my American readers are all told by their English teachers to do book reports that feature an interview with an author. I've had 15 requests this week so far (and it's only Wednesday) to answer questions but I'm afraid it's just not possible. Lord, I'd never get any other work done! But, if you look through the tags and links on this here blog, I can pretty much guarantee you that you'll find all the information you need on me, my books and my writing process. Hope I don't seem like an old curmudgeon and one day I hope to have a proper, pretty website with an FAQ and things arranged for optimum ease of use. One day...

Check back here in the next few days for my annual Christmas surprise. It might be a sneak preview of something or a little DVD extra-style thing to do with one of my books, or even a competition.

And remember, books by Sarra Manning make excellent gifts!

Live on

Sarra x

Monday, November 10, 2008

The beast, it wakes!

Photo by Sandra Löv.

Sayonora, sweetlings!

I'm back! I have survived the the mammoth revisions of the grown-up book and can say no more about the experience because it's too traumatising. I've also been doing a ton of magazine-y stuff, which I'll let you know about as and when it's out - though actually I think I have a piece in the new Grazia out tomorrow. But I feel liberated from the yoke of rewriting and can go out now and be social. I also need to get back to the new teen novel, which I cruelly abandoned and I'm looking forward to re-reading the first few chapters, then diving back in.

By the way, I dimly recall a couple of people asking me questions about writing stuff. Namely, how long a book should be? Well, it's actually NaNoWriMo (National Write A Novel In A Month) and their rules state that a novel is 75,000 words, but I tend to way over write. Even turning in a teen book under 100,000 words is an effort and the adult book is currently 175,000 words but that's just me! It really depends on doing your chapter outline and writing as many words as you need to tell your story.

Someone also asked me what font or typeface I write in. I tend to go for something quite plain and unfiddly like Geneva or Helvetica, though I do have a soft spot for the old skool Courier too.

In other news, I think a list of my current popular culture faves is long overdue:

I'm currently listening to

Hello Saferide - More Modern Short Stories From...

I had to order this from Sweden but I got a signed copy so that was rather neat, but it is available on iTunes. I love the title of this album as I always think of her songs as like mini novellas. She manages to say in three verses and a chorus what it takes me a whole book to do. My favourite tracks are X Telling Me About the Loss Of Something Dear, At Age 16, which is about a girl losing her virginity and closing her eyes and thinking of dancers. Then there's I Wonder Who Is Like This One, which is about how people are like songs and the people who are like God Only Knows are keepers. (I wish I was a God Only Knows Person.) I also like Lund, which is another snippet into the mind of a teenage girl singing about two brothers who come to visit her and look down on her because "I was too young, not interesting at all" and I linked to the single, Anna on my last post. I really do love Hello Saferide and if and when they play London, I will be there with knobs on, possibly singing along and crying at the same times.

The Priscillas - 10,000 Volts

This is my friend Kate's band so I have a special advance copy of their new album, which is really rather shockingly good. The next single is All The Way To Holloway, which I can appreciate being North London born and bred and just so you know, Amy Winehouse totally stole their look and now they've had to retire their beehives.

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Not loving it quite so much as Rabbit Fur Coat, but I think it's a grower.

I'm currently reading

Or rather I've just read an out-of-print Virgao Modern Classic, The Brontes Went To Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson, a story about a rock 'n' roll band and kidnapping kangaroos and a complaint call centre called You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem and have just started Jay McInerney's Brightness Falls. But I also read The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, which I recced on my summer reading lists. Did anyone else read it? Did you love it as much as I did>

I'm currently watching

Lots of things, all American, which I acquire by illegal means so probably best not to discuss them here.

I'm currently wasting time

Playing far too much Scramble on Facebook. I think I need a 12-step programme.

So, that's about it for now. I promise to update much more regularly from now on, unless I have more copious novel revisions in my very near future.

Live on

Sarra x

Monday, October 20, 2008

She could have been a sweetheart but with punk rock manners...


I am alive. But very busy doing hideous rewrites and edits on grown-up books and as much freelance work as I can get my hands on because, oh my God, credit crunch!

I will be back soon enough, in the meantime, here's a song to fall in love with.

Live on

Sarra x

(I should point out that I don't actually resemble the photo above when I'm working. The smile alone should make that obvious, though I am wearing a nice vintage dress today to put myself in a work frame of mind. Hmmm, not sure if it's really helping though!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weeps softly


I am still alive. Just. Though it's been so long without sunshine in Blighty that I feel like taking to my bed and staying there for a while.

And then I read this on the interpipes. I'm definitely taking to my bed now, possibly with an eau de cologne-soaked handkerchief draped decoratively over my forehead.

Really not much to report except I'm well under way with my new teen opus.Like, 10,000 words in and rather taken with my heroine. I don't have a title as yet but I want it to be lovely and evocative and magical. Not much to ask from a title really.

Oh yes, and you can still vote for me in the Queen Of Teen thingy. Or else you could all wait until Lauren Conrad has her first novel out and vote for her instead. See if I care!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer Reading List (Part Three - Odds and sods and odd sods)

Hola Senoritas!

Since last we talked I've become a platinum blonde (I went from black to brassy blonde a couple of months ago,) had a birthday and started my next teen opus. It only has a working title but it's a standalone and I'm very excited about it. I love my heroine and it feels so good to write in the first person again. Also, not to be writing a series, because I'm never doing one of them again. Not ever. You hear me? Not ever!

Anyways, here's the last lot of recommended reads for your viewing pleasure. These are some of my favourite books that I've come back to again and again. Old friends, if you will.

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I've lost count of the number of times I've read this book, but every time I do, I get something completely different from it. It's the story of six Classic students at a small college in Vermont who, when they're not immersing themselves in the book learning, accidentally murder someone. This sets them on a path of more murder and mayhem as they try to cover their tracks. It's not so much a thriller as a wonderfully written study of six really diverse people. I'm not explaining it so well, but it's one of those books that drags you into its world and doesn't let you go until it's good and ready. But I would say maybe not suitable for under 16's, not because it's really rude but you might not get it. I could be wrong though - I usually am!

2. Girlfriend In A Coma by Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is one of my favourite writers. I've read all of his books but he can be a bit patchy so some of them I love (it was a toss up between this and Microserfs) and some of them, I'm all like, "Oh Douglas, you can do so much better than this!" Not only is Girlfriend In A Coma named after a Smith's song, it's another book that imprints itself into your psyche while you're reading it. The book is narrated by a boy whose pregnant teenage girlfriend slips into a mysterious coma and doesn't come out of it for many years later to a world that's changed beyond all recognition. I guess loosely it's sci-fi but actually I hate sci-fi so there's no robots or spaceships or vampires that sparkle in sunlight. The first time I read this book, I dreamt about it every night and that's not to be underestimated!

3. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The first time I read this book as soon as I finished it, I started re-reading it. Yup, it's really that good. I nearly didn't buy it because I can't be doing with time travel and I do really hate sci-fi but it was nothing like that at all. The Time Travellers has some weirdy genetic mutation that hurtles him in and out of hs own timeline so he first meets his wife when she's a little girl and he's married to her in the future. It's really sad because you know what's going to happen to him but the people around him don't. And FYI, time travel isn't much fun when you hurtle through the time space continuum and arrive at some unspecified place in the future or the past butt naked and bruised. God, this is such a bloody good book!

4. The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Yes, I know this is a book for little kids but if you haven't read it, you must. Now. Right away! Run to your nearest bookshop! This had all my bulletproof kinks when I was a kidlet. The heroine is an orphan. There are really wicked villains who get right up in her grill like the evil Miss Slighcarp. It's set in a boarding school. And there's triumph over adversity in the end. Y'know, all the good stuff!

5. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

I thought I'd finish with something a little different so this is a book I haven't actually read but it's on my teetering pile of books I want to read. It's about a flighty, funny, fiercely witty American girl who goes to Paris in the 50's so she can drink brandy in Left Bank cafes and meet unsuitable men. What's not to love?

This isn't a complete list. There are books I love that are out of print, or that I couldn't tell you to read in good conscience because they're not suitable for teenagers (not that that ever stopped me!) or because even though I love them it's because of where and when I was in my life at the time and they probably wouldn't mean as much to anyone else.

And there are also much loved books I've already recced
and here
and here
And for some really amazing old skool teen books (or YA fiction as you Americans call it), I heartily recommend's Fine Lines feature on a Friday afternoon. Actually, I just love because it reminds me of Sassy and Jane when it was really good and all the things I loved about writing for magazines in the days when we were pretty much allowed to do what we wanted. Sigh. You can find all of Jezebl's Fine Lines columns here. As they would say, I'm not afraid to be service-y!

OK, that's all from me for now. And yes, you can still vote me for in the Queen Of Teen competition if you so desire.

Live on

Sarra x

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Summer Reading List (Part Two - Difficult women)

Is anyone even reading my humble blog offerings anymore or are you all sunning yourself in foreign climes?

Anyways, on Friday I delivered my first grown-up book, except today I decided there were at least two chapters that needed to be completely rewritten. But mostly it's done and as Dusty once sang, I just don't know what to do with myself. Tomorrow I will probably start my next teen book as I don't believe in taking writing breaks; it's a heady combination of an over-developed work ethic, credit crunch hysteria and Jewish guilt. Be very glad you're not me!

So, I finally have time to post the second part of my reading recs. There will be other parts to come, but this time I wanted to focus on my favourite female writers. In fact, with a few notable exceptions, all my favourite writers are women. People can be quite sniffy about writing for women and the themes women writers explore, but I want to read about relationships, shopping, food, sex, friendships, clothes and life and death and everything in between. I don't like reading about people blowing each other up, anything too sci-fi-ish or fantasy and crime. But that's just a personal preference and really? The only difference between female writing and male writing is that they're written by different sexes. Neither one is less or more than the other, but the writers I mostly come back to are stubborn, difficult women who write about other stubborn, difficult women, because I am one. So, here we go:

1. The Collected Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker was a noted wit in the 1920's, who was thwarted in love, drank too much and hung out with the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald. She never wrote a full-length novel, but all her short stories, poems and book reviews are gathered in this compendium. You probably already know of her as she wrote the famous epiphet, "Men never makes passes/At girls in glasses," but she's so much more than that. Her stories are always funny, but have this black edge running through them and actually the New York of her 1920's in very similar to the New York of Gossip Girl in that underneath all the style and shallowness, there's something sad and unhappy lurking underneath. God, Blair Waldorf is the spiritual great-grand-daughter of Dottie P!

2. The Pursuit Of Love and Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

I'm absolutely obsessed with the Mitford Sisters, six debutantes who shocked England with their antics. Though I have no time for Unity Mitford, who was in love with Hitler, or Diana Mitford, who married Oswald Moseley leader of the British fascists. But I love Jessica Mitford who eloped with her Communist cousin when she was 17 and I adore Nancy who wrote two of my favourite novels, The Pursuit Of Love and Love In A Cold Climate. These are not sappy romances, but mannered, elegant stories about love and the upper classes and are full of wit and acid observations but, as usual, have this core of hopeful sadness running through them.

3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

A shy, timid slip of a girl meets a much older, rich man and marries him, as you do. He takes her back to his big, creepy house, Manderlay, which is managed by his equally creepy housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, and the second Mrs De Winter (we never discover her first name!) starts to piece together how his first wife, Rebecca died. You should also check out the film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which is just as spooky and atmospheric as this book.

4. Edie: An American Biography by Jean Stein

When I was 17, I was besotted with Edie Sedgwick, a superstar created by pop artist, Andy Warhol. Edie came from a really wealthy, completely bonkers East Coast family, did a spell in a psychiatric hospital and came to New York. She cut and died her hair silver to match Andy Warhol's, starred in his pretentious movies, had an affair with Bob Dylan (his album Blonde On Blonde is rumoured to be about Edie)and did copious amounts of drugs. She was a doomed, tragic little girl lost and I thought she was wonderful! This biography tells the story of Edie's life through the anecdotes and
memories of the people who knew her. And let's not mention the film, Factory Girl, OK?

There may be more. I'm sure there's more, but my brain currently feels like blancmange (it's been a rather erm, alcoholic weekend!) so I'm going to post and be damned and maybe come back to this in a day or so.

And don't forget to vote for me in the Queen Of Teen thingy.

Live on

S x

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vote for me!

As some of you know, I'm on the shortlist for the Book People's Queen Of Teen award.
If you're 18 or under you can vote for me here

I'm in some pretty illustrious, best-selling company, but still it would be nice to get upgraded from princess to queen! There could even be a tiara involved and I've always wanted one of them.

Thanking you in advance

Sarra x

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer reading list (Part One - The Classics)

Finally, in the downtime between the second and third drafts of the grown up book and filing my business taxes (because being a writer is dead glamorous), I have found an hour to compile some book recs. It will be a part work, because there are so damn many of them.

So, I'm starting with the classics. Those books of yore that you might even have to study at school and always end up on those 100 Books That Everyone Should Read lists - there's a reason for that; it's because they're magical, life-changing books. But here's my take on them.

1. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith"

Ignore the fact that she also wrote 101 Dalmations, which actually I love, and the terrible film they made of this book, I Capture The Castle is one of the most poignant coming of age books. Which means the main character, Cassandra, is dreamy and insular and given to flights of fancy to escape her life of genteel poverty, unrequited love and a beautiful older sister. The last paragraph makes me cry every time I read this book and I've probably read it about ten times.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I actually did this book for GCSE English when I was but a mere slip of a girl even that wasn't enough to ruin it for me! And of course you all know that I love it as one Atticus Smith from Let's Get Lost was named for Atticus Finch, the lawyer pa of Scout who defends a black man in 1930's Alabama against charges that he raped a white woman. Not only is it a really powerful story about civil rights, or the lack of them, it's about being a kid on long, hot days when the summer stretches out before you but by the time the first leaves fall from the tree, you've lost some of your childhood innocence as you realise what an ugly place the world can be. It always reminds me of that line from The Breakfast Club, "When you grow up, your heart dies."

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I went through a huge Plath phase during my turbulent teen years. Like, always carrying her Collected Poems with me, going on pilgrimages to Chalcot Square, hating on Ted Hughes, writing my own sub-par Plath-esque poetry and, on one occasion, dragging a poor friend to a really bad play about La Plath at a theatre in a pub. Lord, I was one pretentious little bitch! That said, it's been years since I read The Bell Jar but it should be compulsory reading for all teenage girls with writerly aspirations. Basically, Esther Greenwood (but really Plath herself) wins a magazine writing contest and spends a summer in New York interning for them, with 11 other girls. She almost gets date-raped in a car park, has a really bad experience losing her virginity, then has a nervous breakdown. Why, it's a laugh on every page! Except, it's not but you should probably read it, because all us moody girls who like to wear too much black should.

4. The Catcher In The Rye

I always think of The Catcher In The Rye as a companion book to The Bell Jar, or the boy version of The Bell Jar. Holden Caulfield is one of the most biting, angry voices I've ever read. Holden is a deeply troubled teenager, scarred by the death of his perfect older brother and bumming around New York for a couple of days after geting kicked out of his expensive boarding school. It occurs to me that so many of these books are about disaffected youths who get stuck as they make the transition to a scary, grown-up world. Like, the loss of innocence that makes you an adult is a catastrophe for them. Holden moves through life as if the top layer of his skin has been shaved off so he feels everything too deeply, while at the same time he's almost numb. Or actually obsessed with the phoniness he sees in the people around him. I loved The Catcher In The Rye when I was going through adolescence but as I got older, Salinger's other books about The Glass family (Raise High The Roof Beam Carpenters and Franny And Zooey) are the ones I come back to time after time.

5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Not my favourite Austen, which would either be Emma or Pride And Prejudice but this was Miss Austen's first novel and I think it's a good place to start for anyone who's a bit wary of books written in Ye Olden Dayes. Catherine Moreland is a 17-year-old girl obsessed with gothic romance novels. No, not like Twilight! Well, actually, yes exactly like Twilight but in Miss Austen's day these were melodramatic novels about haunted houses and heroines with heaving bosoms tormented by the ghosts of evil landowners and doomed lovers. Catherine has to separate fantasy from reality in her own search for love, which is something I've never managed to do. Now, in life I think you're either a Bronte fan or an Austen fan and I'm Austen all the way. I can't be doing with all that mopping and mowing about the moors and orphanages and madwomen in attics. Whereas with Miss Austen's novels, there's a lightness and elegance to them and I think her heroines are truly modern young women refusing to give up their dreams and settling for anything less than what they truly deserve. In fact, you can still relate to all her characters some three hundred years later, apart from Fanny Price in Mansfield Park who's stuck-up little prig. Please don't be put off by the language. The secret is to get into the rhythm of her writing and it doesn't matter if you don't perfectly understand each sentence, because all of a sudden you just get caught up and lifted away by the story and woah, you're an Austen girl. Welcome to our club. Another three members and I get the toaster oven.

6. Bonjour Tristesse by Francois Sagan

Literally translated as Hello Sadness. A story about une jeune fille de France just as a change of pace. Again, a crazy teenage girl going through crazy teenage things but she's French so it's all the more crazy and sophisticated. Oh la la!

7. Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Much, much darker than the film, Holly Golightly is a little girl lost in the Big Apple, running from her past and trying to find solace in a world of parties and rich men. Which never ends well.

Well, that's enough to be getting on with. I shall be back with more fabulous books for you to read and fall in love with. But right now, I have to write a letter to my accountant...

Live on

Sarra x

Friday, June 13, 2008

18 things to do before you're 18...

Greetings, senoritas

OK, I am going to compile a summer reading list in the next couple of weeks, but it needs careful thought and consideration. I've compiled another list for you, because it was fun and I welcome all distractions as I trudge through the dark hinterlands of second draft hell. Oh, yes.

Also, someone left a comment asking me if I have to pay to mention songs or bands in my books. Well, I don't have to pay to simply name check bands or song titles, but if I use a quote, like I usually do at the beginning of each novel, I have to pay! Hmm, actually I can think of two instances when I didn't, but I should have. Basically, all words that have been written or recorded or broadcast are under copyright so you have to get permission of the copyright holder (usually that artiste's publishing company) to use them. Then they send you an invoice! How much, depends on the artiste. Pablo
Neruda's (one of the arguably greatest poets of all time) estate charged me £60 to quote from one of his poems in Let's Get Lost, while a whiny, moperock band who shall remain nameless charged me three times that to quote one line. Them's there the breaks!

On to listage:

18 things to do before you're 18

1. Dyed your hair an outrageous, impractical colour. My hair had definitely been pink, blue and a fiery red before I was old enough to vote.

2. Stayed up all night – even if it's because you ate too much food with a high sugar content at a sleepover, but there's nothing like watching the sun come up to give life a new perspective.

3. Stayed out all night – obviously not something to do if you're, like, 13. Or you're no good at lying to your parents.

4. Read all of Jane Austen's novels. Yes, all of them! And don't be giving me any nonsense that they're written in Olde English (they're not) or they're boring (they're so not.) You'll thank me for this one day.

5. Had a torturous, beautiful, out of control crush
on a tortured, beautiful, out of control boy. Or girl, if that's the way you roll. Crushes are what your teen years are all about.

6. Had a job. I babysat, did a paper round, worked in a horrible souvenir shop in Bayswater, sold more tourist tat at a stall in Camden Lock, taught at my synagogue's Cheder and was an admin assistant. All while doing the book learning. I got the sack a lot, once for daydreaming, which is actually pretty cool, but it did instil me with a work ethic. And the wherewithal to buy books, records and clothes that my parents didn't approve of but couldn't do anything about because it was my money.

7. Been to see a foreign language film.
With sub-titles. And good-looking foreign boys with sexy accents and other worldly cheekbones. When I was 16, I saw a film called Rouge Baiser, which I can honestly say shaped my taste in men for ever more and has influenced every single book I've written.

8. Formed a band with your friends. I was in a band called Mellowstar. We never even had a rehearsal or picked up an instrument but we did have a great chorus to our theme song: Supernova, she's no pushover/Spacecat, he knows where it's at/MoonBuggy, she plays the guitar/Do you know who we are?/We're Mellowstar!

9. Made an item of clothing. No matter how ineptly. I once made a polka dot dress and worked out the pattern for it, by lying on brown paper and getting a friend to draw around me. God, I wore that dress to death!

10. Kept a diary. Regular readers of this blog will know how evangelical I am about the keeping of journals, blogs, diaries, whatever; especially if you want to be a writer when you're all growed up because how can you be a writer if you don't actually, like, write?

11. Have heroines. I think it's very important to have strong female role models or just women that you look to for inspiration. When I was a teenager, my heroines were Patti Smith, Edie Sedgwick, Dorothy Parker and Miss Hill, my English teacher when I was at school; all difficult, misunderstood women who helped me figure out how to start the journey towards who I was meant to be – a difficult, misunderstood woman!

12. Had the courage to dump bad friends.
I think teenage friendships can be wonderful but they can also be these horrible power struggles that make you feel shit about yourself. When I was 15 or 16, I had this friend who constantly undermined me. In fact, she made putting me down into an art form. I can still remember sitting by Camden Lock and telling her that our friendship was finito – it was about the bravest thing I've ever had to do.

13. Have boy mates. Because they don't just exist to have mammoth crushes on. In fact, I would go one step further and say have gay boy mates. My gay boy friends found their teenage years very hard and needed good, non-judgey friends and they encouraged me to behave very badly and to be fabulous at all times, so it worked out very well.

14. Don't sweat the school stuff. Do your homework on time and get your qualifications, but honestly most of it you will never need in the grown up world. Have I ever needed to use chemical symbols, algebraic equations or the timeline of the 100 Years War? That would be a big, fat no.

15. Been to see a band live. Preferably in a hot, stinky back room and preferably not anyone who does formation dance routines while wearing matching outfits.

16. Screamed the words, "I never asked to be born!" at your parents. Total rites of passage, man.

17. Made a mix-CD and sent it to a boy. Though they were called mix tapes when I was your age, young lady. My speciality was sending mix-tapes full of angry, shouty songsto boys who'd done me wrong, accompanied by angry, shouty letters written in gold pen on purple paper. I was a very pretentious teenager, if you haven't already realised that!

18. Had a little cry the night before your 18th birthday because you're not ready to be an adult. Hey, I'm still not ready to be an adult...

(Edited to add: If you have any of your own 18 things to do before you're 18, put them in a comment and maybe I'll get enough to do a reader-produced list!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nominate me!

Hello chickadees

I'm back from the Lake District, where I spent a lot of time being harassed by swans, geese, ducks and moorhens, which was very traumatising for a city girl like me. And I ate too much thunder and lightning ice cream, which is vanilla with chocolate and cinder toffee. Absolutely delicious!

I've been told by the Powers That Be to ask you to nominate me to be Queen Of Teen. It's a contest to find the favourite writer of girls aged between 10 and 18. Click here to nominate me (and your nomination automatically enters you into a competition to come to the 'coronation' and ride in a limousine and some such.) If I make the shortlist of ten writers announced on July 10th, I'll then nag you and nag you and nag you to vote for me. Sounds like a plan!

Regular commenter, Koko, has asked me if I've read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and what I think of it. But actually, I rarely read other teen fiction. I tend to be rather sponge-like and soak up stuff I've read so don't want to be unconsciously influenced by other teen writers when I'm working on a book. But also, I just prefer to do my own thing, and plough my own lonely teen furrow, without worrying what other YA writers are doing. In fact, as I write my grown-up book, I've stopped reading novels altogether. If they're good, I get all insecure and if they're distinctly not good, I start wondering what the point is of it all! It's memoirs and biographies for the forseaable future.

But if you like, I could make a list of my favourite teen books, either books I loved as a teen or books that I've read that I think you'd enjoy. Leave me a comment.

And don't forget to nominate me. I'm off to tackle the laundry mountain and clean my oven because being a writer is non-stop glamour!

Live on

Sarra x

Friday, May 16, 2008

Welcome to the Upper East Side, Bitch

A science-based compare and contrast on which show rockeths the most: The OC or Gossip Girl


Marissa Cooper vs. Serena Van Der Woodsen

Both blonde girls with issues, low-rent boyfriends and an extremely low tolerance for alcohol. Serena does deserve some credit for being even more freaking annoying than Marissa, which I didn't even think was possible but mostly she just tosses her hair, talks out of the side of her mouth and has put all her demons behind her. Qu'elle boring. Marissa on the other hand, was one hot mess of a trust fund girl. Who can forget the time she OD'ed in Mexico, shot Ryan's brother and tried out lesbianism to see if it brought out the blue in her eyes? Marissa was so out-of-control crazy that her own mother tried to get her committed and she could throw a hissy fit with the best of them.

Winner: The OC

Seth Cohen vs. Dan Humphreys

Yes, Dan's cute and he does have really good arms, but serves no other purpose than to follow Serena around slavishly, scrunching up his forehead when she plays hot and cold with his emotions. My future husband, Seth, though was a fully-faceted character in his own right with his seething mass of neuroses, his bitching t-shirt and CD collection and his monumental self-obsession. Then there was his way with a quip, his talent for drawing comic books and his Nick & Norah (that would be The Thin Man films NOT the YA book) relationship with Summer. Still need convincing? C'mon, ladies, Seth invented Chrismukkah!

Winner: The OC

Summer Roberts vs Blair Waldorf

I loved Summer, I really, really did. But I love Blair more. (Though it may be unfair to deathmatch them just for having the same colour hair.) I have a weakness for bitch goddess brunettes and Blair Waldorf is the bitch goddess Queen, while Summer lost her bitch goddess edge after The Powers That Be re-worked her character after the first few episodes. I can't hate on Summer too much so will just say that I love how Blair channels Audrey Hepburn in her outfits and Bette Davis every time she opens her mouth: "I think we can agree to those terms. But you can't wear those shoes." Or that hair." Oh, Blair, you're so my girl.

Winner: Gossip Girl

Sandy Cohen vs. Rufus Humphreys

On paper, Rufus should be way cooler because he lives in a loft in Brooklyn, used to be a rock star and own an art gallery. But his whiney mope rock anthems suck, the art he sells is crap and he's just a Disco Vicar imitation of Sandy Cohen, the coolest TV dad ever. He surfed! He was a public defense lawyer, taking a crap salary to help the disadvantaged! He loved bagels! He rescued Ryan from 'Cino! And he had the best fricking eyebrows in the world! Sandy for the win!

Winner: The OC

Chuck Bass vs. Ryan Atwood

Ah, the bad boys. Now Ryan was pretty hardcore. He did go to juvie and get stabbed in the neck with a fork in the very first episode. But take away the anger management issues and the puppy dog eyes and you weren't left with much in the way of charisma. Now, Chuck, on the other hand may be evil, but my goodness, he has charisma in spades. Other girls may coo over Nate, but the clever money is on Chuck as the Upper East Side boy it's cool to like. Plus, he knows how to accessorise and he's not afraid to wear bright colours, which should never be underestimated.

Winner: Gossip Girl

Julie Cooper vs. Lily van der Woodsen

They've both been married umpteen times to really rich men despite their dodgy pasts but there the similarity ends. We're meant to believe that the icy Lily who walks about with a smell under her nose and a stick wedged up her arse was a groupie. But then we discover that she was a groupie for Rufus, so actually not so much and she was only doing it to rebel against the pressure of being absolutely stinking rich. But Julie Cooper dragged herself up from trailer park trash to social prominence in the OC but along the way she was into poodle perm rockers and made a really tacky sex tape. While Lily spends her day supervising flower arrangement and being haughty, Julie had her own escort agency and she would totally take Lily down in a fight. We're talking serious maiming, possibly dismemberment using only her nails.

Winner: The OC for sho'

New York couture vs. Californian chic

I loved how Marissa and Summer were the first girls on TV to wear Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu and bloody Chanel, lest we forget. And they paved the way for the Gossip Girls' serious, designer real estate. I have a fashgasm every time, Blair appears on screen, keep adding to my wishlist items on each time I see a new bag on GG and wonder whether I could possibly rock a brightly coloured trench coat. Though, I am nearing my tolerance threshold for hair bands and coloured tights. One more pair of yellow tights and my retinas might just explode.

Winner: A tie!

New York vs. Orange County

That Californian surfer lifestyle was cool with the beach and the Bait Shop (I think that was the name of the club where all those Emo bands used to play) and sipping milkshakes at the diner. But they had to drive everywhere, which doesn't really translate to a British audience. Even the really poor kids have cars, which is something I've never been able to figure out about US shows. But, I digress. And say, New York! New York! So good they named it twice. Who wants the Bait Shop when there's dinner at Butter or shopping at Bergdorfs and pretending that Brooklyn is the absolute pits, but cool in a hard times chic way, just because it doesn't overlook Central Park. And they have those adorable yellow taxi cabs everywhere and streets you can actually walk down and even sitting on the school steps looks cool.

Winner: Gossip Girl

VERDICT: The OC only just scraped through by a nose, which surprises me. Maybe I love Gossip Girl more than I thought. Anywhere, here you have actual scientific proof that The OC is better than Gossip Girl. And that I am going on holiday tomorrow and will do anything to avoid packing and, laundry and oh yeah, finishing up all my outstanding work.

See you on the flipside, girlies

S x

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Accept no substitutes

So, with the recent UK release of Candy, I have no new teen books coming out for a while, as I work on my first grown-up book Unsticky. And it's grown-up in that I'd be kinda horrified if anyone under 16 read it, though I guess the content is no more racy than you might find in an episode of, like, Sex And The City. And I guess you all watch that...

Anyways, there will be new teen-friendly fare from me, but I don't think it will be until late next year. Though I'm very excited to start writing the book I have in mind. After the slightly fluffier Fashionistas, it will be classic Manning and very much in the spirit of Diary Of A Crush and Let's Get Lost. But I can't say any more than that.

I did want to assure you that I'm not going anywhere and I plan to regularly update this blog, which I have been very lax about of late. But without much book news, I really want to start having some fun here. I was saying to my friend, Sarah, that I really miss being on a teen mag at the moment because there's so much great stuff happening and there's no Ellegirl or J17 to cover it in the inimitable style with which we covered stuff. And then I thought: I have a blog! And teenage readers! So, I'm going to post all manner of odd pop culture snippets, both old and new, and witter on about them. Please see below:



Is Gossip Girl just a pale East Coast imitation of our beloved OC? This is just one burning issue that I will be sharing in the weeks to come. Hey, let's all have some heated debates...

Friday, April 18, 2008

SNEAK PREVIEW! Fashionistas: Candy!

I'm in deep hibernation mode as I try to get to the end of the never-ending first draft of my grown up novel, Unsticky.

The fourth and final book in the Fashionistas series, Candy, is out or is almost out or was stocked way too early by some bookshops. Whatever! Either way, here is a teaser to whet your appetites:

"I'm moving to London and that's all there is to it," Candy informed her mother who was clipping coupons.

"Is this about that boy who tried to do the kiss and tell, sweetie?" Bette cooed, putting a fifty cent coupon for cupcakes in the 'yes' pile. "I know that you've had your heart broken but what has London got that New York hasn't?"

"It doesn't have you in it," Candy wanted to say but she stuck to the lines she'd rehearsed in her head. "It's got nothing to do with that asswipe," she bit out, which was only half true. "I'm fed up with taking part in this freaking freakshow. God, I want to be halfway normal for a little bit so I want out!"

"If I ran off to London every time life let me down, I'd have dual nationality by now," Bette breathed. "C'mon, Candy Cane…"

"I've told you not to call me that..."

"…you're not a quitter. Stay in New York and we'll buy new shoes, go to The Waverly for brunch, anything you want, you'll soon be sunny smiles again."

"I've never been sunny smiles in my life," Candy snarled, because Bette was the most infuriating woman in the world when she was purposely not getting a clue. Actually, scratch that. She was the most infuriating woman in the world. Period. Candy glared at her half brother, Reed, who was here under duress and hadn't made eye contact with Bette yet. He really needed to get over the whole my-mother-left-me-and-my-father-when-I-was-five-to-run-off-with-a-degenerate-punk-icon thing.

Reed sighed. "I don't think this is the best place for Candy to be right now," he said, gesturing at the cluttered apartment, his gaze resting on one of the cats licking milk from Candy's half-finished bowl of cereal. "And I'll be in London to keep an eye on her." He sounded far too Big Brother-ish for Candy's liking. As if he wasn't just saying it to get her Mom off her back but like he was planning all sorts of fun things like curfews and rules.

"But you're just so young, baby girl," Bette breathed, eyes wide.

"I'm 16 and when you were my age, you were gallivanting around the world and being all model-ly and shit," Candy pointed out.

"And look how well that turned out," Reed muttered sotto voce but Candy wasn't done.

"I'm old enough to take care of myself," she burst out, her voice rising to a pitch that had Conceptua bustling in with a handful of laundry.

"She go to London, she miss school," she intoned darkly in her heavy Portuguese accent. "Then she stay out all night, start with the drinking, then the drugs. She be dead before 20." Conceptua was a big fan of the worst-case scenario. "I light a candle to pray for your immortal soul."

Candy rolled her eyes. Reed stared at his nails. Conceptua shoo-ed the cats off the laundry and Bette carried on clipping coupons that she was never going to use. She'd just put them on one of the many piles of crap in the apartment and they'd stay there for ever.

"God, I can't bear to live in this dump any longer," Candy snapped and she was halfway to flouncing out of the room when her father headed her off at the pass.

"Can't sleep with all this yelling," he mumbled, scratching his spiky black hair. He paused to pick up one of the cats and wrap a long, skinny arm around Candy, as Conceptua shot him a dark look.

"Is five in the afternoon. You should not be sleeping," she announced censoriously and speeded up with the folding; her gnarled fingers making light work of Candy's polka dot bed linen.

David Careless yawned. "Yeah, well, power nap," he said vaguely before his heavy lidded eyes rested on his only child. "What's bugging you, baby?"

There was no short answer to that question and just as Candy was trying to come up with a reply that wouldn't take several hours and about a hundred swear words, Bette beat her to it.

"Oh, Candy's having a hissy fit," she said lightly. "She wants to move to London to mend her broken heart."

"My heart is not…"

"Baby, that's so Henry James," David smirked. "Can't remember which book it was but they shipped the girl with the ruined rep back to the motherland. Or was it Edith Wharton?"

"I'm going to London," Candy said forcefully. "I am and that's all there is to it. If you're all down with the goddamn dead novelists, then you should be happy that Reed'll be there to act as a chaperone."

"Don't take the Lord's name in vain," Conceptua said automatically as Bette actually put down her scissors and looked at her estranged son in consternation.

"Reed, I can't believe that you put this idea in her head." Bette probably thought that she sounded all reproachful and dignified, but it actually came out really whiny.

"She came up with it all by herself." Reed shrugged and still managed not to make eye contact with his mother. "And if Candy's mind is made up then short of calling out the National Guard there's nothing any of us can do about it."

Candy wriggled off David's lap because he was trying to tickle her and giggling wasn't very effective when she was meant to be laying down the law.

Bette had this look that Candy recognised. A look that meant she needed a large vodka and tonic to get through the next five minutes. Like a shark scenting blood in the water, Candy moved in for the kill.

"If you don't let me go to London, I'll… I'll…" Her voice rose perilously high as she weighed up the countless threats she had good to go. And then it hit her. She smiled triumphantly. "I'll get a lawyer and I'll divorce you and become a legally emancipated adult and then I can go where I like, do what I like and there'll be fuck all you can do about it!" Candy hadn't paused for breath once and as she stood there panting, enjoying the shocked expressions on Bette, Conceptua and even David's face, there was a cough from the corner.

"That was great, guys," said the director of At Home With The Careless. "But we need another take – we're not happy with the lighting in this scene."

Candy looked up to where the old wall of the kitchen had been until the TV production company had bought the apartments on either side and knocked through so they'd have room for their cameras and the gazillion people that needed to mill about with cups of coffee and clipboards.

"So much for fly-on-the-wall, reality TV," Reed noted sagely

"At Home With The Careless is not reality TV," Bethany, the assistant director, hissed. "It's a genre-defining, reality-based dramedy, actually."

Reed didn't look a all chastened. "I'm out of here," he said. "I'm meeting some finance guys at the Gramercy Park Hotel in half an hour."

"But we haven't wrapped the scene yet," Bette protested, but Reed was already heading for the door with a terse, "Not my problem."

"I thought we told you to make him sign a contract," one of the producers said but the director clapped his hands.

"On your marks, people. Scene five, take seven, action!"

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sneak preview of Fashionistas: Irina

I promised a sneak preview of Irina and here it is! I can't wait for you guys to get hold of a copy of this book, especially as there's a very special guest star who may well make you squeal out loud. As ever, though the book isn't officially released for a week or so, there are copies already for sale. This is because unless you're JK Rowling, book shop staff usually start putting books on the shelf as soon as they come in, never mind the actual date of publication. And it really boosts my first week sales so I've learnt not to mind. One last thing, if you have read the book ahead of the release date, please try not to give spoilers away in your comments. Anyway, on to Irina:

Irina checked the pocket of her coat again for the bulky but reassuring weight of the bolt cutters, and cast an anxious look at Sergei who was chattering animatedly to the two glacially unimpressed sales assistants

She scanned the rails for the black silk dress that Sergei's client had requested. This was the bit that Irina hated the most because she could never tell the difference between silk and satin, charcoal and grey. Actually the part she hated the most was setting foot in Kitai-gorod where everyone looked at her shabby clothes and knew that she didn't belong, even wearing the voluminous fur coat that Sergei had stolen from his grandmother.

There were three black silk dresses hanging from one rail; so understated and elegant that Irina was convinced they'd disintegrate from one touch of her grubby fingers. She grabbed the collar of the first dress, checked the size and reached into her pocket for the cutters.

"You're gorgeous," she heard Sergei say behind her. "You ever think of being a model?"

Irina scowled. She knew that he was only flirting to distract the salesgirls. And she also knew that guys like Sergei with his twinkling blues eyes and easy smile weren't interested in girls like her. But still, it was pathetic the way the sales assistants were fawning over him now, even though he looked just as out of place in their stupid, ritzy boutique as she did.

Her fingers were shaking as she manoeuvred the bolt cutters carefully between the stem of the security tag and the delicate material. Not because she was scared. Irina wasn't scared of anything but Sergei was laying it on too thick now and their cover could get blown.

"Wow! I've never seen such beautiful women." Irina shifted to one side so she could glare at the simpering sales staff and make sure that a well-dressed couple were between her and the security guard stationed at the door. Sergei would punch him when she ran for the exit, Irina assured herself as she tried to cut through the thick plastic tag.

But then Sergei's phone started ringing.

"Lilya, baby, I'm a little busy right now. Can I call you back?"

Lilya was tiny and blonde and punctuated everything she said with a high-pitched giggle. Irina yanked impatiently at the dress, which gave up the fight and tore under her impatient fingers.

She swore softly under her breath. Keep calm. Keep calm. One black silk dress was much like any other. Irina seized the next one on the rail, vaguely aware that the guard was walking towards Sergei who was badgering one of the girls to open a glass display case. They could get 1000 rubles for Prada sunglasses. It wasn't part of the plan but that's what she liked about Sergei – he was so spontaneous, so exciting and so very about to get busted.

"Leave the store now," the guard ordered tersely. "Out, or we press the panic button."

He hadn't seen her yet. Irina fumbled with the cutters again, heard Sergei remonstrate with the staff.

She felt her body grow clammy, beads of sweat popping up on her forehead as a hand clamped down on her shoulder. "Any second now, that security guard is going to see you," a voice advised her. "If I were you I'd leave the dress and come with us."

Us? The well-dressed couple had her book-ended. Irina's eyes darted wildly around and came to rest on the man's polished black shoes. He spoke Russian with an accent. The woman was younger, blonde, elegantly dressed in a soft leather coat and staring at Irina incredulously. What a bitch!

"Go away," she spat loud enough that the security guard slowly swung round. "I'm not going anywhere with you."

She could already see Sergei sidling towards the door, not even bothering to look back and check that she was OK. Then he was gone, an indistinct blur streaking past the window and she was on her own with the guard striding towards her. They didn't carry guns, Irina was pretty sure about that. Not here where the rich came to shop. Though you could never tell with the private security firms.

Irina tried to put the dress back on the rail; wrinkling it in her sweaty hands, messing it up like she did everything. "I… I…" the words were stuck in her throat, but the woman was calmly shielding her from view, taking the bolt cutters out of Irina's hands and dropping them into a capacious Gucci tote.

"Do something, Henri," she hissed in English. "And do it quickly."

Henri was already pushing Irina towards the sales desk. He presented the dress that she'd already torn with a flourish. "I'm terribly sorry but my niece has had a small accident. We'll pay for it, of course."

Irina waited until he was taking a credit card out of his wallet, before she bolted, the worn soles of her trainers skidding across the highly polished marble floor, but the blonde woman was blocking her exit.

"Don't even think about it," she rapped out. "Just stay there and smile and remember to thank your 'uncle' for getting you out of this mess."

Her 'uncle' had a stiff cardboard bag in his hand, as he nodded his head at the staff before hurrying over to them. "Let's get the hell out of here," he gritted between clenched teeth as they bundled Irina out of the door.

"What do you want from me?" she demanded brusquely, trying to wrench away from them as soon as they got outside. "You want me to pay you back for the dress, huh? How do you want me to do that?"

She knew about rich tourists. There were girls that hung around on the edges of Sergei's gang who'd come into the city and go to the fancy bars attached to the biggest hotels. They came back the next day with tearstains, bruised lips and fistfuls of dollars.

The woman was pulling Irina into the weak sunshine spilling down on Tretyakov Drive. There was nowhere to hide from two pairs of beady eyes that swept over the moth-eaten fur coat, the grubby tracksuit bottoms and trainers poking out from under the hem and Irina's face. Her stupid, sallow face with the blotchy brown marks all over it.

Irina sized them up – the woman could easily be knocked over, but Henri was tall and she could feel the tensile strength in his hand as he kept a tight grip on her arm. "I didn't ask you to pay for the dress," Irina insisted again.

It was like her words were made out of air. They simply brushed them away and continued to stare at her.

"Have you ever seen cheekbones like hers?" the woman said in English because they thought she was some dumb hick. "And she's tall."

"Thin too," the man added, actually daring to pull back the side of her coat, even as Irina hissed at him. "Rangy, she's got long legs."

Any moment now, Sergei would roar up on his bike. Except Sergei was probably halfway to St Petersburg by now and Irina was on her own. They didn't know that she could speak English and that was something at least that she could use to her advantage. Maybe even take the woman's bag while she was at it.

All Irina needed was to come up with a plan while they talked about her like she was a slab of meat on the butcher's block.

"I wonder how she photographs," the woman was saying and Irina couldn't help the shudder that ran through her. Everyone knew a girl who'd gone off to Sweden or Germany or Switzerland with a rich foreigner who'd promised her a passport and they were never heard of again. Sergei said that they got sold into prostitution rings. They'd sit there wide-eyed, listening to him go into lurid details. Then he'd ruffle Irina's hair. "Not like you have to worry about that," he'd say. "You'd have to pay them." And they'd all laugh. And Irina would laugh too, though actually she didn't think it was that funny.

"I'm going now," she said decisively, because the icy panic washing over her was making it hard to think clearly. "Get your hands off me or I'll scream."

She'd never screamed in her life but they didn't know that.

But they weren't letting go, instead the man nodded and the woman turned to her with a smile. "Tell me something, have you ever thought about being a model?"

Monday, March 03, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I'll be posting a sneak preview from Fashionistas: Irina later in the week but for now I just have to say:

It's Edie. Ee-dee. Not Eddie. Short for Edith. Please stop spelling her name wrong as it causes both Edie and I untold amounts of distress.

Live on

Sarra x

Thursday, February 14, 2008

All the news that's fit to print...

Happy Valentine's Day, readers

You know, I'm so glad I work from home and I don't have to see those really smug girls on the tube clutching bouquets of red roses. Yes, because I am bitter, thank you for asking.

It's been a tough couple of weeks, overshadowed by grief and loss, but I'm climbing out of the hole and have many things to tell you.

The first is that the third book in the Fashionistas series, Irina, goes on sale on March 20th if you live in Britain or can order it from or

It's quickly followed by the release of the fourth and final book, Candy, on April 17th. Here is a first look at the cover:

And here is the back cover blurb:

Candy Careless is the daughter of punk royalty and the acid-tongued star of the reality show that's boosted her eccentric family's flagging fortunes. When Candy gets her heart broken she heads for London to escape the pressure of cameras in her face 24/7 and break into the world of fashion. Her bark and her bite alienate everyone, from herthree flat-mates to the intriguing Alfie, but whatever. Not her problem. But when dark secrets threaten to destroy everything Candy's worked for, she begins to realise that she's not really the sassy girl she plays on TV.

As ever, I'll post sneak excerpts from the books, nearer to publication. And they usually turn up in bookshops a couple of weeks ahead of the official release date so keep your eyes peeled. There's still no sign of an American release, but that brings me very swiftly to my final piece of news. I've written a short story, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, for a US anthology entitled Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? I'm in the company of some really great authors like Sara Zarr, Carolyn Mackler and Megan McCafferty all writing about weight and esteem and body issues. The book comes out in the States this summer but non-Americans should prolly be able to order ir through their country's Amazon site on import.

So that's some booky stuff to look forward to. By the way, what do you all reckon to this Adele vs Duffy stuff? I admit I'm kinda underwhelmed by both of them. Great voices and I love to see younger girls coming up through the ranks and getting attention, but they just don't move me. I really loved Laura Marling's single, New Romantic, but the album is a bit disappointing, though I really like the track, Failure. Someone on MySpace (I'm sorry I can't remember your name and you didn't Friend me so I couldn't message you a thank you!) tipped me off to a great Swedish singer called Nina Kinert and I'm hoping for new Hello Saferide and Saint Etienne albums this year. What are you listening to that this Belle And Sebastian fan might like?

Remember, that even if there weren't any cards waiting for you on the doormat today, I love you!

Live on

Sarra x

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

10 reasons why you need to see Juno the moment it comes out...

I'm in love. L.U.V. I saw a preview screening of a new American film called Juno on Monday, which I think anyone who likes my books will adore.

It's the story of 16-year-old Juno McDuff, who gets up the duff to her orange TicTac addicted boyfriend and follows the story of what happnes next. This is why I loved it:

1. Juno is a snarky, moody, too cool for skool, but dorky girl with a hamburger phone.

2. The film doesn't send out a message that sex is bad, OMG!, and let that be a lesson to you. You get to make up your own mind.

3. Juno has a little sister called Liberty Belle who has the funniest Munchkin face I've ever seen.

4. Juno's boyfriend, Bleeker, is just as inarticulate and wussy as most 16 year old boys are.

5. It has the best sound track, including my third favourite Belle & Sebastian song (Expectations) and the good bits of The Moldy Peaches - their quieter, more whimsical stuff not the songs where they're just being silly.

6. You'll see it again and again and you'll memorise your favourite lines. At the moment I'm quoting, "I need to know that it's possible that two people can stay happy together forever."

7. It's got me really excited about the book I'm writing and about being brave and writing in a way that's different from other writers. My books have been rejected by TV and film peeps for "not being filmic enough" so I'm heartened that there are still people around who realise we don't necessarily want to see perfect, beautiful people messing up in a perfect, beautiful way on our screens.

8. Juno was so good that even the woman sitting three rows across who must have been a semi-finalist in the National Bag Rustling And Eating Really Noisy Snacks Awards didn't annoy me that much.

9. It has Jennifer Garner in it. And I have a huge girl crush on Jennifer Garner in this completely irrational, I'll-see-anything-that-she's-in-even-if-it's-really-crap way.

10. At the end I even squeezed out a few tears and I can't remember the last time a film made me cry.

So, Juno comes out on February 8th, so cancel all your other plans and go and see it. Then let me know why YOU loved it too!

Live on

Sarra x

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Random Days Of Chrismukkah: The Lost Girl

Happy New Year to one and all! I am feeling a little bit fragile this morning. Except it isn't actually morning because that was over and done with while I was still sleeping. Oh dear!

Anyway, my random Chrismukkah gift-giving continues with a bit that got cut out of the final draft of Let's Get Lost, like a deleted scene friom a DVD if you will. I tend to overwrite then find myself having to cut thousands and thousands of words from my final drafts. Alas my files for LGL are really disorganised and this is all I could find. It's the bit where Isabel has been snogging one of those chavvy boys in the park. And it's completely unedited and it a very clunky past tense. Why did I do that?!


Rob really had been the best of a truly bad bunch. At least he'd hit puberty. We'd drunk these two super-sized bottles of cider quickly enough to qualify for the world record before Rob had dragged me off in the direction of the hut behind the Crown Bowling Green. He'd fancied himself quite the raconteur and regaled me with all these stories about how he could break into a car in five seconds and steal the stereo and the sub woofers, whatever the hell they were, before anyone realised. He was quite the charming conversationalist.

"People are real twats," he'd sniffed. "Most of the time they leave the doors unlocked."

"You don't say."

"Yeah. I've never really talked to a posh bird before."

I arched one of my eyebrows. "And how's it working out for you?"

"Dunno," he'd said, after a minute's thought. "So you gonna let me feel you up then?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I'd caught a flash of pink and I knew Nancy was in the vicinity already to report back. "C'mon, then," I'd sighed. "You can kiss me if you like."

After Rob had thoroughly rinsed my mouth out with his tongue for a good few minutes while I carefully manoeuvred him out of the line of fire, I'd had enough. Then he'd mauled my tits like he was trying to tune in one of those purloined car stereos and I'd had more than I could stand.

I'd gently extricated myself from his octopus-like embrace and firmly removed the paw that was clamped around my left buttock.

"What did you do that for?" Rob had asked, trying to worm his leg between mine while I thrust my head back to evade any more spit.

"Don't get me wrong, this has been real and stuff but I have to go," I'd said very pleasantly given the extreme mauling I'd just suffered. "Maybe I'll see you around."

He'd reached for me again as I'd adroitly side-stepped out of the path of his questing hands. "You're tight, you know that," he'd told me furiously.

"Gosh, thanks awfully for enlightening me." He didn't seem to be getting the message that I'd rather have my skin removed from my body with a rusty potato peeler than kiss him again. He'd kept lurching towards me with his lips puckered and Jesus, those hands… They should have had a government health warning tattooed across the knuckles.

"You know you want to," he'd cajoled, grabbing my wrists and it's so annoying that even the weediest boy can overpower me. But even weedy boys don't have nails as sharp as mine or know how to use them.

He gave a girly squeak when I dug them into the back of his hands and finally let me go. "Sorry about that," I'd chirped. "Did I mention that I was a Mormon?"

And then I turned and ran while he was still scrolling through the empty files where his brain should be to understand what I was saying.