Something to tell you… (Eeek!)

Clock Tower Desert Island Book ChoiceSo, I’ve got something exciting to tell you… ***drumroll please***

On the evening of Wednesday June 11, I will be taking part in the Clock Tower Desert Island Book Choice – part of the Crouch End Festival 2014.

As a former Crouch End gal, this gorgeous part of north London is still so close to my heart. I used to spend lots of time writing in The Haberdashery, where I was lucky enough to be able to hold my second book launch, and also, of course, Crouch End Library.

I’m delighted to be returning to the library for this special event. I am honoured to be joining authors Tom Campbell, Louise Millar, Matthew Baylis, and Callum Jacobs as we will discuss why we heart CE, what we’d pick as our desert island novel choices, and read extracts from our books!

I hope you can come along, it would be lovely to meet you. We will be signing copies of our books too!






A Boxing Day treat! My final interview with a book blogger…

Happy Christmas all! Are you having a relaxing Boxing Day or are you hitting the shops?

Whatever you are doing this afternoon, I hope you enjoy the final interview in my series with independent book bloggers. Today I’m talking to a lovely blogger from Northern Ireland… Do you know who she might be?

1) Hi Bronagh! Welcome:)  Please tell me more about yourself. What are your three favourite things?

Hello, my name is Bronagh, I live in Northern Ireland and I enjoy books, tea and new adventures.

2) Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

My book news, interviews and reviews site Handwritten Girl started during the hot summer of 2011 and has been growing ever since. Not only does the website include book reviews, it also features author interviews providing tips and advice for aspiring writers, which I hope readers of the website find useful and encouraging.

3) Nice one! Why did you start blogging?

I started reviewing for a number of reasons. As a reader I was constantly telling people about a great new book that I read or people were asking me for a recommendations so the website became a shortcut for this and appealed to a wider community.

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

The best thing is of course getting to read so many wonderful books and the worst is not always having the time to read them!

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

I have never really had a favourite character of all time, but having just finished and loved Mhairi McFarlane’s new book ‘Here’s Looking At You’ I must admit I did love the female lead in the story. Her name was Anna and had quite a dark and witty sense of humour and a kind aura about her, she was the type of girl that you would like to have as a friend.

6) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

I used to be quite cynical about books being adapted for film as it’s hard to compress a whole book into a two hours or less. But, I’ve now come to the conclusion that for people who aren’t readers, if they see the film and enjoy it, then maybe they will seek out the book and experience the story in its original form. After all every film starts with a script, which isn’t to far removed from the format of the typical book.

7) How do you handle it when you have read a book you don’t like? Will you still review it? 

If I read a book and I don’t enjoy it and just like books I that I do enjoy, I still review it. As a writer myself, I appreciate the time and effort that an author has gone to write a book— just because the book isn’t for me, doesn’t mean that others won’t enjoy it, so it is worth pointing out the elements which do work, as well as do not, in those stories.

8) Do you read books quickly, or slowly?

The speed which I read is based purely on how much I like the story. If I think the story is brilliant and I can’t wait to see how it will end, I could easily devour it in a day. Well, as long as I don’t have any other distractions. Usually I read a book in two days.

9) Do you prefer a genre? If so, why?

I enjoy comedy, romance and you cant beat thrillers. Give me anything with a good narrative, regardless of the genre though, I will give it a go!

Thanks Bronagh!

You can connect with Bronagh on Twitter – @handwritten


London gems that inspire my writing…

In my three years of living in this gorgeous city I’m glad to say I’ve discovered some inspiring places to write books*. Not only that, but some parts of the city have ended up in my books, either directly, or as the inspiration behind some fictional places.

While I’m usually holed up inside, squinting at my laptop, it’s nice to get out sometimes for a change of scenery. It’s even better when one of those wanders forms the basis of a scene.

Here are some of my favourite spots to write when I do tear myself away from the house, and some of the places that inspired chapters in This is a Love Story and Three Little Words. I’d love to know yours too, so do please get in touch and let me know.

The Haberdashery, N8

The Haberdashery in Crouch End

The Haberdashery in Crouch End

I must admit I’m a little bit in love with this cafe. I discovered it when I lived in Crouch End and I kind of knew I would adore it before I even went in. I don’t know if it was the fairy lights (all year round), the pretty bunting that hung outside, or the chalked sign by the door that said ‘Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten’ (I know, I don’t get it either). It just kind of seeps shabby chic from several metres away and you can usually hear laughter and the chinking of crockery whenever you walk past it because it’s really popular.

When you step inside it only gets more sweet. There are homemade goodies on sale ranging from distressed teddies to quirky paintings, your drinks arrive in mismatching tea sets that look adorable and there’s a real local feel to it.

I spent a lot of time in there with my laptop and a latte, working away on Three Little Words. It really was a very happy time for me. I loved The Haberdashery so much that I held the launch of Three Little Words there and it was a fabulous venue that I would highly recommend. It was great to celebrate the book in the exact spot where some of it was written.

The launch party for Three Little Words at The Haberdashery

The launch party for Three Little Words at The Haberdashery

Rokit, Covent Garden.

While I’ve never walked into this shop, fired up my laptop and started writing (which would be weird), it’s a wonderful hangout if you’re looking to ‘get to know’ your characters. It’s great to see some wild and wacky clothes, imagine them on your heroes and heroines, and think about how they look and dress. Whilst your character’s imaginary wardrobe is certainly not the basis for a well rounded pretend person, I find it really helps to picture them clearly in my mind.

One of the first bits of golden advice from my agent was to walk around shops and just look at things, feel fabrics and textures, and imagine exactly what your character would wear. In addition to being a great excuse to hit the high street, it’s also genuinely a brilliant way to decide whether you want your lead gal wearing leopard print platform brogues and a tracksuit or whether she’s a smart shirt and jeans kind of lady.

It’s thanks to Rokit that a character in my third book, which comes out next year, has such an unusual and enviable dress sense…

Alexandra Palace Park, N8

A picture taken by Pip in Alexandra Palace Park

A picture taken by Pip in Alexandra Palace Park

This is a thinking space for me, a great way to escape and consider plots and characters (also lovely for running, if you’re into that).

If you’ve never been here I would suggest starting at the bottom. Jump on a bus from Finsbury Park and get close as you can to the bottom of the park and then walk all the way up to the top. Don’t peep, however tempting it is, until you are right in front of the palace itself. And then turn around.

The view is stunning. You can pretty much see the whole of London spread out before you and it’s a nice to sit there and think about deep and meaningful stuff. I was so touched by Alexandra Palace that it inspired a scene in This is a Love Story, where Nick and Sienna go to the park. I always remember that when I return and that’s why for me, it’s one of my favourite parks in London.

– Balham.

Balham was a big part of This is a Love Story, although the venues/office I wrote about were made up. It’s the general feel of Balham that I love, even the train station is quaint and somehow rather pretty.

One of my favourite real-life venues in the area is The Balham Bowls Club. It’s got a really old fashioned feel to it and so much personality. I also sang at The Bedford in Balham when I was in a band last year and it was a fantastic music venue.

I haven’t been to Balham for a little while actually, but I hope a visit is on the cards very soon…

Hornsey Library, N8

Hornsey Library is modest and tucked away from the High Street. I spent many hours writing Three Little Words there. I don’t know what it was about this library, but I found it a great place to really be able to concentrate.

One of the loveliest things about this library is the gallery space upstairs. They always choose really cool exhibitions to show. Next to the gallery is a lovely little cafe that was (and I hope still is) run by a wonderful guy who wears pirate inspired attire.

What are you favourite places to write in London? Has anywhere made it into one of your books, short stories or poems? I’d love to hear from you…

(*or sit and think about writing books.)

Most awkward questions to ask a writer…

Being an author is one of those jobs that sometimes catches people’s interest, just like being a journalist, policeman, or a vet.

Most people know a writer, or a very talented one who wants to be published. Even if that isn’t the case, people understandably like to know how a book goes from that troubled first draft through to a polished, finished product. There’s no doubt it’s a wonderful thing to do something for a living that’s interesting.

But from my own experiences and from talking to other writers, I’ve identified ‘those questions’. The ones that occasionally crop up and make us want to stockpile chocolate bars, crisps and nuts, and hide away from the world. I can imagine people get this in every job, so please tell me yours too.

1) Have you read this book?

This one always makes me a little nervous, I have to admit. All my life I’ve been a keen reader, a real lover of books. Like most people I’ve read a lot, but not nearly as much as I’d like… Time just isn’t on my side with this (as well as writing books, I work full-time and I’m studying part-time towards a degree). Not only that, but when I’m writing my own drafts I sometimes avoid the work of other authors to make sure I don’t accidentally take on their tone! Sometimes I opt for memoirs or more obscure things, so it can be a bit humiliating when I’m at a party and people ask me if I’ve read X, Y or Z and I just feel my ears go hot.

I only wish I could read more!! *sighs*

2) There’s a mistake in your book… did you know?

Of course, this one’s a horror isn’t it? Just about every writer will have experienced this. When it happens all I can describe it as is a cold, sinking feeling followed by a strong desire to buy all your books from every shop in walking distance, head for the coast, hire and boat and dump them in the middle of the sea.

Unfortunately mistakes do sometimes get through… I know, it’s awful, and they often happen in the strangest ways making them look even more bizarre to the reader. Books are written and proof read by humans, sadly we make mistakes. A close friend of mine recently experienced this and told me her woes over dinner. I tried to offer words of comfort as she wiped away her tears behind a large burrito, but there was nothing I could do until a little time had passed.

But, do tell a writer if there’s an error. We can change drafts sometimes and if there’s time before release we can catch it early. Just be gentle with us… please! 😉

3) Is that character based on you?

I must admit I had a real giggle when I opened John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and found his author’s note (if you haven’t seen it you should have a look, it’ll make you smile I promise!)

It is interesting how people sometimes connect the similarities between an author and a character and not the hugely obvious differences.

On the plus side, it’s really cool that people are not only reading the book but paying this much attention to it. You write about what you know, and a hell of a lot of your work will be inspired by your life… However, I certainly have no intention or desire to write about myself fact-for-fact in a fictional book. I can’t imagine anything more boring…


4) I’ve been looking at your reviews… how do you cope?

Yes, someone actually said this to me.

Here’s a fact. If you write a novel that will be published to a wide audience, then some people will dislike it. In fact some people will hate it, and some people will take to Amazon/Good Reads etc and spend (way too much) time composing angry, venomous reviews (one about a book of mine was really carefully done, with lots of GIFs to illustrate just how shit they thought it was). That is part of the job, and if you are a newly published writer then you need to get used to it I’m afraid. Whether you are relatively unknown or whether you are up there with the likes of Zadie Smith and J.K Rowling, people will write bad reviews about you.

That’s fine. People absolutely have the right to their opinion (and you can learn from some of them, if you want to read them that is). But please, can’t we focus on the positives? Especially when the majority of reviews are really nice? Meh, maybe it’s just me…

5) Do you ever get writers block?

Yes, I do. I procrastinate. I clean the flat when it never needed to be cleaned, I shuffle papers around, start sifting through old photographs and I paint my nails all the colours of the rainbow. (If you ever see me on Monday morning with brightly coloured and beautifully painted nails, you’ll know things didn’t go well.)

It’s awful. If you happen to be asking me when I’ve got writers block and I’m out trying to forget it then you’ve reminded me and oh God noooooo…..!!!!

So, there they are.

The top five most awkward questions to ask a writer.

If you are a writer, do you agree or disagree? If not, what’s your job and what are the most awkward questions people ask you?

World Book Day 2013. Win a signed copy of Three Little Words…

It’s World Book Day and I’m holding a competition over on my Facebook page to win a signed copy of Three Little Words.

Head over there and tell me why you love books beneath the status. The comment with the most likes wins, so share among your friends and family!

Entries close at midnight.

Good luck!