OK, so I recently went to London to do some booky type things and it was basically a cringe-fest.  This is entirely my own fault because I’m good at writing but I’m completely rubbish at most other things you care to mention, including (but not limited to):

  1. Meeting people.
  2. Talking to people I don’t know.
  3. Mingling at social events.
  4. Acting like I know what I’m talking about.
  5. Explaining what my book is about.
  6. Thinking of interesting things to say (until much later).
  7. Being photographed/videoed.
  8. Being interviewed.
  9. (And I only just discovered this one recently) Signing books.

So, yeah, I was in London, doing all of the above.  Very badly.  But, you know, I tried.  And the good thing for me is that Hachette have LODB 1a load of people who are far better at most things than I am.  These quote cards for example are basically the BEST THING EVER, so I am going to share them here.  The one here went out into the world to celebrate two weeks until pub date.  More will follow as and when they are released into the wild…

DO NOT TOUCH My Finished Copies

FInished CopiesMy finished copies truly are things of beauty.  This has exactly ZERO to do with me.  It has to do with the incredibly talented folk at Little, Brown and Hachette, particularly amazing jacket designer Sophie Burdess.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to love them and be just a little bit obsessed with how gorgeous they are.  It’s very pleasing that there is such beauty in the physical manifestation of this story, which (in my opinion anyway) is also pretty darn beautiful.

So the only problem now is the fact that I won’t let anybody touch them.  I mean, obviously people can touch their own copies, but they CAN’T TOUCH MINE.  Not even my husband and kids can touch mine.  Especially not them.  They and their greasy fingers are not respectful enough of the sumptuously velvety soft matt finish.

Now and for the foreseeable future, I am to be found standing over my personal finished copies, growling at anyone who dares to come close and muttering like Gollum.

Writing On the Run

I’ve been talking to thirteen and fourteen year olds about writing lately (as you do) and one of the things I found myself going on about was how you don’t need an office to write.  I mean, hell, you don’t even need a desk.  I’m not saying I don’t fantasise about that little “room of my own”, particularly when I’m being hoovered around/yelled at by small people/deafened by Spanish football commentary but I don’t NEED it.  Like NEED it need it.  I mean, I’ve written one and a half books without it.  If you want to write, if you love to write, if you live to write, you will WRITE.  Wherever and whenever.  All you really need is your ideas and your love for the craft.

Oh, and maybe a nice laptop.

And a brain helps.

And some hands (so you can type).

Anyway here are some pictures of me, writing in silly places, which is what I do best.

WOTR Galicia WOTR Asturias WOTR Portugal

TLODB: The Soundtrack

The Loneliness of Distant Beings hits shelves in just six weeks, so I’m celebrating by sharing the playlist I’ve made for it.  Most of these are songs I listened to while writing the book, and I always think that whatever you’re listening to has a massive effect on the atmosphere of what you end up with. Basically it’s the soundtrack to the movie you have playing in your head, the one you’re frantically typing away trying to record and evoke.  And yeah, these are also the kinds of songs that should totally be used when if (oh the hell with it) WHEN the book gets made into a film.

And I mean I reckon it would work pretty well as an accompaniment to reading too.

The Inevitability of Space

I’ve been asked quite a few times now why I decided to write about space and, so, ok, here’s the answer.

I’m not sure really but my best guess is that it has something to do with writing at night.  And also living on the Costa del Sol.  I mean, there’s only so many times you can find yourself outside, at two o’clock in the morning, when (in the summer anyway) it’s still mid-thirties degrees centigrade, and the sky is utterly, completely, epicly cloudless and there is just this like DIAMOND MINE of stars above you before you just succumb.  You succumb and you’re like, OK OK I get it, you want me to think about you, you want me to consider you, you want me to start thinking about why we don’t know more about you yet, and whether we’re alone with all this awesome.

But you know, that’s not all there is to it.  Not entirely.  It’s no coincidence that I’m thirty seven years old – the same age as Star Wars, the same age as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the same age as Voyager 1 and its golden record, now headed out across the space that separates our solar system from its nearest neighbours.  

Looking at it this way it was almost inevitable that it would permeate my consciousness the way it has.  Looking at it this way, the real questions is how could I NOT write about space.

Readings and Existential Crises

asktheauthorWhat happens when a thirteen year old asks you if your novel is Existentialist?  

I mean, like, obviously the first thing that happens is that you wish you could google Existentialism in your mind, because even though you studied it in various forms at university you haven’t had much reason to think about it since then and so its exact (or even vague) meaning briefly (or totally) eludes you.  Then, since you can’t do any invisible googling, you try your best to blag it which, in a school, usually involves batting the question back at the asker, a la “Do YOU think it’s Existentialist?”

To which the general conclusion was yes.  It was only later (once I could google) that I realised he was right, that he had identified something about the book I wrote that I didn’t know myself and that in fact nobody had even mentioned before this point.

This was just one of the things I learned about doing author readings in the week I did my first ever (four of them) to Year 9 and Year 8 students at the school where I am the librarian.  I wonder whether all audiences will be as unexpectedly engaged and receptive as these were, or as varied.  What was really interesting was how each session had its own individual character and focus.  The first was solidly focused on business (for this read money), the second on process, the third on the actual plot and world-building, and the fourth veered between the ethics and development of the publishing industry as well as the broader philosophical implications of what I’ve written.  I know, right?  Not bad for 12-14 year olds, most of whom are working in a second language too.

Another highlight was when a girl asked me whether writing my book had given me any personal epiphanies (her exact words).  Once I got over how impressed I was with her originality and insight, I sat there trying to formulate my answer only to realise (slowly, in stages, like a sunrise) that maybe it had.

So this is what I learned about readings: I learned that because they are so personal they are terrifying (think dry mouth, shakes, cold sweats, mind blanks, everything) but I also learned that they are eye opening.  Hearing myself talk about my book but, more importantly, hearing the perspectives of my audience, made me realise all these things about it I hadn’t before and probably never would have without their input.  So yeah, while it takes a lot of out you to lay it all on the line like that (especially in a place where you work and where everyone knows you and where you have to turn up again the next day), when you weigh it up against what you get back, you definitely come out winning.

Book Review: All The Bright Places

ATBPUrgh, writer’s envy is a terrible thing.  And I felt it on basically every other page, if not more, of this book.  There’s just so much I love about the surprising and original writing.  And the characters are just so vividly drawn, not just Violet and the amazing Finch, but so so many others as well – their families, their school friends, even the bit parts are so solidly depicted.  The love story is so well paced as well, so compelling.  Literally could NOT put it down.  I think this is one of the better, more relatable and sensitive depictions of mental health issues I’ve seen, as well as giving a fresh, original and realistic take on it.  Totally jealous, and can’t wait for the movie.

Don’t Believe the Hype

OK, so I “did a Stephen Fry” when I read my first bad review. Even had a sleepless night and everything. But I’ve got a few now and I’ve become philosophical about it (sort of). Not everyone’s going to like my book. Some people are going to hate it. The good thing about people is that they’re all different and all have different opinions, and that’s OK. Having reviews (whether good or bad) is cool. It’s kind of a thrill to have people talking about my book, regardless of what they say. Especially when most people, even those who are unimpressed, mention a passing interest in a sequel. *rubs hands together* HA! I knew I’d get you one way or another…


Just putting together a little presentation for school book week and remembered the quote about books being lighthouses in the sea of time. Apparently originally said by Edwin Percy Whipple. I really like the idea of books passing their stories, their information, their wisdoms, their voices, their messages out across the vast, dark ocean between them and the people reading them.

Anyway I’ve named this blog in honour of that quote, and I will write stuff on it that’s more likely to be unbearable than much of a lighthouse. But, you know, I guess that’s OK too.