Writing writing writing

When Mummy goes to work in the morning, we explain to the three year-old that Mummy is writingwritingwriting. He’s used to it. He can spot Mummy’s book on Amazon and finds it normal (unlike Mummy). He also knows that while Mummy’s computer is primarily useful for looking at Barney and Sesame Street characters on YouTube (when not watching Japanese trains – he has eclectic YouTube tastes and is already a master with the tracker pad), occasionally it’s needed for writing books.

But Mummy has not been writingwritingwriting recently. Mummy has been PowerPointPowerPointPowerpointing. And it’s not the same thing.

Surely it’s easier to put together forty slides of pretty dresses, summing up everything I know and believe about fashion influences, than to write an actual book with a plot and everything? Well, apparently not.

The past couple of weeks have been surprisingly stressful. Finding the images. Negotiating use of the images. Importing the images, and, most of all, working out what order to put the images in. Like a real presentation with a structure and a point. Like the olden days, when I used to be a management consultant, in fact.

Then I finished the forty slides, filed them, and could get on with working out how book 3 is going to pan out. I wrote over 2,700 words today. They just flooded onto the page. Plottingplottingplotting. Complicated stuff. Four characters with developing lives and deep emotional journeys to make. Two continents. Twists and turns. And more of those dresses. I only stopped because the clock said 5 and that means tea-time and if Mummy isn’t home with the Barney machine, there’s trouble.

I should have been exhausted. I was elated. I skipped round the house and did useful things for the next four hours with a smile on my face.

Mummy likes writing very much. It’s complicated and tiring and not always easy. She’s seen all sorts of problems that need serious attention and she can’t wait to sort them out. She’s started to be schizophrenic again: seventeen year-old fashion maven by day, fish finger deliverer by night. Her rucksack is seriously heavy as she lugs the Barney machine, her notebooks, power cable, snacks, Grazia and the rest of it across the Common to the library. She’s got a twinge in her back.

But she’s happy again. Not writing has been deeply stressful. Much more tiring than actually doing it. Now she’s back in the familiar pattern. Yay yay yay!

Fashion from the back row

DSC01060So, Sophia Bennett, what was your first visit to a live London Fashion Week show actually like?

I’m so glad you asked. Very exciting to be on the edge of the in-crowd. Sooo cool to be able to saunter up to the main tent at Somerset House and hand security my gold pasteboard card and then waft inside like a real fashion person. Kept on almost bumping in to Peaches Geldof, as you do. Am I sounding all cool and fashion-blogger-y? Oh, sorry. Well, I try. Anyway, once the show started it was like Graduate Fashion Week, actually, which is in May, is available to anyone and costs a tenner a show. But you have to go to both to find that out, I guess.

What was the biggest difference?

Anna Wintour wasn’t sitting four rows in front of me at Graduate Fashion Week. And they don’t serve pre-show glasses of champagne mixed with chambord. Yum!

And the best bit?

Anna Wintour sitting four rows in front of me.

What about the clothes?

DSC01053Oh yes, those. Well, it was the Jaeger show, so cool and commercial, rather than way-out and funky. The clothes were fine, thanks. Lots of gold. Lots of skimpy tops and hardly any bottoms at all. A very lovely asymmetric red cocktail dress. All rushing up and down the catwalk at speed. Hard to take it all in. Glad I didn’t have to take notes, like a real fashion person.

And the weirdest bit?

Being interviewed by German TV afterwards. Why? Oh, and the catwalk was covered in shagpile. SHAGPILE! Which the poor, young, spindly, underweight models had to negotiate in platform wedges, at a canter. No funky posing for them. Just a careful U-turn in front of the photographers, praying not to fall over. Whoever designed the set has something against poor, young, spindly, underweight models.

You sound as though you were a bit upset by those models.

DSC01057Yes. I was. There’s a big hoo-hah about model weight (yet again) at the moment, because Mark Fast dared to use size 14-16 (ie normal) models to show off his knitwear. I’ve seen the photos and they looked fab. The poor Jaeger girls couldn’t fill out the clothes. And anyone with boobs or hips wouldn’t have a clue how they’d fit. Up to now, I gave the whole size-zero model thing the benefit of my remaining scintilla of doubt that maybe they had to be that thin to look good. They don’t.

But overall, are you glad you went?

Oh yes, thrilled. I can finally have an informed opinion on underweight models. And shagpile. And the model of engineering perfection that is Anna Wintour’s auburn bob. And the deliciousness of champagne mixed with chambord. And I can keep the gold pasteboard invitation to show my grandchildren.

Will you be buying anything from Jaeger?

Possibly. But I’d have to try it on first, to see what on earth it really looks like.

Thank you, Sophia Bennett. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.

Dear Anna

Where to begin?

OK, first of all, if you’re one of those Emma Watson fans (the hits are still coming), have you seen this: Emma Watson launches ethical fashion range with People Tree? Oh, that girl. For a start, she looks gorgeous and normal in the photo. Happy, beautiful, the right age, funky with her black fingernails – everything a snappy would-be fashion blogger could want. And second, she’s heading for sainthood. She’s obviously read the manuscript for Threads 2 and is beating me to it. But I don’t care. Yay for Emma!

Next, this is me at about 3 o’clock this afternoon. I’m in a frenetic office off Regent Street where exquisitely-clad young men and women are madly inviting people to London Fashion Week, and I’m signing 50 advance copies of the INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL hardback of Threads, which has just arrived. It’s the same size as the paperback (for ease of production), so quite small and neat and snug and you just want  to pick it up and give it a cuddle. And everything about it, front and back is perfection. I’ve got my pink LFW highlighter in my hand and I’m writing a dedication to ANNA WINTOUR. HAHAHAHAHA (mad, authorial I-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening laughter).

That harback cover in full. Happy sigh

That harback cover in full. Happy sigh

Not that Anna is there, waiting to have it placed in her hot little hand, of course. But it will reach her eventually. There are fashion wheels within fashion wheels.


And I’m wondering whether to do the one to Carine Roitfeld (editor of French Vogue. You knew that) in English or French. I went for French and probably spelled it wrong, but hopefully she’ll forgive me when she sees it. HAHAHAHAHA.

There was going to be more. My LFW adventure in Warehouse. My almost-but-not-quite making the opening of Christopher Kane in Topshop. My perfect dress experience in the Matthew Williamson bit of Liberty. My failed attempts to match Barry Cunningham in explaining Threads to a bookish audience. But no time now.

I just have time to stare at the INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECTLY SIZED hardback copy of my book on the mantelpiece before I really have to go to sleep. It’s been a busy few days. And Fashion Week starts shortly and I have a couple of invitations in my bag (HAHAHAHAHA), so I need to do something about the non-designer bags under my eyes.

G’night all.

I think I’m launched now

That dress in full

That dress in full

The Village Books team. Yay!

The Village Books team. Yay!

The amazing Barry Cunningham, doing his thing

The amazing Barry Cunningham, doing his thing

Me and Angela, admiring outfits

Me and Angela, admiring outfits

Imogen, my wonderful editor (who's reading book 2 - fingers crossed)

Imogen, my wonderful editor (who's reading book 2 - fingers crossed)

So last night was launch party night. I originally wasn’t going to have one, because nobody in the book world has heard of me (yet, hehe …), but then I thought of all the friends who’ve kept my spirits up while I was writing this crazy book, and I really wanted to say thank you.

And there I was, surrounded by my family and lots of old, dear friends, and a few new friends like my PUBLISHER and my AGENT and the amazing Angela Thurston, who designed my dress, and having the time of my life. It was totally worth writing the book just for this moment.

Meanwhile, Meg Cabot has been writing about her visit to BRAZIL, where she’s been travelling in a PARTY BUS with the likes of BERNARD CORNWELL and doing salsa and drinking guaranas. Which is what happens when you are a VERY FAMOUS AUTHOR. And it all sounds great and she writes about it beautifully.

But I bet I had more fun.

A mean, mean lady



I dunno. I sit here writing about writing and I’ve just had a BOOK come out, and minor stuff like that, but the runaway blog post that’s had the most hits is the piece I did on why I don’t like Emma Watson in the Burberry ads. Love the girl in general. Just not in the ads. Blog readers out there seem fascinated.

I asked a techie friend of mine how to make my blog successful ages ago, and he mentioned several things (most of which I don’t do), but I don’t think he mentioned Emma. Must have escaped his mind. However, if you’re a blogger yourself, you can have it as a free tip from me. Emma means ratings. I doubt the poor girl will ever have a moment’s true privacy again.

But if you’re reading this for more wit and wisdom on the subject of the gorgeous Miss Watson and her wardrobe, I’m sorry. I have much to say on the subject. Were we to meet at a coffee shop, I could go on about it for hours. However, a VERY EXCITING authorial thing has just happened, and I’m going to blog about that instead.

Chicklish have finally published their review of Threads. I say ‘finally’. Chicklish would say – look, you crazy author woman, your book only came out a week ago, what d’you want, blood? But a week is a long time in publishing. When you’re a debut author and have nothing better to do than send your kids back to school and scour the internet for references to your book (oh yeah, you’d do it to, don’t kid yourself) every review-less day that goes by is one of confusion and mild panic.

Did they not like it? Are they trying to phrase the piece as diplomatically as they can to spare my blushes? Did it interest them so little that it kind of drifted down to the bottom of the pile? Etc. Etc. Never live with an author. Especially during launch week. If I dare try and tell my husband what my Amazon ranking is, he threatens to leave the room.

But today it appeared. Written by Carly Bennett. No relation, but you’d really think she was my sister, she was so nice. I’m going to print it out and have it framed above my desk, or something (alongside Amanda Craig’s – also no relation, but also a very discerning book critic, I find).

She says I’m a mean, mean lady for making her cry at the ‘if you’ve read the book you’ll know which bit’ bit. I think she’s a lovely lovely person for liking my book so much.

Thank you, Carly. You’ve made a mad, launch-obsessed author very happy.

Oh, and I finished the rewrites of book 2 yesterday and got it off to my editor. Contented sigh.

Oh, and I just did a fashion Q&A for The Times. I’d blog about that, too, but I still can’t quite believe it really happened. See? Launch week. Crazy time.

Today I am mostly …

OK, this is my day.

Try and find elder son’s school uniform. He goes back tomorrow and most of his shirts are missing. We’ll wing it. We’ll be fine.

Meet up and coming fashion designer, Tanielle Lobo, who’s helping me with my slot at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. As you do.

Go to cafe next door to cafe where I met Tanielle. (I need the variety). Fix thing in book 2.

Unfix thing in book 2. It was better before.

Surf Amazon, Twitter and the usual stuff. Write this blog.

Go to son’s pre-school picinic.

(This is where it gets interesting – apart from the Tanielle Lobo bit, which already was) …

Go home and get changed into VIVIENNE WESTWOOD and LOUBOUTINS. (Actually VW and flats with Louboutins in bag. Louboutins and South West Trains probably don’t mix, I’m thinking.)

Go to Piccadilly. Pop into Hatchards and beg them to let me sign copies of my book.

Go to book launch by established author I know who’s book is several hundred places above mine on Amazon. Reassure myself that he’s an established author and nobody’s heard of me. Yet. And I’m the one in Louboutins. He’s a Brigadier, so he’d probably look a bit daft in Louboutins. I don’t know, though …

Try and meet Erica Wagner (literary editor of The Times). She’s led the life I’ve dreamed of from school (St Pauls) and university (Cambridge – actually I did go there, but not first time) through Malcolm Bradbury’s creative writing MA at East Anglia to learned tomes on Ted Hughes and her current job. And apparently she’s very nice. I’m hoping to corral her into a corner and have a FASCINATING conversation with her about books for boys (hers is nine, mine is eight). She’ll love it, I’m sure.

Come home. Do ironing.

Perfect day, no?


The actress did it

Just so’s you know, Julia McKenzie is brilliant in the latest Miss Marple. After a succession of wimpy, simpering, blue-rinsed failures, at last we have someone whose every expression suggests dangerous cleverness (if you’re the one what dunnit), huge human sympathy and zero over-acting. And she reminds me of my Granny. Which, oddly, none of them have done before.

And Matthew McFadden’s ‘I think I’m following you, Jane, but just run that one by me again’ expression, even under the moustache, was a joy to behold.

Bed now, but ITV3 are on safe ground here. A future classic in the making. Hooray!