Dressing Up reminder

Big reminder, everybody. The Dressing Up competition (describe an outfit for your favourite character and the winning outfit will be used in book 3) FINISHES ON 31 JANUARY.


So if you’re thinking of entering, please do it this weekend!

I’ll be judging the entries in Feb. Make sure yours is one of them, designer-reader people.

Those fashion competition winners in full …

Ta daaa!

The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Well, lots of you, anyway. And quite rightly. Hundreds of you entered the Threads fashion competition, to design a dress to be made by Tammy and featured in Bliss. As I announced earlier, the winner was Jewel Simpfendorfer. Go Jewel! But I have finally got the full list of second place, highly commended and runners up. I’ve posted all the names on the threadsthebook website, here.

Well done, all of you. We loved your designs and the work you put into presenting them. We’ll be showing the designs on the threadsthebook website soon. And meanwhile, Jewel’s dress is in the process of being made by Tammy and will be featured in the June issue of Bliss, which comes out in the third week of April. (That’s right, June editions can come out in April – that’s fashion publishing.)

Look out for it. Guess who’ll be buying the first copy!

And Jewel, I can’t wait to see you at the V&A in February to discuss YOUR DRESS and YOUR VISIT TO LONDON FASHION WEEK!


Roze vleugels en glitterjurken

Roze vleugels en glitterjurken

Nonie, Edie en Jenny zijn drie vriendinnen. Hartsvriendinnen zelfs, ook al zijn ze nog zo verschillend. Nonie is gek op alles wat met mode te maken heeft, Edie is de studiebol en wil de wereld redden en Jenny heeft een rol in een Hollywood-film.

You guessed it! (At least, I think you did.) Threads in Dutch! (At least, I think it is.) Coming out in May. If you need to order it in Dutch for some reason – like you’re Dutch, for example – it’s here.

And guess what the Dutch for Hollywood film is? (Go on, you know you want to.) It’s Hollywood-film!

I’m learning so much with these translations!


They tell me …

OK, guys – Thursday. That’s what they tell me. Full list on Thursday. That’s when the fashion comp organisers are back from PARIS and MILAN and all the other fashion places they have to go to to do they’re fashion thing. I’m not promising, because stuff happens … but I’m promising I’ll try. Watch this space on Thursday. I know what it’s like to wait (it was ew) so I’ll make it as short as I can.

Nonie lever og ånder for mote

Nonie lever og ånder for mote. Edie planlegger å redde verden. Jenny har fått en rolle i en Hollywood-film. Først når de tre bestevenninnene treffer en yngre flyktningjente som kaller seg Crow, har rosa alvevinger og tegner kjoler, får de en sjanse til å utrette noe virkelig fantastisk – og til å virkeliggjøre drømmene.

How cool is this? Threads in Norwegian! With a translation by the truly wonderful Cecilie Winger (whose name I’m definitely borrowing for a future book).

My first translation. My first foreign edition.


(And if you’re still on tenterhooks, waiting for the announcement of the runners-up in the Tammy fashion competition, I haven’t forgotten, promise! I’ll post the names the minute I have the full, properly-spelled list and the go-ahead from the organising team.)

(And if you’re still thinking about entering the Dressing Up ‘describe an outfit for your favourite character’ competition, it’s open for another week, so GET ON WITH IT! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.)

(And if you’re wondering what to read at the moment, try Flyaway by Lucy Christopher – a fellow Chicken House author. Everyone’s talking about it. I’m desperate for my copy to arrive. Or, of course – if you speak Norwegian – Cecilie’s translation of Threads …)

Strictly Hollywood and Strictly Writing

Whereas the most searched-for words on my blog used to be ‘Emma Watson Burberry’ (there must be literally hundreds of people every day looking for stuff about Emma in her trench coats), Emma is gradually moving aside in favour of Carey Mulligan. Go Carey!

Carey in Vionnet at the launch of An Education in Leciester Square

So for all you Carey fans who, like me, are watching with bated breath as she goes up for EVERY AWARD IN THE UNIVERSE, and is consistently nominated alongside SANDRA BULLOCK and MERYL STREEP, here’s a link to a nice little article about her in the Daily Mail, which is full of useful facts (I assume they’re facts; for once I didn’t spot any glaring errors) – even if they do lose the plot half way through and call her Carey Milligan.

I’ve decided I’m borrowing her hairstyle for Jenny in book 3. Look out for it.

Meanwhile, I’ve been leading my own life in the media spotlight. By which I mean I’ve done an interview for Strictly Writing, which was great fun to write and might give you an insight into how I try and put those books together.

Which reminds me. Must get on with book 3. Because my childminder – who is MUCH better connected than me – is off to Hollywood to stay with a certain up and coming actress for a few days, and I have to take advantage of every child-free moment I’ve got.

People, parties and dragons

Oh golly.

The things I want to share here are stacking up like planes above Heathrow during a snowstorm (or light drizzle, or fog …).

First of all, if you’re confused about the 2 Threads-related fashion competitions, which is understandable, here’s a bit of explanation. The ‘design a dress and send in your design’ one, as described on the threadsthebook website, is over, and I announced the winner in the last post. BUT the ‘think of an outfit for your favourite character and send me a description’ one, as launched on this blog, is still open until the end of January. I’m getting some fabulous entries, so if you want to join them, please do.

Second, I’m sorry if you didn’t win the first competition (see above), but so grateful if you entered. We got loads of thoughtful, inspiring entries and enjoyed looking at every one.

Third, the Chicken House Breakfast on Friday. This was more than just a bowl of cornflakes with my publisher. Chicken House are 10 this year and wanted to celebrate. The thing about them is that they’re a small publishing house (literally – their offices are a little cottage-type-thing in Frome, Somerset), so you get to know everybody and feel like family. The sort of family that includes Cornelia Funke and Brian Williams and Roderick Gordon, the writers of the Tunnels series. And Lucy Christopher. And Rachel Ward. And Di Toft. And Pat Walsh. And Emily Diamand. And Emily Gale. And the soon-to-be-famous CJ Skuse.

A few of us had to tell the assembled crowd how great Barry Cunningham and the team are, which was pretty easy, and how much we enjoy being published by them, which was also pretty easy. In return they gave us bacon butties, fresh orange juice, DELICIOUS eccles cakes, and the opportunity to talk to lots of our favourite people in publishing, from Amanda Craig at The Times, to Jenny  at WondrousReads and my local bookshop owner, Hazel Broadfoot, who is now my official book launch party host. Oh, and we got a world exclusive preview of chapter 4 of Cornelia’s next book, Reckless. As you do. (The first print run is a million copies worldwide. Good grief.)

Click here for a picture of us, courtesy of Roderick Gordon and Twitpic.

Worst moment: seeing a pretty girl trying to talk to me, but being too distracted to say hi.

Best moment: being properly introduced to the pretty girl, and discovering she was Laura from Troubadour, and THE FIRST PERSON IN PUBLISHING EVER TO READ THREADS. She was the person last year who was reading entries into the Times/Chicken House competition and spotted Threads among them and passed it on.

THANK YOU, LAURA! Meeting her was an emotional moment. I never thought I would, for some reason.

Later, I got the chance to catch up with Siobhan, my US editor, and Anja, my German editor. (KERLANNG! Yes, thanks to Chicken House, I have a US and a German editor. I really do!). And also to talk to Elinor Bagenal, the Foreign Rights Manager, about the launch of Threads in Holland and Norway in the near future. As if that wasn’t enough, Elinor has some hair-raising stories to tell about her previous life, which I’m not going to share because I think I need them for book 4. I was gripped.

Threads in Dutch (I think)

Oh. My. God. This is my new life. Sometimes. Very occasionally. But very occasionally, it’s very nice.

But get this. One of the gang, who shall remain nameless (but you know who you are, Mary), couldn’t be at the breakfast … because she was flying first class to BEVERLY HILLS to stay in a FIVE STAR HOTEL with CRESSIDA COWELL to accompany her to the DREAMWORKS PRESENTATION of the NEW MOVIE of her book, How to Train Your Dragon. Oh yes.

The book is one one of my absolute favourites. I’m reading book 4 of the series to the 9 year-old at the moment (for the second time). He could quite happily read it to himself but I make him let me read it to him because it’s SO GOOD. Every character is a delight. Every plot twist is a charm. And you can’t possibly put it down at the end of any chapter, because each one’s a cliff-hanger.

And now Dreamworks have made a 3D movie of it, which is out in the US in March. And Cressida has been jetting around to help them with the publicity.

Do we have the best job in the world?


And the winner is …

Just how much fun can a writer have?

Try sitting in a room between Oxford Circus in London (where all the best high street stores are) and Bond Street (where all the top end designers are), looking at the top 30 entries from THE FASHION COMPETITION BASED ON YOUR BOOK.

There were over 200 entries altogether. The judges were from Chicken House (my lovely publisher, Rachel, and me), Modus Publicity (who’ve done the amazing fashion PR for Threads), Tammy (who will make the winning outfit and give the winner and runner-up lots of free Tammy stuff), and Bliss magazine (who will do the photo shoot of the winning dress).

The top 30 entrants – all girls, as far as I know – had put in loads of work and created some beautiful mood boards and folders. We sat around eating yummy sandwiches (OK, it was mostly me eating the yummy sandwiches) and admiring them. There were lots of gasps of pleasure and amazement as we saw something beautiful and original that caught our eye.

So how did we whittle it down to the top 10 finalists, the Highly Commended (we couldn’t resist), the Second Place and the Winner?

Well … we loved designs that

  • had interpreted the brief well (which was ‘your idea of the perfect dress’, with descriptions of accessories, fabric and signature details)
  • were dresses that girls would want to wear next season – something that’s so hard to do, but means being naturally in tune with the way fashion is developing
  • showed a lot of work and thought – making it quick and easy for us all to imagine the dress – how it would be made and how it would look when it was finished
  • were really original – showing the unique eye of the designer.

As the competition went on, lots of the younger entrants were worried their designs wouldn’t be good enough to match the older entrants. But we were sure that talent and hard work would show through, regardless of the age of the winner.

And that’s what happened. Because we all agreed that our favourite design – the one that Tammy is really looking forward to making and Bliss are really looking forward to photographing – was by Jewel Simpfendorfer, who’s 11.

CONGRATULATIONS, JEWEL! (And yes, by the way, we loved your name too, but it was definitely your design that won.)

I have a picture of it on my phone and I’d love to show you, but I don’t dare, because Bliss might want an exclusive preview! However, when I can, I will.

Calling Jewel this afternoon was one of the most fun things I’ve had to do. It reminded me of the call Barry Cunningham made to me to say that Threads had won the Chicken House competition. And I think I was as stunned and disbelieving as Jewel was when I called her.

I’ll give you the list of the second place, highly commended and runners-up people when I have it in full. I’d hate to leave anyone out! But meanwhile, THANK YOU ALL OF YOU for entering. You were stars. I’m sorry if you didn’t win, but we were so impressed by the thought you put into the competition, the amount of fashion references you had, the amazing drawings you did and the stunning outfits you came up with. Hopefully, this means there might be another competition one day …

By the way, the strangest moments were when the lovely Michaela from Tammy explained how easy or tricky it would be to make up the designs, and whether or not they were ‘commercial’. It was EXACTLY like a couple of scenes in book 2 (out in May, yada yada yada). Eerily so.

I do wish I’d experience these scenes first, then write about them, rather than the other way around, which is the way it always seems to happen. Luckily, I have a final round of tweaks to make to the manuscript next week, so I can incorporate a couple of new ideas then. And when you read those scenes, you’ll know that I was there and that, if you entered the competition, so were you!

Watch this space

I really need to do 3 things:

1. Blog about the Threads fashion competition, which we judged yesterday.

2. Blog about the Chicken House 10th anniversary party, which I’ve just got back from.

3. Pick up the 9 year-old from karate.

Sadly for this blog, the 9 year-old must be picked up in ten minutes, so for the rest, watch this space, but my life as an author has been such amazing fun over the last 48 hours I promise it won’t be a space for long.

The good, the bad and the ugly


Managed to do a plot for book 3 that seemed to weave the strands together without looking like a Gareth Pugh bondage dress. (In joke. Sorry. Look up Gareth Pugh dresses on Google Images, people. Strangely beautiful, but not designed as examples of masterful weaving.)

Didn’t buy an Odd Molly (I LOVE Odd Molly) silk dress that was reduced in my local shop from ‘WHAT? Are you JOKING????’ to ‘Oh, surely not?’. Loving my self restraint.

Got an email from my editor saying nice things about the last lot of line edits to book 2. My editor so knows how to put me in a good mood.

Lots of nice fan mail. Really lovely, thoughtful questions and a couple of great entries to the blog competition (see two posts ago – not too late to join them!). Thank you, people!


Told the three year-old it’s back to school tomorrow. The three year-old was inconsolable (‘but I don’t WANT to see my friends, Mummy’), until I mentioned ice-cream. And lots of it. The second we get home. Before lunch even. Oh, the joys of bribery.


I’ve been planning my outfit for Friday for ages. Got to make a speech in front of lots of publishing people. They won’t care for an instant what I’m wearing, but I will. I have one half-decent dress, that I got when I was supposedly shopping for my stepdaughters in Topshop before Christmas. Sorted.

But then I suddenly realised that on Thursday I’m judging the Threads fashion competition with A BUNCH OF FASHION INSIDERS. Who will totally notice what I’m wearing and will either leave the meeting laughing hollowly to themselves or … Well, probably plan A.

Do I ‘borrow’ the dress from the speech on Friday? In which case, what do I wear on Friday? Do I go back and buy the Odd Molly dress I was so proud of myself for not buying a couple of days ago? Do I dredge something else out of my wardrobe?

That Topshop dress (it looks better on, honest)

What would Meg Cabot do?

OK, Meg Cabot would have a wardrobe full of cute Marc Jacobs numbers and would simply pick  the closest/pinkest/cutest. And accessorise with a tiara. Job done.

Why is real life so much more complicated?

Next time I’m writing a book about accountancy. Or dog handling. Definitely nothing that will ever affect dress selection. I’m not sure I can handle the pressure.