Making a difference

Oh no! It is 9 days since I last blogged. I feel like I’m in the confessional.

It’s not entirely coincidence. I’ve been in one of those ‘head down’ moments. Book 3 is approaching 50,000 words (out of about 70,000), which is the ‘oh, just get on with it’ bit, before the joyous moments (I hope) of tying up all the loose ends that I’ve been carefully distributing and brilliantly rounding off the series. No pressure …

Believe me, even this is not exactly tough. When your worst problem is how to make your characters fit the plot and still be entertaining, true to themselves and age-appropriate, you know you have a pretty fabulous job. But nevertheless, it has its moments. At times like this, there is one thing, apart from my family, (oh, and Threads coming out in Norway, Holland and France this spring – go all of you!), that keeps me going.

Fans. And more to the point, fans who write.

When I was nine, I lived in Hong Kong and I lived for a writer called Anthony Buckeridge, who wrote the Jennings books. Imagine Harry Potter is a normal, tousle-headed boy with very much alive parents and no wizarding powers. That Hogwarts is in the Home Counties, Voldemort doesn’t exist and Hermione is a boy called Venables. And there you have it. The Jennings stories. They were addictive and inspirational. I waited with bated breath for each book. I would travel for two hours across twisting, mountainous roads to get to the only hotel bookshop in the territory that stocked the Jennings books, in the hope – only the hope – that the next one in the series might have arrived.

I was Anthony Buckeridge’s biggest possible fan. I haven’t read a Jennings book since I was about 11. Or at least I hadn’t until my 9 year-old picked up one of my old copies a few weeks ago. And I discovered that I can still remember some of the key scenes word for word. Word for word. I must have read them a million times. But it never, once, occurred to me to write to the man and tell him. I wouldn’t have known how.

(You can buy the books now, by the way. They’ve just started reappearing. I assume that parents like me, who adored them, are bringing them out for our pre-teenage children and the publishers have spotted something and are doing something about it. Hooray! Or, as Jennings would say, wizard! Did he know something? But don’t try and write to Anthony. He died in 2004.)

Today, things have changed. Today we have the internet. Very lucky authors, like me, have books that have websites, with ’email me’ buttons. And we have readers who are brave, chatty and curious. They hit the button. They fill out the form. They tell me what they think about Threads, how it has affected their lives, what they’re up to. They ask me how I came up with the idea, whether I’ve drawn Crow’s designs (which, sadly, I haven’t and never could), and all sorts of other questions that occur to them. So far, I reply to every one. If they don’t get a reply, it’s only because I couldn’t get their email address to work for some reason. Many of them assume I get thousands of emails. I don’t. It’s about one a day, but that’s more than enough.

So, if you’ve emailed me, thank you! You’ve made a tired (but basically happy) author, happier still. You’ve made it easier to write the next 10,000 words. You make a difference to us writer-types, and it’s truly wonderful to know that sometimes, we make a difference to you.

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5 thoughts on “Making a difference

  1. Hi Sophia,
    I just wanted to tell you that I love Threads and I’m going to the V&A tomorrow to visit the Grace Kelly exhibition and do some sketching. I start an art course next week and I thought I’d get some inspiration.
    I will hopefully be going to the cafe for a smoothie with my mum. (btw I’m 34 and she’s going to see the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition).
    I can’t wait to read the sequel. I just hope if it’s ever made into a film that they do justice to Crow’s creations!!!

    Take care, Libby

    • Hi Libby

      So jealous about the Grace Kelly exhibition. Is it on already? I’ve been really looking forward to it. I hope it’s as inspiring as it sounds. You should see the quilts too, if you’ve got time. Apparently, they’re magical and they might end up being as inspirational as Grace. Quilting is becoming quite a respected curatorial (is that a word?) subject. The Radio 4 people all came back from it raving (in a good way). Much to their own surprise.

      I’m not sure if the V&A still do smoothies, so be warned. The cappuccinos were good last time I went, though – and lovely to have them outside in the courtyard if the weather’s warm. Give the place my love.

      The sequel to Threads should be available on Amazon any day now. I’m very extremely excited about it. My copies arrived yesterday and my three year-old has been busy arranging them round the house. They are very yellow!

      Have fun, and thanks so much for getting in touch.

      sophia xxx

      • The Grace Kelly exhibition started today so it’s perfect timing for our visit tomorrow. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. I’m sure it will be amazing.

        Mum’s the quilter in our family so I’ll let her just rave about it to me after. I’m going to sketch the fashion and jewellery!

        thanks for the heads up about the smoothies – I might have been very disappointed otherwise!

        Libby x

  2. Hi Sophia,
    The V&A was awe inspiring. I had forgotten how much I just love the building itself without even starting on all the stuff inside it. I spent ages in the Ironwork gallery sketching ideas for a pendant I want to make. The Grace Kelly exhibition was a little disappointing as it was horrendously busy and not very big but I found a fabulous yellow/orange/red 60s shift dress in room 40 that I loved. The theatre section was amazing too, with David Tennant on one of the video screens too ;o)
    No smoothies – but we had our lunch sat round the fountain and I dragged mum to the cafe to look at the glitter/sparkly balls of light in the ceiling. Mum read Threads on the coach there and back and loved it, and she really recommends the Quilt show.
    Anyway, I’m writing today as I bought Beads, Boys & Bangles this morning and have just finished reading it. It’s great, I’m as in love with it as I was after reading Threads for the first time. I almost want to start reading it again already (can’t though, have to lend it to mum!). The descriptions of the Taj Mahal and Mumbai are amazing, I could see the vivid colours and the white of the TM. Thank you, I can’t wait to read the next one (no pressure there – ;o) )
    Take care

    Libby xx

  3. Thanks, Libby. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed Beads, Boys and Bangles so much. And yay for the V&A cafe! I’m off there next week to see the Grace Kelly exhibition. I hope it’s not too busy when I go. I’ll check out the shift dress in room 40 … It’s always fun to have something special to look out for. sophia xxx

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