Win – quick!

The exquisitely lovely David Maybury has a signed copy of Beads, Boys & Bangles to give away, but you have to be quick: he’s doing the draw at 9.00 this evening!

If you want to be in with a chance, find his blog here.

Good luck. And more competitions soon. Watch this space!

BB&B - UK

Flowers, fashion, CDs and silver wings

Here are some things I promised earlier. First of all, the most co-ordinated girl group in publishing. OK, so we’re all wearing black, white and grey, but it’s kinda working. This is me with Mary, my publicist, Rachel, my publisher and Imogen, my editor. Three women I love to work with and don’t see nearly as much as I’d like. It was a great lunch, girls. Thank you!

Second, I promised I’d show my German cover. There’s a green version too. Isn’t it beautiful? I have to wait until September until I see it in shops. And it’ll be on CD. I’ll get to hear someone actually telling Threads! Admittedly, in German, which I don’t speak, but still … it’ll be amazing.

And third, the Chelsea Flower Show. I went on Tuesday, which was the most beautiful, gorgeous day. I went with my family and thanks to my brother, we got to visit the Laurent Perrier garden (which in my opinion was by far the best) and view it FROM THE INSIDE! Just us! Here are some horticultural pictures from the day. Enjoy!

One of those weeks …

Now, when I don’t write a blog post, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not doing much.

In fact, today was the day when I ended up in the Laurent Perrier garden at Chelsea (and for those keen gardeners out there, note the ‘in’ as opposed to the ‘standing at the edge of, peering yearningly through the foliage and the back of other people’s heads’). And last week I was having the most co-ordinated lunch in publishing, with some of my favourite publishing people. And tomorrow, as it happens, I shall be taking tea at the Berkeley Hotel.

What? you ask. Why? Co-ordinated how? What does she mean ‘in’?

Well. Later, I shall tell you. I shall even provide photographic evidence. But tonight I’m too busy recovering from some of it and preparing for more of it. There’s fake tan to be applied, tummy crunches to do and toenails to perfect with my current favourite shade of bubblegum pink. These authorial events don’t just take care of themselves, you know.

But meanwhile, as I’m too busy, frankly, to share it all with you, here’s a link to the lovely YA Reader and her latest post about the Hay Festival. Because next week, I shall be even busier. Doing stuff like talking about my inspirations for Threads and watching lots and LOTS of other authors talk about writing.

Have I mentioned that I have the best job in the world? I think I might have done … When I had a spare moment …

I’m launched – again!

Several lifetimes ago (but actually last September) I had my very first launch party. It was fabulous. I held it in my local bookshop, Village Books in Wandsworth, who did all the preparation, and all I had to do was invite my friends and the people who’d helped me make the book (my editor and publisher – people like that), bring along some fairy cakes and have the time of my life.

So when the time came to do it all again (so quickly – I can’t tell you how quickly) it was VERY EASY. Same location. Same guests. Same fairy cakes. Well, slightly newer ones, but same principle. Same fabulous time. Even the same shoes. (By fashion maths, my Louboutins are just about breaking even.)

My parents were there. My mother wore a vintage Ossie Clark jacket from the sixties. Oh. My. God. Lots of the mummies from school came and were very supportive. Thanks, girls! Barry Cunningham, my amazing publisher was there, and made another really lovely speech. Apparently I remind him of Gene Hackman and The French Connection 2. Long story, but I’m very touched. I forgot to thank Hazel and Julian at Village Books publicly for all their incredible work in putting the party together, so I’m doing it here. THANK YOU HAZEL AND JULIAN. YOU ARE AMAZING. I AM YOUR BIGGEST FAN.

I was surrounded by a) books, b) friends and c) prosecco. Three of my favourite things. Yay! Beads, Boys and Bangles is now officially launched and I think I’ve just about recovered.

My brother was my official photographer. Here’s a glimpse of the fun that was had – by me, at least …

This was the photo I used for the invitation. Tom would rather have been reading Thunderbirds, but there you go …

Selling books. Note the big pile by the till! Yay!

With Julian and Hazel. Independent booksellers rock!

Chatting to Hazel. Check the authorial shoes.

Signing. A favourite authorial activity. It always helps to check first that it's your book ...

After the party ... I'm surrounded by family, cakes and books. Perfect!

Where do your ideas come from?

Mick Jagger was recently talking to Will Gompertz, the unlikely-named arts editor at the BBC, about the re-release of the 1971 album, Exile on Main Street. As I’ve long wanted to write a grown-up novel about a decadent band putting together an iconic album in a villa in the South of France (who wouldn’t, frankly? – imagine the research), I’ve been following the PR about this quite a bit.

Anyway, Mick said this:

People say, “is a song written from your own experience?” The answer is “of course it isn’t!” Bits of it are your experience, bits of things you’ve learnt off other people, bits you’ve nicked from other people’s lives, and bits you read in a newspaper. And all this goes to make a song, a novel or a play.

Exactly. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Don’t need to now. Thanks, Mick.

The Princess’s Old Clothes

Whisper it … Grace Kelly may have dressed in practically non-stop Dior for years, but she had … and I can hardly bring myself to say it but somebody has to …

Really weird taste in clothes.

Oh, yes, there were the perfect little shirtwasters, the lace skirt suit for her civil marriage (gorgeous, covetable), the mega wedding dress for the religious ceremony (iconic), the draped satin thing she wore to get her Oscar (fab) and the occasional boat-necked lace dress that was so perfect I wanted to rip it out of its case at the V&A and run away with it.

But.

There was also (and it was a personal favourite of hers) the orange, yellow and pink kaftan number with jewelled neck and wrists, the brown one with camel sleeves and many other floaty, drapey things that had they been worn by other duchesses and princesses I could mention, would have the tabloids laughing for YEARS AND YEARS.

Weird taste in clothes, but it worked. Partly because she had Fabulous Hair. Truly, incredibly, Fabulous Hair. It went from ‘a bit curly not sure what to do with it’ in the early actress days to ‘oh my God incredible’ in the Alexandre of Paris late princess days. Not sure how much of it was actually hers. Don’t care. She wore it well.

Also, she wore the clothes well. One of the lovely things about the V&A exhibition is that there are two film reels, playing over and over, showing her early and later days, and in all of them, moving about and smiling, she looks the elegant fashion icon we think of her as. She said, apparently, that she had to wear simple designs because she got lost in anything complicated. Well, she knew what suited her. Bizarre on a mannequin in a display case, but gorgeous on her, waving graciously, doing her thing. Even the yellow-orange-pink-jewelled thing with batwing sleeves looked somehow regal.

And I like the fact that she wore her favourites a lot. She wasn’t exactly thrifty. You can’t fill the central area of the V&A costume section with your personal Dior, Givenchy and Balenciaga collection and be thrifty, but in fashion maths, her cost per wear was very respectable.

I had to wait two and a half hours to get in to see the exhibition. I haven’t seen much about it in the news, but maybe the V&A doesn’t need to advertise. I was expecting to flit in on a weekday, no problem. But on the number 14 bus from Piccadilly, there were three ladies sitting behind me who were going there too, so excited, comparing birth dates (and in the process making me feel so younger-generation – thanks, girls!). And the place was packed.

I spent a bit too much of my waiting time in the V&A shop. I LOVE THAT PLACE! They had a book about eco design that featured my brother’s furniture. Three times! Yay! And a couple of necklaces that nearly tempted me into spending the advance for book 3. Very unwise. We need to eat. Plus some amazing silk bangles that were stunning and cheap, and which, of course, I bought. If you want something quirky and beautiful, quite probably made by a young designer and good for the planet – try the shop.

Then I retired to the cafe and read a book about the Clash (research – I love my job) and a collection of short stories by amazing, funny writers for The Queen of Teen. You must buy this book. Not only is it very, very funny (I particularly recommend the Joanna Nadin story), but proceeds go to The Kids Company, which longstanding readers of this blog will know is a favourite of mine.

It was slightly odd to go from Joe Strummer and Joanna Nadin to Grace Kelly and Marc Bohan. (Marc Bolan would have made more sense. Just thought of that. Very funny Dior/T-Rex reference. OK – maybe you had to be there …) But overall, and rainbow kaftans aside, yesterday was a good day.