A typical week in the life …

… of a newly-published children’s author. NOT.

  1. Sunday: go to Glastonbury, on what they called in their newspaper (yes, they have a newspaper – it’s that kind of music festival) ‘the most epic day of the most epic Glasto’. Ie the one with the best weather EVER. Put Factor 40 all over me and the girls. Have an amazing time, watching circus acts, Paloma Faith wearing what a parachutist’s outfit would look like if it was made out of net, spangles and suspenders and attached to 2 massive helium balloons, Ray Davies (wearing what a jacket would look like if it was a jacket), Dr John, Faithless and yes, the amazing Stevie. Michael Eavis really can’t sing, by the way. I mean, REALLY. Even Happy Birthday. But it was lovely to watch him with his arm around Stevie, at the end of the festival, in front of about 100,000 of us, give or take, trying.

  1. Monday: recover from Glastonbury. Suddenly remember I have a teen writing event to go to in Dulwich, where I get to meet lots of my favourite blogging and tweeting writing friends, including Luisa Plaja, Keris Stainton, Sarra Manning, Simmone Howell and Susie Day. You can read Susie’s account of it here. Lots of book signing goes on. I accidentally call Keris a bus, by which I mean that I don’t meet her for six months and then I meet her twice in a week (I’m seeing her in Manchester tomorrow). Judging by the look on Keris’s face, this doesn’t come out quite as well as I intended. Sorry, Keris. I’ll do it better in the rewrite. I’m the bus, OK? I’m the bus.
  2. Tuesday: go to the shed and write for all I’m worth, because book 3 needs to be back to my editor in a matter of days. I’m at the fact-checking stage now, like do you say Seventy-Third Street or 73rd Street, and Fifth Avenue or 5th Avenue? (It’s 73rd and Fifth, by the way.) Am interrupted many times by questions about the cover of this book and also the title. Also the title of Threads in the US, because Threads itself doesn’t necessarily translate that well. Everyone likes Beads, Boys & Bangles, though, so we need similar titles for books 1 and 3. Which means thinking of 6 title words! Six! Ideally starting with the same letter. This hard! Luckily, everyone agreed in Dulwich on Monday that titles are tough, so I know it’s not just me. Phew. School event in the evening. Have a lovely time. Come home late. Grab some sleep.
  3. Wednesday: more writing in the shed. Plus a bit of blogging, because I miss it. Plus preparing my talk for a symposium at the inaugural Manchester Children’s Book Festival, where I shall be sitting alongside Barry, a new author called Robert Williams, Melvin Burgess (SO not a new author) and Philip Pullman’s agent. OMG. No pressure, then. It’s for aspiring children’s writers and I will be telling them that writing is HARD WORK. Golly, even the title is hard work. I may also mention that I love every minute of it, and there is a certain amount of drinking (fizzy water, I was driving) with friendly tweeting and blogging other writers involved, but mostly it will be the hard work theme. I think they need to know.
  4. Thurdsay. Manchester. Do the symposium with Philip Pullman’s agent etc. OMG. Have coffee with Keris – having met up for the second time in a week. I’m the bus, OK? Me. Come home.
  5. Friday: prepare for school visit on Monday. Go to nine year-old’s sports day. Make picnic. Eat picnic. Squeeze in a bit more editing of book 3 before sending it back to my editor.
  6. Saturday: go to Wiggles concert in Hammersmith with the three year-old and some friends. Toot toot chugga chugga big red car, we’re gonna DRIVE the whole day LONG.

Da Daaah. That’s my week. It’s not always so full of stuff. Sometimes it’s mostly go-to-the-shed-and-write-then-pick-up-kids-from-school. Hopefully next week will be a bit like that. But even though fitting in things like a hairwash are remarkably tricky at the moment, I think I’ll look back in years to come and think, wow, that bit was fun. What little I can remember of it. Toot toot chugga chugga.

This week I am mostly …

… not blogging because …

  • I’m deep in the rewrites for book 3 (whose title is still not quite there), and each time I get to the end of the story I have to go back, start again, and make it tighter
  • I’m planning my outfit for GLASTONBURY ON SUNDAY!!!!, when I’m going with the girls. My parents live nearby, so we get Sunday admission if we’re lucky. This year we’re lucky. Not that my outfit will be particularly complicated, but the rewrites are taking 99% of my brain space. Stevie Wonder, here I come.

Next week might be the same, but hopefully I’ll find a moment to say how AMAZING STEVIE WONDER WAS. Because he will be.

Now back to the rewrites. These books don’t write themselves, you know …

Have shoes, will travel

On Saturday, all the menfolk in my family gave me a few hours off to go window-shopping for dresses for the cover of book 3. This put me in an unnaturally good mood. (And my natural mood is good, so this was really good.)

The thing that I do when I’m in an unnaturally good mood is see things, like them and quite often buy them. Which is probably why, when I saw these, I liked them and bought them:

They are Vivienne Westwood heels. They are plastic. They are comfy. They are PINK and have HEARTS ON. What’s not to love? I’m wearing them right now and they’re still making me smile. (I try not to think about how many books I’ll have to sell to pay for them …)

I will be wearing these shoes on several occasions, some of which may include the following. Please note how much fun stuff I have coming up. Do I have the best job in the world? Well, yes I do.

On 1 July, I’ll be taking part in a symposium with Melvin Burgess (yes, THE Melvin Burgess) and Barry Cunningham OBE (yes, OBE, just announced) at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival.

On 2 October, I’ll be a the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature.

On 6 October, I’ll be at the StarLit Festival in Shoreditch, which is where I set chapter 1 of Threads, so it’s very special to me. I will be accompanied by Pritt, Vogue, Grazia and scissors. It will be fun. Promise.

On 13-15 October, I’ll be taking part in the Armed, Pink and Dangerous tour of Ireland (including Limerick, Cork and Dublin) with the very lovely Sarah Webb and Judi Curtin. Also fun. Also a promise. Pink stretch limos have been mentioned in some of the admin emails. We’ll have to see if they materialise.

On 28 October I’ll be at the Wessex Festival with Barry again. (That’s the book festival, not to be confused with the beer festival or the folk festival.) Barry’ll be getting sick of those shoes …

All of these events, and my school visits, and more, will be on my events page, currently on www.sophiabennett.com, and soon to appear on www.threadsthebook.com. If you want to come and see those shoes in action, take a look. You know you want to.

Photos, please

I was visiting the High School for Girls in Gloucester yesterday, and I passed a display cabinet full of THE MOST INCREDIBLE STUFF. Small cushions, bags, a lace-up boot made out of ceramic tiles … all of it bursting with colour and very beautiful. All of it made by GCSE students or younger. It was totally wow and I could happily have incorporated any of it into my home. (And I’m not just saying this because the subject leader for Textiles turns out to be Miss Bennett.)

It made me think, as Carrie says in Sex and the City. How many girls and boys out there are creating really beautiful things that they would like to share? If you’ve made something at school, or at home, and you’d like to take a picture and send it to me to go in a gallery, please do. Just let me know your first name and your age and I’ll post my favourites.

I also visited Airthrie school in Cheltenham. While I was there, I met up with Jewel, who won the Threads fashion competition. As a reminder, this is the dress she designed (aged 11), which just shows what you can do.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of something I made earlier – well, actually something my publisher made. A big pile of books, for me to sign, in Waterstones in Cheltenham, provided by the very lovely Barbara. This is one of the many ways, in case you were wondering, to make an author very happy:

Making Hay

First of all, thank you very much if you’ve sent me a message recently, and I’m sorry I haven’t replied yet. My inbox is full – as is my life – and I will get to you, I promise. It just might take a few days.

I got back from the Hay Festival on Saturday evening. My talk was on Friday morning, but I stayed an extra day to see as many other authors as I could. One thing led to another, and I ended up on a panel of children’s writers on Saturday morning, answering a range of questions put to us by the audience.

The most memorable of these was: ‘What do you do when you’ve just read the best book ever and you know you’ll never read another one like it again?’

(The book in question, by the way, – we asked – was Mal Peet’s ‘Exposure’. Which Julia Eccleshare, who was on the panel, sitting next to me, OMG, has helped award the Guardian Children’s Fiction Book Prize.)

Various people gave their advice, which basically amounted to Keep Calm and Carry On. It was suggested that maybe, probably, one day you’ll find something equally as good, although we could tell from the questioner’s polite face that he found it hard to imagine.

Other people on that panel included Francesca Simon, who writes the Horrid Henry stories, Patrick Ness, who wrote The Knife of Never Letting Go, and Morris Gleitzman, who wrote Once, Then and Now. OMG OMG. There was also Stephen Butler, whose ‘The Wrong Pong’ comes out next year, and Jonathan Douglas, the very funny and charming Director of the National Literacy Trust. Being in their company was simply amazing. And extremely good fun. Children’s writers are a lovely, friendly bunch of people. We all enjoyed ourselves and I think the audience did too.

And I enjoyed my proper talk just as much. The girls (and boys) and parents who came were wonderful, asked some great questions and made me feel very welcome. And also as though I’m not the only person who’s interested in fashion and ethical concerns. Which is a big relief. Plus I got to show the audience some of the pieces from my own wardrobe that have inspired me. Not something I get to do very often, and it was great. It also meant that if I had a fashion disaster (which, luckily, I didn’t) I had plenty of spare outfits to change into.

When not sitting next to Julia Eccleshare, or chatting to Morris Gleitzman, I found myself feet away from the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy (who was great and who won the Puffin of Puffin’s debate with her choice, Goodnight Mr Tom), and also Melvyn Bragg and Camila Batmanghelidjh – who is a real Mr Tom to hundreds of children in South London, and a truly inspirational woman. I spent half the time rubber-necking in the authors’ tent and the other half listening to some fabulous talks. Oh, and I managed to have coffee with Lucy Christopher, who wrote Stolen, and who’s a Chicken House friend.

The sun shone. The coffee was delicious. The local people couldn’t possibly have been more welcoming. And waiting for me, on my laptop, was the US version of Threads, which my US editor wanted to run by me. The nicest possible ‘work’ to have to go back to.

What do you do when you’ve just had the best time ever, and you can’t imagine it being as good again?

Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s the only solution.

New website, new competition

Hello lovely blog reader people

Well, the time has come. This blog has been fun – and will continue to be fun: I’m not stopping – but I needed something more grown-up. More sophisticated. Something with a navigation bar and lots of photos and drawings. Something in fact that looks a lot like … a website.

It’s here, at www.sophiabennett.com. And in honour of its launch, I’m running a new competition. A signed book of your choice. (One of my books, obviously. You can’t order “The History of Fashion” or the Oxford English Dictionary. Get those yourself.) Plus some bangles in honour of BB&B. I happen to live in bangle-rich country here on the Wandsworth/Tooting borders. You get a lot of bangle for your buck. So there will be quite a few.

To enter, go to http://www.sophiabennett.com and head for the News section. The Welcome competition post will tell you everything you need to know. Which isn’t much. This won’t be the most stretching comp you’ve ever entered. And tell me what you think of the new site.

Meanwhile, I shall be at the Hay Festival, talking on Friday morning to the early crowd, getting themselves into position for Cathy Cassidy at 11.30. I have my beautiful slide presentation (3 copies), the address on sat nav, wellies, spare outfits and lots of vitamin pills. What can possibly go wrong?

Wish me luck!