Secret dreams

And so we reach the end of The Look blog tour. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s hosted me so far.

The Look tells the story of a girl who gets the chance to live the dream. Well, some girls’ dream, anyway. She’s scouted to be a model and if she wants to, she could end up as the star of a campaign in New York. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? Until you end up in a bath of fake snakes …

Anyway, modelling was never my dream. After my Olympic gymnast and air hostess phases I just wanted to be a writer – ideally a writer for children. It is such a great job that even Madonna wanted to do it. So I thought I’d ask some of my writer friends what their secret dreams were when they were growing up. Was it the dream job they have now? Or something quite different? And what happened next? …

Do check out their websites. They may not have become skate stars or dolphin trainers (although at least one did make archaeologist), but they have, each and every one, written some awesome books.

CJ Skuse   Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic

I wanted to be the following: a geologist of shiny rocks (aged 8); a marine biologist dealing specifically with manatees (aged 9); a fashion designer (aged 10); a Goonie or a professional skateboarder (aged 10/11); Bill and Ted’s female time travel companion (aged 11 and a half); a grunge rock star (aged 12/13); a professional basketballer (aged 13); a nanny (for about 20 mins aged 13 and a half); a journalist (aged 14-16); a writer of books for young adults (17-31); and now my life’s ambition is to either write scripts or be Hayley Williams of Paramore.

Cathy Cassidy Shine on Daizy Star, The Chocolate Box Girls

I spent my teens writing stories and trying to get them published. I went to art college to train as an illustrator, and afterwards got a job with the once-legendary Jackie mag, eventually becoming Fiction Editor. After a few years as an art teacher/ agony aunt/ freelance mag journalist (I’ve always liked doing lots of things!), the dream of writing a book re-surfaced and I finally managed to do it… very, very glad I did!

Meg Rosoff How I Live Now, There Is No Dog

I always wanted to be a spy.  Maybe being a writer is the next best thing….

Lucy Christopher  Stolen, Flyaway

I wanted to be a dolphin trainer!! I desperately wanted to be one of the peeps who worked in Seaworld. Alas, I was not very good at science. Or swimming.

Pat Walsh  The Crowfield Curse, The Crowfield Demon

I always wanted to be an archaeologist. The plan was, at age nine, to go hunting for dinosaurs, but by the age of twelve the dinos had lost out to Vikings. I spent school holidays and weekends on digs and took an archaeology degree. I’ve worked as an archaeologist ever since. Still love it and get ridiculously excited by it even now.

Keris Stainton  Della Says OMG!, Jessie Hearts NYC

I wanted to be a singer. I didn’t let the fact that I was horribly shy and couldn’t really sing interfere with my ambitions. Anyway, it was the eighties and there were LOADS of really popular singers who could barely hold a tune. When Stock Aitken Waterman came along, serious music people were horrified at the lack of talent on display whereas I thought “I COULD TOTALLY DO THAT!” Pepsi & Shirlie! The Reynolds Girls! Sinitta! Even, controversially, Kylie! (I love Kylie, but singing isn’t really her strongpoint). And then along came Sonia. Cheeky, chirpy, chubby-cheeked Scouser was totally my “act” – albeit an act that had been entirely confined to my bedroom – and I gave up on the whole idea. I actually saw Pete Waterman on TV last night and had a ‘he could have been my mentor’ moment. I think what we’ve learned here is that I’ve always had a rather tenuous grip on reality…

Luisa Plaja   Extreme Kissing, Kiss Date Love Hate

When I was very little, I lived in Italy with my family and in the winter we’d travel to the Alps, where glorious outdoor skating rinks were plentiful. I was fearless on the ice – when you’ve only just learned the art of toddling without falling flat on your face, I suppose keeping your balance on a sheet of frozen water isn’t a million times more difficult. So I taught myself to skate quite naturally, and nothing could stop me whizzing around for hours. One of the tunes that would blare a lot while I zoomed was Dancing Queen by Abba, and although I was a good thirteen years younger than ‘only seventeen’ and I didn’t exactly understand all the words, there were moments when I felt like I was the girl in the song. And in those moments, I secretly longed to be an ice-dancer.

We moved away and I grew up. Ice became something my parents scraped off the car on frosty mornings. Occasionally, I’d persuade my mother to take me to Richmond, where our nearest skating rink was. (It’s now the site of luxury homes. Sigh.) Unfortunately, I struggled to skate when I tried it so rarely, and now I can’t skate at all. I can wobble a lot, and after a few minutes I can complete a few circuits without holding on to the side. I can glide forwards and I can (just about ) stop without using the crash barrier. But I’m certainly never going to skate in the Olympics. Ah, well. I enjoyed the dream, and lately I’ve read some great books about skaters.

The other thing I always secretly wanted to be was a writer…

Di Toft  The Wolven Series

I wanted to be Dr Who’s assistant until I realised it was ‘not a real job’ apparently, then I switched to being a vet. Unfortuantely, didn’t have the brains to take it any further than a dream.

Tamsyn Murray  My So-Called Afterlife, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife

I wanted to be Indiana Jones and so studied Archaeology at uni 🙂 But secretly, I wanted to be a singer (I still do) and took singing lessons a few years ago. I’d really love to be on stage in the West End someday!

Judi Curtin  Alice Next Door, Friends Forever

When I was a child, I had many and varied career dreams. One that particularly stands out is that when I was nine or ten, I dreamed of being a poet. I wrote heaps of poems, then illustrated them and bound them into little books. Everyone I showed them to thought they were amazing, and that I was a particularly gifted poet. (It may not be relevant, but I feel I should mention that I only showed them to my mum, my dad, my auntie Betty, and my little brother who couldn’t actually read, but liked looking at the pictures.) Anyway, time moved on, and even though I wrote the occasional poem, I’m not sure that I ever earned the title ‘poet’.

Luckily I had other dreams. I dreamed of being a primary school teacher, and of being a novelist. I am very happy to report that those two dreams came true!

Sita Brahmachari   Artichoke Hearts  Jasmine Skies

I wanted to be a midwife until my Dad ( a doctor) took me to the local hospital to attend a birth ( aged 14) Helpfully I fainted! After my three children I still have an idea that it could be another career! After the fainting incident I decided that something in community work and theatre ( not the medical kind) would be up my street. At Uni I got into touring community theatre plays and in fact until recently worked in theatre creating education projects and writing plays with a for young people.

Sarah Webb  Amy Green: Boy Trouble

When I was about 10 I wanted more than anything else in the world to be a ballerina. I loved ballet with a passion and I took classes every week. I read ballet books, listened to ballet music and danced all around the house. Sadly, this dream never came true as I wasn’t actually all that good at ballet, even though I loved it! But I’m still a huge ballet fan and go to the ballet whenever I can. I’m off to see Cinderella in the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin in a few weeks and I can’t wait. And the great thing about being a writer is that I can write about my dream jobs. The next Amy Green book is all about – you guessed it – ballet!

Rachel Ward   The Numbers Trilogy

I wanted to be a farmer or an estate agent. How wild was I?? Ended up in local government which is a very family-friendly place to work. Writing is an odd hobby that’s almost turned into a job now.

Janet Foxley   Muncle Trogg, Muncle Trogg and the Flying Donkey

I wanted to be a teacher from the day I started school. But by the time I was old enough, schools had changed and I’d never have been able to keep order!

Plus Susie Day and Joanna Nadin blog rather wonderfully about their dreams here and here.

More party

I’ve already put these pictures up on Facebook, but in case you didn’t see them there, here they are again:

There is nothing, simply nothing, quite as nice as holding a party at your very supportive local bookshop. I had a great time and I hope everyone who came did, too.

Meanwhile, the blog tour continues. I’m at Books For Company today, reading another extract from The Look.


Today is launch party day. Always a fun time. And it just happens to coincide with the judging of the latest Times/Chicken House Fiction competition. Good luck to everyone on the shortlist! And the judges too. It must be a tough day for them. I hope food is involved. As indeed it will be at my party …

On this day in 2009, Barry Cunningham called me to tell me I was the lucky winner. I keep on having to count on my fingers that it was only three years ago. So much has happened since then! Four books, for a start.

Talking of which, the latest stops on the blog tour for The Look are at Bookaholics yesterday (writing about illness), Writing From The Tub today (the timeline of writing the book), Books for Company tomorrow (video!) and the Overflowing Library on Saturday (Bookcase Showcase). They keep on coming! Hope you like them.


Latest on the tour …

Time flies! March has really only just got going, and already young daffodils are bravely dealing with sunshine and snowfalls, and my blog tour – which seemed so far away for so long – is half way through.

So far, I’ve done an interview on video, written about sisters and modelling, and shared an exclusive extract from The Look. Thank you SO MUCH to all the bloggers who’ve hosted me so beautifully.

Today, you’re in for a treat. The lovely Clover is hosting my post about the playlist for The Look at Fluttering Butterflies. She’s added the links to the YouTube videos, so you can see what I’m talking about, and lots of pictures too. So if you want to know more about the Japanese baby who got 30 million YouTube hits playing the Beatles, or Xena Warrior Princess, or Janelle Monae, now’s your chance.

Tomorrow, I’ll be stopping off at Wondrous Reads, talking about the story of the cover.