Throwback Thursday – Threads

Drat – I missed it. I was too busy writing yesterday to finish this post so this is Throwback Thursday … on Friday.

I wanted to do a little celebration of Threads. It’s now 10 years exactly since I was in my local library in South London, surviving the Crash, inventing Nonie’s wardrobe and discovering Jenny’s diva nature, Edie’s intrinsic goodness and Crow’s fabulously vivid imagination. Since then the book has been published in over 20 countries (I think, I’ve lost count) and last week I received 3 new copies from China. From CHINA! Where the rights have just been re-optioned.

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I adore this cover. I like the sense of the (slightly Chinese, not-very-Ugandan) girl flying through London on the power of her dreams. I like the almost-right houses and the sense of a big London monument in the background. (There are many in the book.) And the fact that I’m not entirely sure which of the elements is my name. And that I can’t read a single word, except the subtitle of the title itself. Girls, you have really travelled, and I’m so proud of you.

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Then on to the V&A. It was Members Week this week, and reader, I spent more than I should in the shop. I saw the Future Starts Here exhibition, which you can see more of on my Instagram account. I’m working on various book ideas at the moment and it really fed into one of them. But best of all was the free members’ tote bag! Designed by Giles Deacon, it really reminded me of something.

Oh, that would be the original hardback cover of Threads which Giles kindly did for us. It’s a bit hard to make out the woman’s wonderful expression on the main cover, so here’s the closeup from the back cover too. I thought they looked good together. (And I’m quite pleased my version isn’t bald with a pink nose. Not quite sure what Giles was going for with that, but I like the dress.)

Threads is going out of print soon, so it’s good to have these memories. If you want copies you can still get them from me, for a while, while they last. Then who knows what the world will hold for Nonie and her friends? More, I hope, but I haven’t decided what and how yet.

Meanwhile, the future starts here …

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Top 10 writers’ sheds

A friend was talking about writers’ sheds recently, and it reminded me of a post I did here a while ago. Here’s another version of it, with more pictures. And here’s to the shed …

If a writer is very lucky, she has that special thing Virginia Woolf famously called ‘A room of one’s own’ – a private, dedicated space to write. Virginia had a hut in the garden, although she couldn’t always use it. Roald Dahl’s shed is famous and inspirational (but not my favourite). Here are my top 10 writing spaces – but I know that all a writer really needs is a tabletop, something to write on and with, and her own imagination.

(This, by the way, is mine.)

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10. JK Rowling’s cafe in Edinburgh

9. TS Eliot – Margate

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8. George Bernard Shaw

“London” Shaw’s Corner. Photo by Eric Meyer

The best thing about the hut at the bottom of George Bernard Shaw’s garden is the name. He called it ‘London’ so that his staff could legitimately say he’d ‘gone to London’ when he was hiding here, writing.

7. Lawrence of Arabia

Clouds Hill Cottage. Image by Karyn Cuglietta

There is, I’ve witnessed it, lots of controversy about where TE Lawrence wrote, but here is one of the places. The most amazing thing about his writing life that I know (never mind his political life in the desert) is that he wrote the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Twice. The first manuscript he lost in a railway waiting room. So he did it all again …

6. Dylan Thomas

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I could sit here and write this minute.

5. Phillip Pullman

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4. Virginia Woolf

“She was always being distracted – by Leonard sorting the apples over her head in the loft, or the church bells at the bottom of the garden, or the noise of the children in the school next door, or the dog sitting next to her and scratching itself and leaving paw marks on her manuscript pages. In winter it was often so bitterly cold and damp that she couldn’t hold her pen and had to retreat indoors.” – from The Guardian

3. Mark Twain

“It is the loveliest study you ever saw…octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window…perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lighting flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it.” – Mark Twain, in a letter to William Dean Howells, 1874

2. Roald Dahl

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  1. Vita Sackville-West

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The tower room at Sissinghurst. Now, isn’t that just the most perfect place to write?