A summer of writing – and Winning Like a Girl

I can’t believe it’s July already. This has been the busiest term – starting a new book, with a new publisher, researching mid-nineteenth century London (fabulous and fascinating), teaching like mad (I have the best students, seriously), and fitting in school visits and festivals when I can. Last year I was busy finishing Love Song and felt I didn’t get out enough. So this summer I’ve been making up for it.

Yesterday was the last visit, and the furthest afield (except for Edinburgh), in Sheffield. I gave three talks that summed up everything I’ve been up to recently. First up was a workshop on book illustration to Year 12, talking about the importance of a cover in selling a book, the thinking behind the rejacketing of most of my books this year, and why my favourite book covers often say the least about what’s inside. The artwork the girls at Sheffield High came up with was brilliant. I only wish we’d had longer so they could have finished their book covers. Several of them, I think, could have been better than the original:

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Then it was time to talk to Year 8 about how I became a writer and where my inspiration comes from. They had so many great questions afterwards, and I spotted a few passionate writers in the crowd. I love talking about how books are made, and about the things I love to write about: music and art, girls and friendship. But best of all is knowing that someone in the audience is going to go home and write her own story tonight. I’ve done my words. It’s her turn now.

And then, at last, it was my last Winning Like a Girl talk of the year, to 100+ Year 9 girls, who crowded into the room, listened brilliantly, stood up and participated, knew loads of great stuff about women and history, asked some fabulous, searching questions, and generally gave me lots of  hope for the future of womankind.

You were amazing, Sheffield High. I hope I get to come back one day.

I’m going to miss these visits over the summer. But meanwhile, you can catch me at YALC in London on Saturday 30 July, at the Wigtown Festival in Scotland on 1 October, or in Bath, talking about music with Robert Muchamore on 8 October.

Have a great summer. In these troubled times, make sure you smile and share a little happiness.

Sophia xxx

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Fame, Fashion and Heroes … Let’s Dance

It’s 10.08, and it’s already been a rollercoaster day.

David Bowie’s death was announced. My friends and I have been knocked off-course, like Sandra Bullock in Gravity. He was 69, but he was eternally young. He was still making music, still surprising and inspiring people around the world. I’ve just heard an interview with him where he said he felt eternally 20 (he was 57 at the time), and that’s how he felt to us too. His classic songs were the sound-track of our youth. It hurts. It really hurts.

I wrote about Bowie in Love Song. I had to, as it’s a book about lots of my musical heroes. I’m so glad I included him – more than once. Nina dances to one of his songs, and the musicians reminisce about playing with him. It’s a tiny, fictional connection. My tribute to a star of stars. RIP SpaceMan

Meanwhile, the bound copies of Love Song (with their beautiful yolk yellow covers, and some rather lovely swag) have gone out into the world. It’s always scary for a writer. Like sending your children off to nursery school. What will happen? Will anyone like them? Will they make friends? LoveSongSwag

Well, so far people seem to be falling in love. (So not like nursery school: more like college.) I’m so, so happy! Thank you to everyone who’s fallen for Jamie (and/or Angus, and/or Nina, and/or the other boys), and taken the time to tell me so.

Now back to writing. I have four stories on the go. Today I have Lauren Laverne in the background, on 6 Music, playing Bowie. In his honour, I will dance.