Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fortune Favours the Brave

The other day a friend of mine reminded me of a blog I wrote back in October 2009.

Inspired by the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Do one thing every day that scares you", I had decided to embark upon a Month of Brave.

Every day for that month I did something that forced me outside of my comfort zone. I took part in a film. I wrote some poetry (if you knew how bad my teenage poetry was you would understand quite how brave that was!). I went on a writing retreat and I explored new areas of London on my lunchbreaks.

And there, at the end of my list of daring deeds, came the immortal words:

"I have also made the momentous decision to self publish my novel Dear Dylan. I did have a traditional publisher for it but they had been messing me about a bit so what the hell – why not go it alone? In my role as self publishing editor for Writers’ Forum magazine I have witnessed so many self publishing success stories it’s been very inspiring. And what better time than a ‘Month of Brave’ to make that decision?"

I had no idea back then that this decision would go on to spark a chain of events that would completely transform my life. 

After choosing to self-publish I was invited to speak at the London Book Fair to an audience of about 500 people. This in turn led to many other speaking engagements, as a result of which I have met some amazing people and made several new friends.

One of the people in the audience at the London Book Fair asked me if I would like to be featured in a book she was working on called Writers in Black and White. So I ended up in a beautiful coffee table book alongside some of my writing heroes. And Anne Mortenson, the photographer who took my picture for the book, has ended up becoming a close personal friend.

In the mean time Dear Dylan started creating a bit of a buzz online.

In another act of brave, I entered it for a national book award, assuming that as it was self-published it would automatically be disqualified.

It ended up winning!

It went to auction and I got a two book deal with Egmont.

Two weeks ago my agent Erzsi Deak sold the French rights, and I'm currently working on the treatment for a screen adaptation.

And all from the decision to do something brave one October day back in 2009.

Why not make this coming March your Month of Brave? Who knows what may come of it?!

To read my Month of Brave blogs in full, please click here.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

In the beginning there was no TV

When I was a child my parents refused to have a TV in the house. They were on some kind of hippy-trip which deemed television to be extremely detrimental to the development of the imagination.

As far as I was concerned back then, NOT having a television was extremely detrimental to the development of my social standing in the playground. But I have to say that now I am eternally grateful to my parents for being television fascists. Not having an electronic box to gawp at night after night meant that I was forced into a world of imagination, and more specifically, a world of books.

And over the years books have provided a never-ending source of enjoyment, inspiration and escape.

During the toughest times of my life - my parents' divorce, my own divorce, loved ones' and my own ill health - books have provided me with answers, hope and support. To me there is something truly magical about opening the covers of a book and being able to immerse myself in another world.

And the best books are like the most memorable lovers or friends - once read never forgotten.

It would be lovely to hear from readers of this blog (once I have some readers of this blog!)what their unforgettable reads have been.

In the mean time, here are some of mine:

  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I remember so wanting to be Laura with her twinkly-eyed, fiddle-playing Pa and the handsome Almanzo - the writing was so vivid it really felt as if I were there with her, out on the wild prairie rather than holed up in my bedroom on a north London estate.
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - I don't think any book has effected me quite so powerfully as the Aslan 'death' scene.
  • The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I got particularly hooked on these books when my mum had to go into hospital for a few weeks when I was ten. Getting immersed in the mysteries proved a welcome distraction from my anxieties about my mum.
  • The Catcher in the Rye by JD Sallinger. The voice of the central character blew me away.
  • Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. A beautiful book that made me rediscover my joy for living following my traumatic divorce.
  • The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I read this book last year and it is my favourite young adult book ever. Ever. The writing is exquisite and the characters are the kind that make you wish you lived in their world.
As a writer I can only hope that my books provide readers with the kind of enjoyment and inspiration that I have been lucky enough to receive over the years...

Saturday, 19 February 2011