Sunday, 6 April 2014

Rubbing shoulders with Piers

Yes, this is exactly how I write. 
Like all the best writers, I think up my stories whilst lounging in high-heels, occasionally looking up with a wistful face - as if I might be wondering whether to open another box of bon-bons.

In related news, Liane, who is one of my agents, emailed me to ask for a photo to go on the agency website. Just like that - as if I might have dozens of authorly photos lying around. Which of course I hadn't. Because I am not a photogenic young teen, but a normal person who disappears like a magician's assistant whenever anyone takes out a camera. So I had to ask  for some time to organise a photoshoot. (Ugh! Even the word photoshoot sounds awkward when we're talking about a middle-aged mother-of-two.) And she said, "Yes, that’s absolutely fine! Given that you’re going to be next to Piers Morgan you want to look your best."
(I used to be so in awe of literary agents, it never occurred to be how funny they might be.)

And there I am - look - right next to Piers Morgan. Or if you prefer, right over Mary Portas' head. So many celebrities! And me! I've never felt so famous before (even though - deep down - I know I'm still not.) There's a chance that the number of times I've opened this page goes into the hundreds - possibly even thousands by now. My aim is to get it down to no more than half a dozen times a day. Maybe a couple more if I'm feeling particularly useless. I wonder how many times a day Piers and Mary click on themselves...?

This is the page that comes up if you click on my head. Ow! I totally feel it every time someone does that.

But if being up on the Furniss  Lawton website is one of my favourite things ever, the thought of undergoing the dreaded photoshoot was not. Luckily one of the mums at my children's primary school is both a good friend and a top photographer, so we organised a playdate with pizza and ice-cream, lots of dressing up and photo taking. I still managed to look painfully awkward in the earlier photographs, despite all Sally's reassurances and the ahem informal atmosphere of four children running around and twatting each other with light sabres. But it was worth it. I ended up with a handful of pictures I can use for websites - and possibly even the inside of a book cover one day!

And there's the photographer, up there, should you wish to have your own photoshoot. Sally can be relied upon not to laugh at you - even if you're lolling on a bed with your laptop and pulling stupid faces at her.

When I haven't been posing, I've been reading. And I've been going through (yet another) spate of books with plenty of magical happenings and weirdness - which are the kind I love best. Lately, I've read these...

And I enjoyed them all, but then I read this one...

...which has no magic or fantasy elements; no escapism (unless you count the fact that it makes your own life feel glamorous in comparison to the narrator's) and no fairytale ending. And in spite of all this, The Shock of the Fall was by far my favourite, because it made me think...and it made me cry...and I ended up talking about it with two friends (we all thought that the narrator would've managed to lead a reasonably normal life if the incident with his brother hadn't happened. And that led us off on separate musings about the events that had or hadn't happened in our own lives - and how fragile it all is.) I'm not at all surprised at the way this book's been winning prizes all over the place.

What else? Oh yes, Eleven-year-old is currently learning all about the Industrial Revolution at school. His teacher has been playing the class extremely loud factory machinery noises and setting them tricky maths problems to solve without being distracted - hahaha! So I've been reading this with him...

It's full of excellent descriptions of poverty and children being killed in factory machines...or up chimneys...or down coal mines, I'm sure you get the idea. It's also taught him about mudlarks and tosh boys, friendly societies and protection rackets and really, really terrible food. In the last night's instalment, Lucas - our hero, ate a breakfast of day-old porridge which had been made with cheap oatmeal, warm water and crusts picked up in the street. It was also frozen into a lump because it was winter time in the town of Blastburn. Lucas then drank a cup of tea made with hot water and um - nothing else. Before setting off for his job (it was 5am after all!) working down in the sewers with a delusional psychopath called Gudgeon. God, it's good stuff! Excellent words too. Last night Eleven-year-old had to look up the words - Clinker,  Hugger-mugger and Pokey...

So if you (like he) believe that the above-left is a Pokey (thanks Nintendo!) think again. It's a prison, above-right. Don't say you never learn anything useful on this blog!

Hopefully, my next post will be all about our upcoming week at the seaside, but even before that happens there's a lot I'm looking forward to. Next week - yes, next week - is the release date for the third and final book in Laini Taylor's Smoke and Bone trilogy...

I feel as if I've been waiting at least a year for this one!

And tomorrow! Aaargh - actually tomorrow - is season four of Game of Thrones! " Da-duh-der-der. Da-duh-der-der. Da-duh-der-der." *Hums theme tune for next twenty-four hours* Winter is coming and all men must die and fully-grown dragons - hurrah!

What I'd like almost more than anything else is to - one day - write something that people look forward to with as much hyperventilating excitement as I'm looking forward to both of these right now...

(Serious author is serious.)


  1. Sorry for my lateness in visiting, Helen, I have been having SERIOUS internet issues - like not having any AARGH how can one survive! The girls are going nuts specially as they have work to complete and YouTube clips to watch. Logging on in hotspots whenever I can at the moment.

    The photo looks so cool, lounging on the bed in heels, love it! I managed to see you on the agents website before I lost connections, I'm sure I would be checking it out every five minutes too (though maybe not at the moment!). Some wonderful books on your list will be adding a couple of these to my list too.

    Enjoy the holidays, catch you soon xx

  2. You can visit any time, you know that!
    We're off on holiday next week and there'll be no wifi, no mobile signal and no Sky TV. So I'm confidently predicting that we'll all turn on each other like savage, feral animals before the the third day. Terrifying stuff!
    Just spotted Alex J Cavanaugh's post in which he describes you as 'bringing grace and peace to the online world'. Surely that must have cheered you up a bit xx