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Interview with Ali Sparkes

AliS Stationery 2

When it comes to high-speed book signing for 200 hyped up Year 6s, nothing beats my trusty Pentel Energel. It’s very fast and smooth and doesn’t smudge UNLESS you try to use it on any kind of shiny paper. Then it’s flippin’ useless because it smears like 1960s mascara in a sauna. For standard title page paper though, it’s the best. I now order the refills in bulk and recently discovered there are COLOURED ones too, so I got a whole set and my joy was boundless. I need green or purple for my new book, Thunderstruck, because the designers have seen fit to leave me no clear white space to sign on. The little zig-zaggy lightning strikes all over the opening pages (white on grey) look fab but it’s hard to see my usual black ink against it. Yes, dear reader, these are the things which occupy my mind in the wee small hours…

As for notebooks… they’re quite hard to get but I do like a nice A4 narrow feint. I always liked the thin lines when I was at college and this has stuck with me. That said, I’ve not been able to find any for ages, so my current favourite is standard feint. I’m not keen on spiral bound, as they dig into your wrists and slow your writing down and when I’m attempting to keep up with someone with my rusty 100wpm shorthand, I can do without that. I’m loving Fabriano A4 pads right now. Simple coloured cardboard covers and stapled-in pages which don’t rip away and fall apart when you give them a hard stare. Quite pricey in shops but some good deals on line. Lime green, orange or purple, too – my favourite colours!

AliS stationery1

I have to have those little stick-in tabs for when I’m line editing a paper manuscript. By the time I’m done my manuscript looks a little like a groovy 1970s handbag with a multi-coloured fringe. And plenty of A4 envelopes for sending out signed posters to schools. I have developed definite habits in what I will and won’t use. From time to time kind people will buy me gorgeous hard cover notebooks with beautiful designs and magnetic clips and gilt edged pages… and I find them really hard to use. They seem too good for me to be scribbling in. I feel as if I should only ever be writing poetry in them – in calligraphy. As a result, many of these are stacked up on my shelves, waiting for me to feel worthy.

AliS I Am Not Worthy

Thunderstruck - small

Thunderstruck (Oxford) is the new baby – the one which is difficult to sign in black! Out in March 2017, it’s slightly shorter than my usual offering and pitched more squarely at juniors – although there are teenage characters in it too and I hope plenty of people beyond Year 6 will enjoy it. If you grew up in the 70s you might get a kick out of a couple of cheerful teenage ghosts who met their end by lightning strike in the long hot summer of 1976. When modern day Theo and Alisha get struck on the same common, they are revived – and afterwards they have the power to see the ghosts of Dougie and Lizzie, who’ve been haunting the common in a groovy kind of way for more than forty years. The four of them form Strike Club. You can only join if you’ve been struck by lightning.


Find out more about Ali Sparks and her books on her website:  or follow her on Twitter: @SparkesAli

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One thought on “Interview with Ali Sparkes

  1. It’s amazing how that hot summer in 1976 lives with us still. I lived in Sussex at the time. The ground was pure clay and that summer the ground dried up so much that our house was nearly torn in two. I had a crack in my bedroom wall and could see when someone put the bathroom light on next door. Jo


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