I’m the very grateful owner of a Mont Blanc fountain pen, bought by my husband for my 30th birthday. It cost a small fortune and every time I write with it I feel incredibly blessed. I’m also fiercely protective, since the Mont Blanc adapts to its owner’s hand and if anyone else writes with it then the nip is compromised. Or so I was told, at least it’s a good excuse not to let anyone else use my precious pen!
I’m a notebook magpie. My choice is based on looks, always looks. I have far, far too many and it took me years before I plucked up the courage to start writing in my precious notebooks. And now I always encourage others to do the same, notebooks become even more precious when they’re used, like books once they’ve been read.
My favourite stationery city is Venice. Fortunately for me, my father lives there so I’ve the perfect excuse to visit. I went for the Carnival last year and it inspired my new book. I spent (almost) my entire budget on stationery – I barely ate! Now I have a few choice pieces on my desk, the most precious of which is a handmade letter holder. Every time I look at it I feel inspired. I always begin my novels in my notebooks – a new one each time – and continue to use them for new scenes and character notes etc throughout the writing process, even though I write the bulk on the computer. That’s merely for time saving purposes though – if I didn’t have two small children, I’d probably do everything in pen and ink!
My newest book, The Lost Art of Letter Writing, is my homage to all things stationery. It was born of a long-cherish dream to own a stationery shop (one day!) and I thought, since I couldn’t yet do that I’d write about it instead – then at least it would live in my imagination. Happily, it also gave me the perfect excuse to do plenty of research in stationary shops!
Since all my novels are a little magical, my stationery shop contains an enchanted writing desk upon which the owner sits to write letters to strangers that will change their lives. I set the novel in a fictional stationery shop in Cambridge (where I live) and in a real stationery shop in Amsterdam (where my family are from) called De Posthumuswinkel. It’s gorgeous. Next to Venice, Amsterdam is my favourite city for stationery shops.
You can find out more about me and my writing here: website: www.mennavanpraag.com & menna.vanpraag (Instagram – plenty of pictures of stationery there) & @MennavanPraag (twitter) & mennavanpraag.mvp (Facebook)