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Interview with Lucy van Smit

lucy van smit

My perfect pen is one that my 16-year-old son hasn’t chewed, or lost the lid. I doodle a lot and usually keep about eight gel pens in my bag. As an artist, the glide of nib on paper is important to me. I hate nibs dried up. I also draw with an ink dropper because it’s fast and creates a vibrant, active line on paper. That boldness creeps in my writing too.

Inspired by your blog, I’m writing longhand in burnt orange gel pen and a 0.7 nib as it matches my new leather notebook.  I hid both, cunningly, so son of mine can’t wreck them.

My taste in notebooks is eclectic, both in size and quality. At art school in Oxford, I pressed paper and  made my own notebooks. I often stayed in Florence with a friend who restored paintings at the Pitti Palace and I adore gold-edged notebooks.

lucy stationery pic

But it’s a fantasy to pretend to be the kind of writer who emotes in beautiful books with an elegant script. A chaotic nasty mess, where I can’t find either pen or my notebook, and end up scribbling in lipstick on the nearest gas bill is closer to the truth.

And when I do write long hand, I spend even longer trying to decipher my own handwriting. It makes me weep with frustration. One of my dearest friends asked me how I could paint beautiful pictures when my handwriting is such an ugly scrawl.

I intended to restock on cheap pens today, but couldn’t bear ASDA and crossed the road in Clapham to Partridge’s art shop, and immediately felt at home amongst all the paint and inks and brought more gel pens in purples and greens, and a beautiful Castelli leather notebook with gold leaf and narrow lines.  As a dyslexic with quite possibly the worst handwriting of anyone I know, it’s sacrilege I am let lose on beautiful paper, and narrow lines force me to write more rhythmic and legible. Probably.

post its

Post-its and index cards are my go to stationary. In winter, I use my study more than the kitchen and garden. I write timelines on the wall and cover it with post-its, much to my husband’s horror. We have a 25 year rule that he’s not allowed home without a prior phone call, then I run round collecting up notes and piles of books shrieking, Don’t Panic!

During edits, I scribble on anything near to hand, envelopes, council letters, etc. I buy loads of index cards and again my son steals them for his school work. We were getting through three to four hundred index cards a week during GCSE. I was a telly producer and believe in the religion of the cards to work out scenes and structure.  When guests stay in my study, I write timelines on cream lining wallpaper; it’s great for laying out picture books and sorting out structural problems.

Currently, I’m back editing THE HURTING with Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyshon. I feel fantastically lucky to have them as my editors. Chicken House Books are publishing THE HURTING in July 2018.  My MA manuscript won the Bath Children’s Novel Award and their wonderful judge, Sallyanne Sweeney, is now my agent.

THE HURTING is a dark obsessive YA love story set in Norway. British songwriter, Ellie Lambe abducts a baby with her boyfriend, but he abandons the baby on Ulv Fjell, Wolf Mountain, and Ellie turns from prey to predator to save the baby.

Twitter:  @Lucyvansmit

Facebook: Lucy van Smit




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