I have an overwhelming preference for pens over pencils, I guess because I like to think that writing in permanent ink will make my ideas more enduring! However, I’m an academic by trade, and when I mark assignments by hand I always use pencil so I can rephrase advice if I find a better way to express something. We’ve just moved to electronic marking, though, so the decision of which implement to use will no longer be mine to make.
Coincidentally, the main character in my new children’s book, who is called Ruby McCracken, is horrified to discover that there are no inkwells for her quill pen when she arrives at her new school in the Ordinary World. She has to learn to adapt to this crazy new world, as I guess I do, too…
When buying new notebooks, I look for a combination of size (I prefer A5 or thereabouts), aesthetics, and price. I bought a couple of my favourite notebooks at the Alhambra in Granada; I love the Moorish design. However, I rarely use them because I want them to last—which I know doesn’t make much sense! I’m sure that’s indicative of some deep psychological issue (I’m like that with clothes, too: I have some nice ones, but never wear them because I don’t want them to wear out, so in the meantime they fall apart or no longer fit, and I never get to wear them. Go figure.)
I like a gel pen that glides easily, but most I’ve found don’t fit the bill. My best pens have tended to be those I’ve picked up inadvertently—I swear I don’t intend to steal them, but if someone lends me a pen, I sometimes walk off with it unintentionally! It all seems to balance out, though, because I am always leaving pens places. I walk around the house, the office, and the world carrying a pen, and it never seems to complete the journey with me. I suppose it’s like one big karmic lending library of pens, if that makes sense. And when I need a pen, of course I don’t have one, so I end up digging around in the back of the sofa. I do fantasize about having the perfect stationery, and the perfect pen, but somehow it almost never works out that way.
Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic, which won the Kelpies Prize, was published by Floris Books in October 2017, and is my first published children’s book. I wrote it with a lot of hands-on help from my own kids, who are both into writing, especially the older one, who when he was about 12, would write between 2000 and 5000 words every day of his own fiction—now that he’s older and has more homework (and a smartphone, which is the bane of civilisation) he writes less, but he still writes nearly every day. I wish I were that disciplined!
The younger one is full of great ideas for plotting, and is a very astute critic. I’m extremely lucky to benefit from their assistance. (We split any proceeds three ways.) I’ve just published my seventh academic book, The Cinema of Things, with Bloomsbury, but having creative projects on the go preserves my sanity, such as it is. I’ve written two other children’s books (also with help from the kids) and two novels for adults, as yet unpublished. I also write a bit of poetry, and last year one of my poems was Highly Commended for the Bridport Prize.
Facebook page: @ElizabethEzrabooks