I’ve always used a Parker fountain pen, since I was a child, and I absolutely love them. When I sold my first book, I decided to buy a really posh fountain pen but nothing I tried felt as right as a Parker, so I have a matte black Parker Sonnet. I am very attached to it, and hate to be without it. I use Pilot pens for planning, making editing notes, etc., but for anything else it’s the Parker all the way. I wrote several first drafts in it, though I now go straight to the laptop.
I have different notebook buying criteria for different jobs. For research, I like a big A4 book in sections, so I can keep track of what I’ve got. For novel and story planning, I prefer A5, hard or soft back but not spiral bound. It has to have good-quality paper to take a fountain pen. I don’t mind about things like line width but I would never buy a book whose lines were very obvious. I once had an American notebook with sections in different colours – it was wonderful in some ways, but every colour had a slightly different quality/absorbency of paper, which meant the ink didn’t look uniform, and I am sorry to say that that disturbed me!
I have never had that worry about using a notebook because it’s ‘too good’ — but having said that, I do love a plain Muji soft-bound exercise book. For things like Arvon courses I find them perfect.
I love all kinds of stationery, and any excuse to buy more. I used to be a teacher, and the dread of going back in September was always mitigated by the need to go and buy new stationery! I like to edit on hard copy, always having the MS spiral bound and making a lot of notes on the LH pages. I’ll use different coloured pens, with highlighters and postits too. Basically, any excuse to visit a stationery shop! I once bought my granny a notebook for her birthday (I was nine) because I thought it was the nicest thing anyone could desire, and she said she didn’t write. (I ended up with the notebook!)
I write mostly YA, though my current work in progress is adult. My most recent book is the Irish Book Award-shortlisted Star By Star, a teen historical novel about a young woman in 1918 who’s determined to fulfil her dead suffragette mother’s legacy. It’s my seventh novel, and the one I feel I was always waiting to write. I love that period of history. Also this year, I published Street Song, about a young talent show winner who hits rock bottom and rediscovers himself through rediscovering music. It’s been a busy year, with two very different books. I live in rural Northern Ireland and spend a lot of time walking in the forest, buying stationery, singing and writing.
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