I have two favourite pens. Please don’t make me choose between them. I can’t, any more than I could choose a favourite child. Because both the pens were given to me by (two of) my children. Funnily enough they’re quite similar – the pens, not the children. Although, come to think of it, there is a strong resemblance between the two pen-gifting sons as well. But back to the pens. They’re both Parker pens, silver and classically classy. Which means, of course, there is another similarity between those sons – their taste in pens, which fortunately, matches mine. Perhaps they’ve both inherited the ‘silver pen gene’ from me?
When I buy stationery it’s all about the colour. I can’t resist packs of day-glo highlighters, or stacks of multi coloured post-it notes, or bunches of lurid gel pens. So I’m weak, as well as shallow. And I’ve definitely passed on my weakness for gaudy stationery to my daughter. She has exams coming up and she couldn’t possibly start her revision without buying two shiny new ring-binder files (one shocking pink, one luscious purple) and packs and packs of multi-coloured flash cards.
I use stationery as visual aids when it comes to plotting my books. I use different coloured post-it notes, and different coloured inks for different characters and plot lines. I carry this through to the computer too – using different colour fonts when I’m outlining the structure of subplots and story drivers.
I couldn’t survive as a writer if I couldn’t use post-it notes. In fact, I would never have started writing at all if it hadn’t been for a humble post-it note. Like many writers facing the hugely daunting task of writing their first book, I spent weeks procrastinating. Sharpening pencils, washing the floors, doing ‘one more piece of research’ – and the dog had, literally, never been for more walks. Finally I wrote myself a post-it note and stuck it onto my computer. It read: Stop mucking about and write the book. It worked. Never underestimate the power of post-it notes.
Fortunately, I have only ever been given a notebook by one of my children. So I am free to adore it above all others. It is a Thing of Absolute Beauty. My eldest son gave it to me last Christmas. It’s from Liberty and I completely and utterly adore it. Not as much as I completely and utterly adore said son, of course. To be fair to the notebook, it’s so beautiful I really would love it to pieces even if the dog had given it to me. The cover, I assume, is based on a Liberty print, the end papers are blue, with Liberty’s name embossed in gold, and the paper is a joy to write on . . . the words simply flow onto the page. Even the physical act of writing in the book is a delight.
I’ve been writing for seven years. Before that I worked for CBBC making shows like ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’, and putting books on screen e.g. in ‘Jackanory’ and ‘Jackanory Junior’. Then CBBC moved to Manchester and, since I had four children happily settled in Oxfordshire, sadly CBBC and I parted company. Seven years later and I have nine books in print. DO YOU SPEAK CHOCOLATE? was published in 2017 by Piccadilly Press. It is about a friendship between two Year 7 girls, one a Syrian refugee, who are determined to become friends even though they don’t speak the same language. It’s about diversity and inclusion and about celebrating our similarities rather than our differences. It’s been translated into five languages including French, German and Dutch. The Dutch publishers sent me some chocolates personalised with the book cover. Clearly, the Dutch really do speak chocolate!
I also write the NIXIE THE BAD, BAD FAIRY books – about a mischievous, tomboy fairy who’s better at DIY than she is at magic. She keeps her wand in one of her boots and a spanner in the other. My first series of books featured HARVEY DREW AND THE BIN MEN FROM OUTER SPACE – comedy sci-fi about space trash.