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Interview with Moira McPartlin

The first book on writing I read was Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. In the opening chapters of this inspirational book she impresses on her reader the importance (and fun) of finding the right notebook and pen to free your imagination and keep your writing hand moving.

my notebooks and me

This is a lesson I embraced. Since then I have been addicted to collecting notebooks and pens. To be honest I prefer notebooks to pens and pencils, but I’m always excited when I receive any new items of stationary. I have hundreds of pens and pencils. I used to travel with work and picked up freebie pens from the many hotels I visited. This led to my pen holders becoming crammed full. Every now and again I make a vow to clear out my pens. I select a few and run with them until they dry out.

I have many favourites with their own specific uses. When my first novel was published my husband bought me a Cross pen – I keep this exclusively for book signing.

I prefer to use a pencil for editing and at the moment use a Parker propelling pencil – another gift. It is silver and solid with a fine lead and it makes the editing process a joy.

Coloured pens are fun to use and the Mitsubushi Pencil Company produce a range of brilliant colours. These are great writers and perfect for that fast first draft which I write in long hand. The words flow.  My recent favourite pen is a four way coloured Bic I bought while on holiday in France when all my other pens ran dry.

I’m always sad when a favourite pen runs dry but I never keep them – unlike my notebooks.

I have been writing seriously for about twenty years and in that time have accumulated two large packing cases overflowing with filled notebooks. At first I used cheap supermarket A4 books and scribbled all my work and ideas in them, but I soon realised it was impossible to refer back to them so switched to using different notebooks for different purposes: travel journal, research, projects, online courses, poetry, day to day note taking and, most important, work in progress first draft.

notebook 2

Starting a new notebook is an occasion for me. Before I embark on a new project or trip I select and buy the perfect notebook. I once spent a year living in Paris and the first thing I did when I arrived was visit Galeries Lafayettes to buy a set of B5 soft covered Moleskins to record my Paris Journal in.

I like project notebooks for research and courses and, if I can find one, use a poetry themed notebook for poems.

For all other uses I buy a wide selection of sizes and quality. My main source is TK Maxx. They have never failed to excite me with the weird and wonderful selection of good quality books. Notebooks carrying inspirational quotes are the most fun but the store also carry exquisite notebooks – the kind that are too good to use and kept for special occasions.  I normally buy half a dozen at a time because it’s too difficult to choose.

Some of my favourite notebooks were gifts from my husband. He once bought me a London Underground list book which contains sticky notes and tabs. It’s almost done so I hope I can replace it.

my list book with 'French' Bic

I still like to send hand written notes so another obsession of mine is hording note cards. Most of these I buy in museums or art galleries visited and are related to specific exhibitions.  And of course I might also buy a notebook then too.

Front coverI have just finished writing the last book in my Sun Song Trilogy. This future fiction trilogy is set in the year 2089 in an altered world of right wing regimes and harsh environmental policies. I began writing this in 2012 and I’m afraid the fiction is becoming more real each day. The story follows sixteen year old Sorlie Mayben as he tries to find the truth about his heritage and the world he inhabits.  I wrote all initial drafts longhand, filling many notebooks on the way. Two were written as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’ve already selected my notebook for this year’s NaNoWriMo in November. Or maybe I’ll visit TK Maxx just once more before then!

Wants of the Silent, Book Two of Sun Song Trilogy was published by Fledgling Press in 2017. The last in the Trilogy will be published in 2019.


Twitter:                               @moiramcpartlin


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