blog, books i've been reading, gigs, kids' books i've been reading, other writers, project bluebell


Like most Brits, I’ve been filling in my census form this week. (What is your job title? WRITER. Briefly describe what you do (did) in your main job. WRITING.)  I dithered more over the ‘how many hours a week do you work in this employment?’ question. In the last two weeks, I’ve written barely 500 words of Project Bluebell.

I’m not slacking. (Apart from that day Leverage Season 2 arrived and I ate a lot of Revels.) I’m brewing, mulling, cooking a new take on an old idea. And cooking needs fuel.

Some revels
REVELS ARE DEFINITELY FUEL, K? Even if they are rubbish now they don't have peanuts in.

But the brain needs feeding as well, so I’m stuffing myself with artistic nutrition. Last week I saw Frankenstein at the Olivier in London. The run is sold out (though you might yet snare a ticket for an NTLive cinema showing – on Thursday in the UK, varying dates internationally – which will be the exact production I saw: I’m going, can’t wait to see how it translates onscreen). I went for purely intellectual reasons, of course, and in no way to stare at Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch in a series of extremely well-tailored coats – but I left incoherent with adulation, at a familiar story told afresh with the perfect mix of respect and inspiration. Hard not to walk away with a piqued curiosity about what makes us alive, human, worthy, and a perked sense of love for storytelling.

I’ve watched Cabaret again (can anyone get through Tomorrow Belongs To Me without sobbing?); I’ve been part of the giddy crowd led by skiffle kings The Severed Limb in a Drunken Sailor singalong. I feel surrounded by slightly skewiff people, pursuing the thing they love to do whether it makes sense to the rest of the world or not.  Granted, it didn’t work out all that well for Victor Frankenstein – but I think writing a book, you’re more Creature than Mad Scientist: stumbling from rejection to rejection, fumbling for language, striving towards some comforting apprehension of your place in the universe (and very possibly discovering you don’t have one).

So why do we keep doing it? In refuelling mode, everything resonates. I watched Serenity for the millionth time this weekend too, and this might just nail it.



Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. WintergirlsAnother phenomenal, important YA read from the author of Speak, this time tackling anorexia.  Outstanding stuff, beautifully written – but I urge you, especially if you’re a teen reader or have any ED history:  Take care of yourself while you read this book. Be kind to yourself. Talk about it afterwards.

Not a whole stack of tangible wordage from me, then – but oh my golly, it’s been an exciting week. I’m thrilled to say that Authors For Japan raised just shy of £11,000 for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal, and thanks to her generosity I will now have the privilege of mentoring aspiring children’s writer Michelle Newell for the next 6 months. (Do read AL Kennedy’s brilliant piece on the exact sort of handholding I’m hoping to provide.) Thank you so much to everyone who made a bid! And if you missed out, it’s not too late: do check out Kidlit for Japan and Genre for Japan, which are still open with many amazing items on offer.

Failing to quell my inexplicable desire to eat gyoza for every meal; hanging with marvellous old mates who know how to put fish to sleep and how to wake them up again and much more besides (it’s all in the clove oil, apparently); deciding that all things considered, I am not meant to have a fringe.

7 thoughts on “Fuel”

  1. Nothing wrong with the all-gyoza diet. They contain (bits of) vegetables, don’t they? That makes them healthy!

    Hmm, look at that, it’s lunchtime and I now feel an inexplicable pull towards Chinatown…

  2. Yes I was quite proud to put ‘writer’ down as my job on the census!! Although I did also tick the ‘student’ box so the people in 100 years might think I was making it up. Come to think of it I think that too sometimes.

    Frankenstein is fab, I so wish I’d had a chance to see it! Listening to all the podcast reviews is as close as I got. And funnily enough as soon as I heard Sherlock would be in it I thought ‘ah, Susie’ll be hopping along to that then, lol.’ Did you see him as the creature or as Victor or both? Reviews were quite confusing about all the swapping roles thing.

    And… gyoza?

  3. My census answers make no sense at all. I apparently live in 2 rooms in an otherwise empty gigantic house, with no landlord, writing children’s books. I wouldn’t believe me either.

    I suspect they’ll bring it out on dvd, since they’ve filmed it. I saw Cumberbum as Victor (both times – the cinema version was actually the exact performance I’d seen live, so utterly fascinating to see it again but with close-ups, different angles etc).

    Gyoza! What is there to question about gyoza?

  4. Had never heard of it and was too lazy to google! Are you making your own then? Pictures needed! How about Blake 7 gyoza?

    On paper you do appear to be a romantic version of a children’s author – imagine the biogs when you’re an elderly author with 100+ books in your profile. “…and I looked after wild foreign children in a giant house but I only had a tiny apartment which was filled with books and guess where it was, children… Oxford! Wooooooooo.”

    And re your twitter re Masterchef (see how lazy I am?!) I saw that too and thought of you when I watched the ‘fine dining’ bit with rabbit legs.

  5. Have yet to locate ingredients. Till then I will eat Wagamama’s instead. 🙂

    Yes! I sound completely fictional and no longer believe in me at all. I’m going to wake up in the shower and find out I’m actually Bobby Ewing.

    Was hanging out with some New College people (staff, not students) this very eve and we agreed it looked v nobby and probably off-putting to all the ‘not at posh school’ people they’re working really hard to encourage to apply. Sigh.

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