lundi 22 mai 2017

Sundays in Vienna

A whirlwind of a weekend... I think I have had the total of one night's sleep in the past four days, pretty much.  Entirely worth it.

I went to Vienna, where I hung out with wonderful family (including Mochi the dog), drank (a lot of) beer and ran with 30,000 women through the park.  A favourite discovery was that there is a gemstone vending machine outside the toilets at Vienna airport.  True story.  All your crystal-powered emergency airline needs met - you're welcome.

In other news, I read THE HATE U GIVE and I'm going to join the chorus of people saying that it's worthy of all the hype and more; a truly important book and you must read it.  It's (rightly) a tough read, but I wasn't expecting some of the well-placed humour and quite how much I would care about the characters (especially Big Mav, who - although I'm sure he would be appalled at the idea - has made it straight to the top of my Dream Fictional Husbands List), compounded by Lisa's advice on how to assess whether the good outweighs the bad in any relationship, which feels like a timely lesson for me.  Anyway, you don't need my words on the matter.  At all.  Just read it.

This post is also brought to you by: Roxy Music (pretty much new to me, ridiculously); kitchen discos (always) and pyjama parties; my new silver boots; Soap and Glory lipsticks; watching the video for Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie and getting the song stuck in your head literally forever; my new rose quartz necklace, which was the nicest present ever; rose-tinted octagonal sunglasses.

jeudi 18 mai 2017

Meet me in the bathroom...

You may have seen Vulture's oral history of The Strokes.  I for one am currently a bit obsessed with it.  I have many Thoughts and Feelings on the matter.  It's a fascinating all-tea-all-shade read, even if you were not into The Strokes.

I *was* into The Strokes.  Of course I was.  It was summer 2001.  I had just turned 20.  I was going out with a sweet boy called Mat who I'd had a crush on for ages; he had a mod haircut and a red military jacket. We would drink cheap fizzy wine and stay up late at night in his flat, spending hours watching a weird new show called Big Brother on his little black-and-white TV.  I had a short bowl cut and wanted to be Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  I was writing: odd snippety sad little stories about a girl called Holly Cherry.  They were supposed to be modern magic realism.  They were pretty terrible.

The Strokes were very exciting to me.  I can't remember which song I heard first - it would have been Last Nite or Hard to Explain, but I have no idea which one it was.  We all spent a lot of time talking about them, and were literally counting down the days until the full album hit.

We saw them at Reading Festival that year, when they had to be moved onto a bigger stage because they had suddenly out of nowhere exploded into the biggest band in the world (as far as we were concerned, at least).  They were so fucking cool.  So New Yorky, which obviously always appeals to me.  So louche.  So SEXY, in the way that popstars should be.  Julian was definitely at the top of the dreamboy list for a while back then; he's probably still on it somewhere.  I mean, LOOK AT HIM.

That was also the year I saw PJ Harvey, wearing a PVC bra and matching skirt, playing my favourite songs from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.  I don't care if it makes me basic; that's my favourite PJ album.  It still sounds like summer to me.  It was perfect.

I think that was the last time I ever went to Reading Festival.  When it was over, I broke up with Mat (in a young and ill-equipped way that I remain mildly ashamed about) and went to Hong Kong.  I worked at MTV and wore Hysteric Glamour and Superlovers T-shirts.  I spent hours walking around and riding the trams, listening to music and scribbling in my notebook.  I disappeared.  After a summer of drugs and bands and going out every night, Hong Kong was a meditative time.  I came back different.

Things didn't change straight away.  I still loved boys who looked like The Strokes (still do, although I've sporadically tried to grow out of it).  I vaguely remember once singing Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs outside a boy's window, some time after that.  We all got quite into Franz Ferdinand instead, briefly.  A couple of years later, I met Gordon Raphael at another boyfriend's gig in Camden, and I totally embarrassed myself by fangirling all over him about Is This It.  He was wearing a cool jacket that had a picture of Debbie Harry sewn onto it, and looked utterly confused.

It took me a while to take my writing seriously enough to actually finish a full-length novel.  I grew my hair.   I grew up.  I still love music but I've probably never loved a brand-new band like I loved The Strokes - not in that same way, anyway - since that summer.

vendredi 12 mai 2017

It's a very good sign.

I have woken up with this song wedged in my head.  This is neither the original, nor remotely cool.  However, on a gloomy Friday, I say you should always go with the 10 Things I Hate About You version.  Always.

Today I am mostly wearing my sparkly Star Wars sweatshirt, visiting the crystal shop later (I have a hankering for black obsidian in my life right now)... and probably watching 10 Things I Hate About You.

Bon weekend.

jeudi 11 mai 2017

Energy Detox

We're in a Scorpio full moon this week.  As one of my favourite websites, The Hoodwitch, has pointed out:

It's Full Moon time again, kiddies, and this week is likely to bring hella chaos, so get ready! 
The Moon will be full at 20 degrees of Scorpio on the 10th at 2:42pm PST. Expect feels to be at heightened levels of intensity leading up to this event. It’s a dangerous time for building up resentments, developing grudges, or obsessing on your ex, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Scorpio is the sign of death and regeneration, healing and destruction; whatever happens with this Moon, it isn’t likely to be chill. You’re going to want to get deep, and that can be complicated if things do go your way, which I’m sad to say they probably won’t.

There's a lot more useful stuff on there; I recommend having a look if you are so inclined.  Whether it's the full moon or what, I'm really feeling this chaos and intensity.  So, today I have written a list of the myriad hippie bullshit ways in which I am going to have a two-week energy detox.  How very Goop of me, right?  This ranges from 'no/minimal drinking', 'daily exercise' and 'more lentils' to 'pay attention to red flags' and 'don't get on someone else's rollercoaster'.

I'm hoping it will help.

One thing that *has* helped lately, is the book 'The Course of Love' by Alain de Botton.  My stepmum sent it to me in the post, as she thought (very rightly) that I would find it helpful. It was only when I started talking to friends about it that I realised how much love there is out there for this book, and how many people have found it genuinely transformative.   Cannot recommend enough.

Finally - while chatting about dating and the universe with a lovely friend today, she gave me the best piece of advice I've heard in a while: If it's right, there's literally nothing you can do to fuck it up; if it's wrong, there's literally nothing you can do to make it work. Wise words worth bearing in mind, comrades!

Now, please excuse me - I'm off to do some chanting, eat some lentils and howl at the moon. Or similar.

samedi 29 avril 2017

And don't f**k it up.

I'm in bed this morning simultaneously writing, watching RuPaul's Drag Race and drinking coffee.  Not even 9am and I've written over 1,000 words before I have to get up and go to Zumba class - not bad.

Drag Race is now into series 9 and obviously I am following it avidly (even though the absence of my bae Santino Rice still looms large in my heart).  In fact, it occurred to me this morning that I have written much of my recent work with RuPaul playing gently in the background.

It only just struck me - is this where the theme of makeover and identity in BECOMING BETTY came from?!

Thanks, Ru (I absolutely adore you).  I would also like to mention that my all-time faves are Pandora Boxx, Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, Adore Delano, Jinkx Monsoon, Bianca Del Rio, Kim Chi, Ivy Winters and Jiggly Caliente.

May we all have Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent.  Don't f**k it up.

vendredi 28 avril 2017

Betty Stuff

I can't believe that BECOMING BETTY has been out for over a week!  Launching a new book is SO nerve-wracking, so I am incredibly grateful that people have been kind about it.  Seriously.

Thank goodness, people really seem to 'get' the book (sometimes I feel like such a little weirdo, out of step with the world, so this is genuinely a wonderful surprise) and to love Lizzie as much as I do.

Here is a little round-up of some nice blogs and stuff about Betty in the last week.

An interview with the fantastic Jim from YA Yeah Yeah

Lovely little review from 100 or less...

A post by me on the My Kinda Book blog

A guest post and review on the wonderful Tea Party Princess

Lovely review by the lovely Rebecca

A guest post on the power of the makeover with wonderful Kirsty

In other news, I did a very fun Sunday YA chat on BECOMING BETTY (thank you to everyone for all the ace questions and book recs).  Last night I went to the launch night of Acoustic Coffee Club (it was great; if you're in Brighton, you should totally go to the next one).  I just finished reading WHO RUNS THE WORLD? by Virginia Bergin and am full of feels about the future global matriarchy (obvs).  Any free time is currently taken up with trying to write my next book and obsessing over season 9 of RuPaul's Drag Race.  Although, this weekend I also intend to paint a wall.  Exciting times, dear reader.  Exciting times.

lundi 24 avril 2017

Dirty Harriet

IMHO, all the greatest bands are based on great friendships. The band is the ultimate gang – or should be, if it’s done right. The best bands look like a gang of mates having a laugh, not like some slick corporation.

I know all the classic pairings are obviously, like, Lennon/McCartney etc, but the best friendship gangs in the history of music are always girl gangs. It’s why as a teenager I loved Kenickie and Shampoo, and even the early Spice Girls back when they looked like they dyed their own hair and bought their stage outfits from Camden Market, and Geri (my fave) always looked a bit like she’d just fallen over at all times.

My new book BECOMING BETTY features a lot of bands (which makes sense, given that the action centres around a Battle of the Bands contest). My favourite of the lot are the all-girl gang, Dirty Harriet. They have been getting a lot of love from readers, which particularly delights me as they are pretty much my dream girl gang.

I thought 'Dirty Harriet' sounded like such a classic riot grrl band name, like the DIY punk bands I loved as a teenager and still do – like Heavens to Betsy, Bratmobile, 7 Year Bitch or Lunachicks. I googled the name to make sure it hadn’t already been done, and was actually shocked (and pretty delighted, for my purposes) that it hadn’t been used before.

I discovered the original riot grrl bands via reading interviews with Kurt Cobain in NME, in which he sang their praises (many of my early musical discoveries came via my love for Kurt Cobain and his love for generously bigging-up his favourite obscure bands). I discovered a whole world of DIY culture, bands and fanzines, and it was genuinely life-changing. The riot grrl DIY ethos made me feel like I could have a go, create my own culture and get involved – the same message I would love to give readers of BECOMING BETTY.

Dirty Harriet are made up of Harry, Jess and Lola. They are friends first and bandmates second. In fact, Harry and Lola are cousins – an important fact as my cousin is my BFF and it adds to the tight-knit gang mentality (see also: Shampoo made up of cousins Jacqui and Carrie; Throwing Muses revolving around stepsisters Kristin and Tanya). Also, when you're a teenage girl who doesn't have that many friends, having a cousin the same age is really useful (just saying).

Dirty Harriet take their band seriously; music is the most important thing in the world to them and they practise diligently. As they say themselves:

‘Basically, we all have no life. But that’s OK because we didn’t exactly have glittering social lives to begin with. We’re all music geeks.’‘…But that’s OK, because it’s always the music geeks who win in the end. Every cool rock star in the canon was once a music geek. That’s the law.’

 However, they also want to have fun and remember that friendship is more important than anything else. They have their own manifesto to prove it, which covers everything from their influences to gig etiquette to anti-fashion ideas.

Most important, Dirty Harriet are about doing things their own way: playing what they want, wearing what they want and not caring about what anybody else thinks. Just like all the best girl gangs in history.

Here are some of their favourites…