Small Blue Thing is the story of Alex, a 17 year old who finds a beautiful bracelet in the mud by the Thames. She discovers that it allows her to communicate with the gorgeous but ghostly Callum, who she can only see when she’s looking in a mirror. She falls in love, but then realises he is lying to her, and she doesn't know why. Soon Alex has to make a choice, but if she chooses wrong, someone will die.
The book is the first of a trilogy, with Perfectly Reflected and Scattering Like Light also now available.
I've read thousands of books, and every one of them will have had some sort of influence on me, I’m sure. One of my all-time favourites is the Time Traveler’s Wife – I’d love to write something like that. The book that influenced Small Blue Thing, in a round-about way, was Twilight. I read that, as my daughter was reading it, and found it really American. I wanted my daughter to have something which reflected her world, in London, so I wrote her the book.
Trying to keep the details straight of the world I had invented for Callum. He’s a Dirge, and he and loads of others live in St Paul’s Cathedral. They survive by taking happy memories from people. It’s great fun inventing a whole new type of people, but if you don’t give them some rules to live by, you get in a muddle really quickly!
The publisher did that, and they decided to make the bracelet which Alex finds, and photograph it for the cover. I've got it now to take to the school visits which I do. They involved me all the way through, which was brilliant. I've never designed any jewellery before!
Unusual! I wrote the first book just for Ellie, my daughter, as a birthday present (and I wrote all of it on my BlackBerry, but that’s another story…), then was persuaded to look at getting it published. I asked a friend of a friend for some advice, as she was in publishing, and she liked it so much she set up a new company to publish the book and asked me to write the rest of the trilogy. Having written no fiction whatsoever since school which was (cough) years ago, within two years of starting the book it was in the shops!
Always, and the more feedback you get from readers the more you think ‘Oooh, maybe they are right, I should have …’, but you have to let it go. Just learn from it for the next one.
Alex is written to be the sort of girl my daughter might be when she is 17 (I wrote it for her 12th birthday), and Ellie is great fun to live with, so it would have to be Alex. Callum would be far to distracting.
They usually have a working title, and sometimes that sticks, and sometimes it doesn't The two sequels had titles long before they were even written because we needed to promote the whole trilogy. Small Blue Thing was the title I had all along, and it comes from a beautiful song of the same name, by Suzanne Vega.
Read, read and read some more. Write lots too, and ask other people to give you feedback. Try and write for a specific group, not the entire planet, because that makes it easier to find the voice you want to use.
I've just submitted my next book to the publishers, and it’ll be on the shelf in about a year. I can’t say too much now, but it’s another story set in London, but with different characters this time. I’ll be starting my next one tomorrow!
No contest - coffee.
Ooh, tough one. Reading, I think.
Pencil, but also my phone.