The secret other me

Five years ago, almost to the day, my first book – Threads – appeared on the shelves of its very first bookshop and I was THE MOST EXCITED WRITER IN THE WORLD.

Threads was about three teenage girls in London who befriend an immigrant girl from Uganda, who turns out to be a genius fashion designer. Together, they help her achieve her dreams, and their own. I put a lot of fashion knowledge into the book, because it’s always been a fascination of mine and I wanted to write for girls (and boys) who were interested in the details of fashion design as an art form, not just shopping and labels.

That turned into a series of 3, and I followed it with a story about a girl who becomes a model, so for a long time I was ‘the person who writes YA about fashion’. Then I wrote a story about a girl band breaking up on a TV talent show, so I suppose I was ‘the person who writes YA about fashion and music’. But always, there was a sneaky part of me waiting to get out.

The Threads me loves Clueless and Audrey Hepburn movies, but the secret me also loves Die Hard and the Bourne series. The Threads me wanted to work for Vivienne Westwood or Jean-Paul Gaultier when I grew up, but the secret me would love to have been a code-breaker at Bletchley Park, and would really quite like to try her hand at advanced driving and abseiling. The Threads me grew up collecting costume dolls from around the world, but the secret me, meanwhile, was watching the soldiers around me training on the army bases where I lived, and heading off on tours of duty, and thinking ‘I could do that, if I had to’. And eventually, the secret me decided it was time to tell her story.

SB-CastleAnd so my new book, The Castle, is a story about secrets, and a story about the secret me. It’s an adventure story, and yes, it does have a reference in it to Audrey Hepburn, because I suppose I couldn’t help it, but at its heart is has a girl who doesn’t care about clothes, loves maths and codes, and has a talent for getting herself into danger.

I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to write it, because all girls have different sides to their personalities and it’s good to celebrate all the different people we can be. So now I’m ‘the person who writes about fashion and music and danger and codes and adventure’. And that is the real me.



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