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It’s my (double book) birthday so I can be shy if I want to

So said the song. And I can, can’t I? Or do you think I’m not allowed to be shy as a modern author? But there’s no rule that says authors have to be outgoing and unshy. I have two books out today but I’m not having a launch party because I don’t like parties about me and because I’ve not had time to organise one and because launches don’t sell books so there’s only a point in having one if you like parties where you’re the centre of attention. (That’s not a crit of those who do, by the way. I think it’s great to be able to accept people’s love and generosity. But it’s also fine to prefer to do it privately.)

Also, one of the great things about social media is that I can do all the public interaction stuff without actually having people looking at me. You won’t even know if I’m in my pjs as I write this…

Besides, I’ve done my public bit: yesterday at Bromley High School I did a big launch event for Years 7 and 8. (Thanks to Jackie Murrell, the wonderful librarian, for her enthusiasm.) I was very energetic on that big (hot) stage, the pupils asked masses of great questions and the bookshop, Tales on Moon Lane, sold STACKS of books. (Thanks to Corinne Gotch from the shop for her ace support and hectic bookselling.) But that was a whole day (up at 6am, home at 10pm) being extra-public and super-social and now I need a day of the opposite. Most of my weeks are full of being public, so on my book birthday I can be shy if I want to.

So today, the actual birthday of Positively Teenage AND The Teenage Guide to Life Online, I am going nowhere. Actually, that’s not strictly true: I’m going to B&Q to collect a barbecue I ordered. And I might nip into John Lewis while I’m about it or even a shoe shop or two because I need/want/deserve some new shoes or boots. (And my daughter is getting married in November and my outfit will obviously begin with the boots. I’m thinking scarlet suede. That’s not very shy, is it?)

Apart from talking politely to the shop assistants, I plan to talk to no one. I am working all morning and will shop and garden all afternoon. My husband is away so I’m on my own. Although I love my husband and my friends, being alone is something I need more than some people. And one of the keys to well-being is knowing what you need and making sure you get it. For me, that’s having just enough time alone. And gardening. And, erm, boots.

So, it’s my book birthday and I can be shy if I want to.

Why buy Positively Teenage and The Teenage Guide to Life Online (TTGLO)?

If you’re an adult: buy Positively Teenage (which is for teenagers) if you want to understand teenagers in a much more positive way than usual, if you want to know how to help them, if you want to have insights you might not have had before, and if you want to be able to give your teenager advice without actually giving your teenager advice (because they’ll take it from me even if they won’t take it from you!)

If you’re a young person: buy Positively Teenage if you want the tools for the best possible adolescence and to learn how your brain, body and life can really be in your hands. This book is from me, to you. And then make your parents read it so that they understand you better.

Whether you’re an adult or a teenager: buy The Teenage Guide to Life Online if you want to be fully informed about ALL the positives and negatives of life online, positives and negatives for all ages. If you’re an adult, buy it so that you set good, sensible, reasoned “rules” for your teenagers and yourself. If you’re a teenager, buy it so that your adults know why being online is important and so that they start to improve their own behaviour! Because this book should really be called EVERYONE’S Guide to Life Online.

Thank you to:

My publishers, Hachette Children’s group (Positively Teenage) and Walker Books (TTGLO). They have worked together brilliantly. Great teams on editorial, sales and marketing. Special shout out to Victoria Brooker (second from left in the pic), Becky Logan (gosh we go back a long way!), Felicity Highet, Caz Royds (my Walker editor since 2005 with Blame My Brain), Becky Watson and Emma o’Donovan.

My agent, Elizabeth Roy. She’s been my agent forever. I call her my Rock of Ages.

And all the many, many school librarians out there who have supported my books so incredibly well. And I’m going to give two shout-outs because I know these schools are doing special displays of my books to celebrate the two new publications today: Valerie Dewhurst of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Blackburn and Sheila Compton of DAOS Library in Potters Bar. (If your school has also done this, let me know!) Loads of other schools have also been supportive and I know they’ve bought plenty of my books, which means a lot, especially when budgets are so tight. Oh yes, a school librarian (@skippety_doo on Twitter) bought copies of Positively Teenage as prizes for Y8 students so I offered to send a signed card for every student.

And YOU! Any of you who bother to read what I write, thank you. It means everything. One of the questions from a pupil yesterday was why I wanted to become a writer. The reason is because I want to be read. As a shy person, someone who needs to use a huge amount of energy to perform in public and who is far happier being private, being read is my way of performing. At school, I could write something and the teacher would read it out and people would respond with what emotion I intended (if I wrote well enough). That was my heartsong: to be able to move people’s minds with my words, to put words into their heads, to build worlds in their imaginations. It’s all I want to do. Now, of course, I’ve learnt to do the public speaking and I’m confident in it but I’m not comfortable.

I’m really only comfortable when I’m writing and you’re reading and the silence between us is filled with thoughts, not eyes and spoken words and the need to react outwardly.

So, thank you for reading and thinking.

And now I’m going to tiptoe away to be blissfully on my own. Don’t take offence. It’s my double book birthday… And I have a barbecue and broad beans and boots to deal with.

If you’re a school, don’t forget to enter this ace, simple, fun, free competition. Deadline is June 8th and I know that’s just after half-term but it really really doesn’t take long to enter. Please do! books to win and the possible chance of a free visit.





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