What a difference…

…a year makes!

This time last year, I was probably planning a Year 5 unit of work called ‘We’ll Meet Again’, and plotting to ‘evacuate’ 64 ten year-olds to Glynde. I had no idea that 2011 would go on to be a LIFE CHANGING YEAR. Those words are bandied around a lot on reality TV – life is so awful that we should all be going on The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent to escape our own existence.

Thankfully I didn’t have to sell my soul to Simon Cowell, but this truly has been a LIFE CHANGING YEAR. I know this to be true because my life is now different.

Last December 30th I didn’t have a book deal. The more pessimistic side of my brain had almost given up on Lis’s story. I thought Hollow Pike might be doomed to living on my bookshelf, and my bookshelf alone. I can honestly say I’ll never forget the LIFE CHANGING MOMENT when a publisher bid on my book and in a heartbeat, Hollow Pike became real. Since that point in February, I’ve been so busy with edits; leaving teaching; moving to London; book covers; book two that it’s only now I’ve given myself enough of a break to realise how mad it’s all been and how lucky I am. I suppose, in magazine speak, I am ‘living the dream’.

I do miss teaching – I miss the kids, I miss the fantastic staff I used to work with and I miss the routine (I like routine), but I’ve created a new ‘writer’ life – and so far I’m loving it. Again, I mustn’t forget how lucky I am, I know lots of writers would kill to be in this position. To other writers, I’d say ‘keep going’ – 2012 could be your LIFE CHANGING YEAR. That said, my day is pretty much the same as it was before, but without the having to go and teach bit (I also now wear ‘lounge pants’ most days). There are no glamorous parties, no red carpets, no champagne (it gives me the runs), and Steven Spielberg has yet to call my agent. For those craving fortune and glory, I’d recommend The X Factor.

Of course, 2012 will be another LCY…Hollow Pike is almost ready to hit the shelves, some of you are already reading it/have read it, which is terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure (after all, I did write it because I wanted other people to read it). In 2012, I finally get published! I can’t wait…biggest build up EVER! I suppose this next year will see more new experiences, meeting new people, visiting some schools, and I expect a lot more writing…when Hollow Pike is out there, we’ll start to talk about Book Two!

No resolutions for me this year… I’m happy to wait and see what happens next! I’ve said this before – but thank you to all the Twitter peeps, the support for the cover and stuff has been fantastic – and you can FINALLY read Hollow Pike in just one short month. I can’t wait to be able to talk about it, and I’m even more excited for you to meet Lis, Kitty, Jack and Delilah. In the run up to the launch, there’ll be all sorts of weird things happening here on the blog, and on Twitter, and on Fierce Fiction. There’s a book trailer just around the corner…I hear it’s a goodie…

So Happy New Year! Hollow Pike: The Countdown – begins 2/1/12.


James x

My Favourite Song of 2011!

My top spot goes to lovely Robyn ‘Robyn’ Carlsson, with the icy cool pop opus ‘Call Your Girlfriend’. If you haven’t heard it, it’s Robyn telling her illicit lover to put his main squeeze out of her misery, and let her know that, frankly, the snogging is better with her. Way harsh, Tai! No-one does ‘Tears In The Toilet’ like Robyn – as with all the best pop music, it’s bitter, sorrowful and morose, but expertly designed to be irresistable on the dancefloor. As if that weren’t enough, ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ is also my favourite pop video of the year. Robyn’s solo dance number was partly choreographed and partly improvised, and the result is compelling. Recently Katy Perry called Carlsson ‘the epitome of effortless cool’. Who are we to argue? Enjoy!

Don’t forget to tell me what YOUR number one would have been in the handy comment box below! Merry Christmas readers! xxx

Number 2!

Just missing out on the top spot is Nicola Roberts, formerly of Girls Aloud, now of make-up dynasty and fashion show attending. Her debut solo offering divided listeners and was very publicly shunned from the Radio 1 playlist. I suppose your enjoyment of this depends on how much you like Diplo produced ‘noises’ – interestingly, ‘Run The World’ by Beyonce wasn’t well-received either. To me, this is a TUNE. Clearly a mission statement for Miss Roberts, and apparently the album she wanted to make, but no-one wanted to listen to. FOOLS.

Number 3!

Let’s get this very clear. This is about the song not the artist (described elsewhere as a ‘melting Natalie Portman blow-up doll’). The hype award 0f 2011 goes to Lana Del Rey…all off the back of the excellent ‘Video Games’. I’m not sure she warrants all the attention – YouTube her live sets to see why, but this song is beautiful. It’s a big old retro lullaby and evocative of summer loving on long, balmy nights. Or something. Cool video too.

Number 4!

Another one to file under ‘things I wish Gaga had done in 2011’. Oddly, Bradford born Natalia Kills (formerly known as Verbalicious) is also signed to Interscope, Gaga’s label – which makes the similarities even weirder. Kills failed to launch, which is a real shame, as ‘Zombie’, ‘Wonderland’ and this, ‘Free’ are really good. It seems that, in 2011, if you didn’t have a Guetta or Harris rave horn, there was nothing that could be done.

Number 5!

It’s hardly original to include Adele in any top ten of 2011, but that’s no reason to not do. Yes, the songs have been played to death, but I still remember first hearing ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and being blown away last January. It’s bluesy; it’s heartbreaking; it sounds like something off the True Blood soundtrack. What I love best about Adele is her frank oversharing – you can taste the bile directed at her ex. Enjoy, if you can, like it’s the first time you heard it.

Number 6!

Some songs are worth it for the chorus alone. This is one of those songs. A mixture of Shampoo, The Spice Girls, The Dollyrockers and a whole lot of Dalston, Oh My! perhaps failed to launch the way they were supposed to in 2011, but that doesn’t stop ‘Dirty Dancer’ from being excellent. I LOVE a shit dance routine too.

Number 7!

Now, I think it’s fair to say that Little Mix will be the final nail in the coffin of The Saturdays. Where did it all go wrong for the Sats? They were too polished for one thing – too pretty and perfect to be relatable. If ‘Up’ didn’t take them to the top of the charts, nothing will. That said, this gem, produced by Girls Aloud megaminds, Xenomania, is a TUNE. ‘All Fired Up’ was pretty much the sound of my summer. The refrain ‘I put my head against the speakers’ is hypnotic, as is the final ‘keep me, keep me, keep me on your raaaaaaadar!’ The gimp monster from American Horror Story features heavily in the video too.

Number 8!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the female face of pop music at the moment, there are very few Y chromosomes in my top ten of 2011. In fact, this is pretty much it. The excellent Popjustice recently pointed out the Brighton duo Rizzle Kicks make pop look easy. They really do. Having lived in Brighton, the pair’s affable, inoffensive pop-rap feels organic. This was their first mainstream release, Down With The Trumpets.

Number 9!

I’m not fussed about Judas, and I’ve never been to Nebraska. While Lady Gaga was busy saving us, Katy Perry stepped up in 2011 to be better at being Lady Gaga than Gaga herself. My ninth favourite song of 2011 is E.T. It has a filthy Kanye rap, a spectacular video and a killer hook. Furthermore, I believe this song is what turned Little Mix into X Factor winners.