Category Archives: Papers Pens Poets

An interview with… Lucy Courtenay

Lucy Courtenay has over a hundred books ranging from young fiction all the way through to young adult romance. In May 2017, I interviewed her for the Papers Pens Poets blog about her love of stationery .

She told me her favourite pen at school was a fat-nibbed black Sheaffer fountain pen, which she took particular delight in changing the colour of her ink cartridges and watching the colour gradually bleed. In one notable essay on the Treaty of Versailles, from blue to purple to pink to purple to pink again. She also loves smelly gel pens.

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Lucy revealed:

“With notebooks, it’s looks all the way. But looks come with a caveat. The prettier the notebook, the less likely I am to write in it. My favourite – a floppy green nubuck journal printed with brown birds and branches – is still pristine, because I can’t bring myself to make a single mark on its pages.” Lucy Courtenay

She explained she usually tries to make do with the ragbag stationery already in the house rather than buy new stuff. She admits that post-it notes litter her desk with odd words and phone numbers in a rainbow of colours and she likes folders too.

You can read the full interview on the Papers Pens Poets blog.

Find out more about Lucy and her writing  on her website www.lucycourtenay.com

Follow her on Twitter (@LucyCourtenay1), Facebook (@lucycourtenayauthor) and Instagram (@lucycourtenayauthor).

An interview with… Ali Sparkes

For the Papers Pens Poets blog in 2017, I interviewed Ali Sparkes about her love of stationery.

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She told me:

“When it comes to high-speed book signing for 200 hyped up Year 6s, nothing beats my trusty Pentel Energel. It’s very fast and smooth and doesn’t smudge UNLESS you try to use it on any kind of shiny paper. Then it’s flippin’ useless because it smears like 1960s mascara in a sauna.”

Ali Sparkes

Ali explained that she orders the refills in bulk and was ecstatic when she discovered they made coloured refills too. For her book Thunderstruck, she needed green or purple ink because there was no clear white space for her signature, so it was difficult to see her usual black ink against it.

Like me, Ali Sparkes has a shelf of notebooks that are too nice to use.

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She prefers narrow feint and avoids spiral bound. She has a weakness for Fabriano A4 pads in her favourite colours of lime green, orange and purple.  Ali revealed she love the simple coloured cardboard covers and stapled-in pages which don’t rip away and fall apart when you give them a hard stare. She told me that although they are quite pricey in shops there are some good deals online.

Another stationery favourite for Ali is sticky notes.

“I have to have those little stick-in tabs for when I’m line editing a paper manuscript. By the time I’m done my manuscript looks a little like a groovy 1970s handbag with a multi-coloured fringe.”

Ali Sparkes

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You can read the full interview on the Papers Pens Poets blog.

Find out more about Ali Sparks and her books on her website: www.alisparkes.com  or follow her on Twitter: @SparkesAli. Or check out her You Tube page. 

An Interview with… Cliff McNish

In July, 2016, Cliff McNish talked to Papers Pens Poets about his newly discovered stationery idiosyncrasies. He thought he didn’t care about what pens/paper I used… until he realised, after we made him think about it, that he really, really did. Or did he?

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Cliff revealed he prefers ink-roller pens to standard biro, and they usually have to be blue ones unless he is in a perverse mood and decides to use green. When he is sketching ideas he tends to start a new note pad. But not any note pad,  it needs to be A5 format.

“Here’s the weird thing … even if I only make 3 or 4 pages of notes before I go to the PC I then like to discard it and start with a new notebook for the next book. All that space wasted.” Cliff McNish

When he is signing books he prefers a sharpie fine point, preferable in blood red.

You can read the full interview here and you might just get the slight impression he really wasn’t taking it seriously. I think maybe he did the interview more as a favour for me than a real love of stationery. so thank you Cliff for being such as good sport and taking part. 🙂

Find out more about Cliff on his website and follow him on Twitter @cliffmcnish

An interview with… Chitra Soundar

In September 2016, I interviewed Chitra Soundar about her favourite stationery for the Papers Pens Poets blog.

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She told me she is not keen on pencils for her writing she prefers pens because she fears with pencils her writing may become blurred over time. This would be a disaster.

“…especially if I become so famous that there might be a museum and these notebooks will have to go on display. What if a young researcher who wants to read my writing finds it hard to read?”

Her favourite pens are Pilot V-sign – especially the black and red hues. They are bright and will keep her words safe forever.

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As for notebooks Chitra prefers, plain paper rather than dots or lines, as she can scribble across and diagonally without the lines staring at me with disapproval.

In fact she is very fussy about notebooks and would rather have branded notebooks, such as Leuchtturm and Moleskine because of the thickness of the paper, the gorgeous vibrant colours of the covers and the options available – like hardbound vs leather covers vs cardboard covers. It’s the quality of paper that clinches it for her. The Moleskine Cahiers are journals with a flexible heavy-duty cardboard cover with visible stitching on the spine. For every new project she buys a new Cahier, which come in a pack of three. She likes the pastel coloured covers best. Chitra claims they look graceful.

“It’s not really about the brand – it’s more about the quality of paper. I recently found a A5 notebook in Paperchase which had same quality of paper and beautiful hardbound cover which I use as the “in-my-purse” notebook.”

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“I think buying a notebook is the same (but more important) as buying shoes or bags. Good functional quality and then design and looks. Then the price makes it either a “reward” buy or a mandatory buy. I absolutely cannot write my award-winning novel celebrating diversity without a French Cahier by British Moleskin written using Asian Pilot V-Sign.”

Chitra told me that when she was writing full-time on an empty stomach, she was not sure if she would choose wisely between a Cahier and a full meal. Just in case, she ended up choosing food, she was hoarding all her favourite notebooks so when the day came she had to suffer for her art, at least her art wouldn’t suffer.

You can read the full interview here.

You can find out more about Chitra and her books on her website: www.chitrasoundar.com Or follow her on Twitter  @csoundar. Or Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChitraSoundarAuthor

An Interview with… Mo O’Hara

For the last few years I have been interviewing authors, illustrators, editors and fellow bloggers about their love of stationery for the Papers Pens Poets blog. The blog was not my idea it was my friend’s Jo Franklin‘s idea. But I am excellent at working to a brief so I have taken the idea and ran with it. Since March 2016,when we launched the blog, we have made — posts and most of them have been interviews.

In July 2016, I interviewed children’s book writer, Mo O’Hara. She told me:

“Like so many authors I am a bit of a stationary nerd.  I am notebook and file obsessed but pens aren’t really something that I gush over.  I’m definitely not a fountain pen girl (I’m far too messy).” Mo O’Hara

When she starts a new project she generally allows herself to splurge on a new notebook as a treat.

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Also if she is going to a conference or retreat she always start with a fresh notebook but she also takes her thought notebooks and her project notebooks along too. She said:

“It’s more about the feel of a notebook for me and not the look.  I always buy them in shops and not online because I need to pick up the book and hold it. I’m very kinaesthetic like that.” Mo O’Hara

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Mo O’Hara writes the My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series, published by Macmillan.

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She launched a brand new series My FANGtastically Evil Vampire Pet in September 2018. the second in the series, Space Cat-astrophe was released in February 2019.

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Mark is off to Evil Scientist Space Camp, which is being led by the totally epic evil astronaut Neil Strongarm who is looking for evil apprentices for his next space mission!

You can read the complete interview on the Papers Pens Poets blog.  You can find out more about Mo O’Hara and her books on her website is: www.moohara.co.uk and follow her on twitter: @Mo_OHara. 

An interview with… Patrice Lawrence

In July 2016, I interviewed award-winning novelist, Patrice Lawrence for the Papers pens Poets blog. She told me her most highly-prized stationery item, way above anything else, is her green tartan pencil case.

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“It was a present from my daughter and came from Muji, a popular haunt for our stationery needs.  I can’t even remember having a pencil case at school, but I must have.  And I’ve certainly got one now.  It’s crammed full of Sharpies, promotional pens from charities and companies, a couple of cheap, sparkly ink pens that leak over my fingers and a lovely sky blue Pentel sign pen.  It says it on the side.  Sign.  So I did.” Patrice Lawrence

Patrice admits to being a bit of a notebook hoarder. She has leather-bound and fabric-covered that were much-needed presents. She has an assortment of black Cass Arts sketch books of all sizes, including a couple of A3 hardbacks she has used for planning books she hasn’t had time to write yet.  She even has three from post-Christmas Paperchase sales to secretly record interesting bus stations.

She told me:

“Orangeboy was written on and off over a few years, by keyboard and pencil, in random notebooks and occasionally the back of a conference agenda if the speakers weren’t quite doing it for me.” Patrice Lawrence

Her latest book Rose Interrupted, published by Hodder Children’s Books, is due to be launched in July, 2019. It is about 17-year-old Rose and 13-year-old Rudder who have escaped a strict religious sect with their mum. They are still trying to make sense of the world outside – no more rules about clothes and books, films and music, no more technology bans. But also no more friendship with the people they’ve known all their lives, no community and no certainty. This is the story about coming of age, slap-bang in the middle of a strange new world.

You can read the complete interview with Patrice here.

To find out more about Patrice Lawrence and her books, you can follow her on Twitter at @LawrencePatrice and on her blog at: www.patricelawrence.wordpress.com

An interview with… Alison Rattle

In June 2016, I interviewed Alison Rattle about her passion for stationery for the Papers Pens Poets blog. You can read the full feature on her and her stationery here.

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Alison told me she does not have a favourite pen she just picks up the first thing to hand.

“When I’m writing a book I usually start off on my laptop, but then very quickly reach for a pen and notebook. There’s something very freeing, peaceful and intimate about letting your imagination run wild across a beautiful clean page.” Alison Rattle

She told me she always buy a new notebook whenever she starts a new idea for a book.

“It’s a brilliant excuse to add to my collection, but also so exciting to hold those clean, fresh pages in my hand, knowing that before long they’ll be covered in words I can’t even imagine yet.” Alison Rattle

Her most glamorous and expensive notebooks tend to be received as presents as Alison revealed she only buys reasonably priced ones, but even so they have to be pretty.

“Once I start writing in a notebook, I’m not precious about it at all. They all end up being scruffy, well-worn things that contain not only the workings of my book, but scribbled recipes, telephone numbers, shopping lists etc… a snapshot of my life during the writing process.” Alison Rattle

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Alison normally writes gritty crime thrillers, published by Hot Key Books. But her latest books includes two whimsical collections of quotations published by Carlton Books. They are compilations of over 1500 amusing and insightful quotations from well-known writers, politicians, film stars, artists, musicians and philosophers.

You can follow Alison on Twitter @alisonrattle