Ways to Live Forever: Sally Nicholls

Sam is a 12 year old boy with leukemia. He starts writing at home, because he’s too ill to attend school, and starts making lists of questions he wants answered, and of things he wants to do before he dies. He writes in a very honest and open way about his fears, hopes and worries about dying, and what the rest of his family are experiencing. At the same time, though, there’s a depth to it because Sam doesn’t explicitly describe a lot – he ignores his parents’ relationship, his sister’s emotional difficulties and other things he alludes to but …

Rewriting endings

Rewriting stories is always the hardest part for me. Editing your own work is always difficult. Not the proof-reading or checking the spelling – although there, too, it’s always difficult to read what you’ve written instead of what you intended to write – but the fundamental plotline or needing to know a character better (or less!). As a writer, you know a lot more than the reader needs to but communicating it, or holding it back, is a really difficult balance. There are other reasons for rewriting as well, one of which I’m working with at the moment.

Locked In

Just one of the research materials for the story I’m currently working on! It seems like a horrifying idea – that you can be completely conscious, even feeling whatever is going on, and yet not be able to communicate or move in any way. Everything you did would be at the whim of someone else, who might not even believe that you were able to hear or see them. Woman’s recovery from ‘locked-in’ syndrome

India Knight’s Comfort and Joy

I really wanted to like this book. I love India’s columns in The Times, and find her tweets often hilarious – especially when she and Caitlin Moran are watching Downton Abbey at the same time. I think she usually has a lot of interesting things to say and a sarcastic, yet honest, way of writing. It doesn’t feel, in her columns, as though she’s going for a cheap laugh or a moment’s entertainment at the expense of the point she’s trying to make. But I didn’t feel the same warmth from her novel. Set over three conscutive Christmas Days, 2009-11, …