Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sequins, Stars and Spotlights blog tour - interview and giveaway!

Hey everyone! The lovely Sophia Bennett, author of Threads, her debut novel, and Beads, Boys and Bangles, the sequel, is dropping by as part of her Sequins, Stars and Spotlights blog tour . Sequins, Stars and Spotlights is the third, and final installment in Sophia's amazing Threads trilogy. She's here to discuss fashion, writing, and orange shorts! But first of all, here's a little bit about the book....

Four girls have four dreams. Crow is on the way to becoming an international fashion designer. Jenny's been discovered by a Broadway composer. Edie still wants to go to Harvard. Nonie ... isn't really sure, but knows it's something fashion-related and wonderful. They're growing up and on the brink of glittering careers. So why are their lives so complicated? Why does success demand sacrifices, and which ones are they willing to make? In this, the final book of the Threads trilogy, Nonie discovers that life is just beginning. The girls have choices to make. Who will wait for fame? Who will emerge an outright star? Who will fall in love? And who will turn her back on all her dreams? This time the answers are in New York. It's a long way for Nonie to travel, especially with only one teeny-weeny wheelie bag. But for the sake of her friendships, Nonie will do whatever it takes.

And now for the interview....

When did you decide you wanted to be writer?

This is the first question my agent asked me. I  remember wanting to be a writer, preferably a poet, when I was seven. When I was eight or nine, I had to describe a school trip in a diary, and I did it in rhyming couplets. (I know … ew). I’ve wanted to be many things in my life, from Olympic gymnast to air hostess, but I never really changed my mind about writing. Hearing I was shortlisted for The Times/Chicken House competition was one of the best moments of my life. I knew then that one day, I would be published. Nine months later, my book was on the shelves. (Thank goodness. I was never, frankly, going to make it as an Olympic gymnast.)

What would be your dream job, apart from writing?

Am I allowed screenwriting? I’d love to write a romcom. Travel writer would be good. So would writer for Vogue … I’m sensing a theme here. Of course, if I had to be a successful fashion designer, I wouldn’t mind too much. Victoria Beckham’s doing OK. But what I love is that so many actresses and pop stars and other celebrities (like Madonna and Sophie Dahl) really want to be children’s writers. That always makes me smile.  

Which author do you admire most, and why?

There are so many. Too many. Quite a lot of them are French or Italian, because I studied both languages for my degree. Michel Butor. Proust. Boccaccio. Dante. There’s Shakespeare, obviously. One of the authors I love the most is Dorothy L Sayers, because I adore detective fiction and Lord Peter Wimsey is my favourite character. But the author who most inspired me to write the way I do is Noel Streatfeild. She wrote about creative children with big ambitions. I loved that. I really admire JK Rowling for the way she’s using her millions to do good. If I ever met her, I’d want to talk to her about that, actually, rather than the books (which I love). And Jacqueline Wilson is the nicest possible, most encouraging person for new writers. She’s very generous and I’m a big fan.

Are you a fashion guru, like Nonie?

Quite simply, no. I make an effort. Thanks to my very generous mother, I’m the proud owner of a Vivienne Westwood dress and a pair of my very own Louboutins. But I mostly live in jeans and cardigans. They’re comfortable to write in! One of my friends used to be a model and dresses in a casual, relaxed, cool, trendy way. She advises clients on what to buy. Actually, she is a professional fashion guru, come to think of it. I’d love to be like her. But sadly, I’m not. I’m just a fashion enthusiast. And not of all fashion – by any means. Just what’s creative and inspirational and makes people feel good about themselves. If it makes you feel inadequate in any way, it’s bad. Nonie dresses the way I wish I’d had the confidence to dress when I was her age. I’m pretty jealous of her, actually.

What was your most disastrous fashion moment : )?

I have too many disasters to choose from. Possibly the one on the Threads website, where I’m in the orange shorts, purple tights and a red top. Actually, the shorts are fine – it’s the top that’s a killer. Then there’s the one where I’m nineteen, in a strapless dress pulled down too low over my cleavage. Or the electric blue pencil skirt and matching batwing jumper. Or the velvet knee-length trousers with a white frilly shirt and velvet shoelace tie. All of which I liked at the time. Growing up in the eighties was a nightmare.

Random question - if you could live on day in the life of anyone, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

I’d love to have been a code-breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, working on the Enigma Code by day, saving countless lives, and dancing the night away with dashing Spitfire pilots in the CafĂ© de Paris. It was a very dangerous time, but all the more exciting for that. Picture me in a trench coat and trilby. Not that they actually wore those at Bletchley, but you get the idea. Also, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon must have been pretty amazing. I was three when that happened. The world was never the same again, because Space wasn’t just Space – it was somewhere you could go and wander around and see Earth from a distance. He hardly ever talks about it, because I think it was just too incredible. (Note – I don’t mention being an actress in a perfect dress, picking up an Oscar. So many of them have such terrible lows to go with the highs. *coughs* Sandra Bullock *coughs*)

Are you writing another book at the moment, and if so, could you tell us a little bit about it?

I certainly am. It’s a book called The Look, and it’s about a girl who’s very tall and a bit gawky, but who’s scouted to be a model. She’s not sure what she wants to do – she doesn’t know much about modeling – but then her sister is diagnosed with a serious illness and she starts rethinking her life. It’s been a difficult book to write – I had to research a lot about modeling – but it’s finally coming together. I’ve finished the first draft and I’m doing the first set of rewrites now. I’m sure there will be more to come. (Rewrites, I mean, not books, although I hope there will be more of those too.)

And finally, what tips do you have for aspiring writers?

‘Writers are people who find writing more difficult than other people.’ This is a quote from Thomas Mann and I’ve used it in the writing tips I give on my website. I often get asked this question! I think what the quote means is that you just have to get on with it. The first fan letter I ever wrote was to a journalist (still working) called Susan Marling. She basically said ‘Keep writing’. So I did, for the twenty-eight years it took between getting her reply and being published. It takes time, patience and persistence. I think the people who are successful are the people who never give up. They do it because they love it, and they can’t help it, and they’re constantly learning and improving. So keep at it. Read a lot. Go to movies and learn how they play with narrative. Don’t expect your first manuscript to be published. Or your second. Or your third. Create fascinating, unpredictable, unique characters. Believe in yourself. There you go.

Quick round!

Pink or Blue? 

Funnily enough, blue. (Although my handbag is pink. My wallet is pink. My tube pass is pink. My favourite Vivienne Westwood plastic shoes are pink …)

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter. Quicker.

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee. Essential.

India or New York?

Very tricky. At a pinch, New York.

And a really hard one - reading or writing?!

It is hard, but … writing. Filling up the page. It’s my vocation. But I couldn’t have done it without the reading. I recommend When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, by the way. It won the Newberry Medal last year and I’ve wanted to read it for ages. A fellow writer called Sarah Webb gave it to me yesterday (she’s lovely and I recommend her books!) and I’m half-way through. It’s brilliant. The kind of book that makes you want to be a writer.

I also have, courtesy of Sophia, a signed copy of Sequins, Stars and Spotlights to giveaway to one lucky winner! All you have to do is answer the following question:

What is the name of Sophia's debut novel?
Hint: The answer is somewhere in this post!

Please send your name, e-mail and your answer to booksterreviews@hotmail.com. The winner will be chosen at random using the RandomNumberGenerator.

If you are under 18, you must ask a parent/guardians permission before entering
The competition is open to UK residents only.
The closing date for the competition is Monday 14th February 2011.
One entry per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

You can check out the other stops on the blog tour HERE and pre-order a copy of the book (you should) HERE.  Sophia, thanks for stopping by, and I wish you the best of luck with Sequins, Stars and Spotlights and all of your other books in the future.

Threads Website
Sophia's Website


  1. This is so cool that you got to interview her!!! She sounds so nice!!

  2. What a fun interview - she seems a lovley person :) I would love to enter, but unfortunatly I haven't read the first two books in the trilogy. Good luck to those that do enter!!

  3. Zoe, you don't have to have read the first two books to enter, you can just read this one on it's own!

    Jen, she is really nice! I know I'm so lucky to have got to interview such a lovely person!

  4. What a wonderful interview - I absolutely loved reading that! Thank you, both of you!

  5. Please count me in. I would love to read this!

  6. Oh, thanks Cliona! I will enter :)


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