Today’s the day! Chelsea High, my first young adult title, hits the shelves.
Described as Gilmore Girls meets Gossip Girl, it follows the life of Norah Whittaker who has lived an idyllic childhood, growing up on Mulberry Island, working on her mum’s Portobello market stall, laughing, joking, swimming in the river with her friends. But then her lovely dad is suddenly arrested for fraud and all their friends turn against them having lost their life-savings in his get-rich-quick schemes. Grandparents Norah knew nothing about swoop in to pay his legal fees as long as Norah is enrolled – like the generations before her – in Chelsea High, an exclusive school in the heart of London. When she turns up on her bike on the first day of term and is confronted by chauffeur driven Bentleys, students tanned from summers in St Barts, and an immediate backlash against her, Norah knows her life has changed forever. Her only hope is the school play and the gorgeous, illusive leading actor, Ezra Montgomery.
What inspired Chelsea High?
As a writer, you take things that have happened to you or situations you are familiar with and ramp them up to their highest level of conflict and excitement. I went to a school not dissimilar to Chelsea High – but without the added layer of gloss. It was cliquey and loud, bitchy and fun. You were friends one minute and arch enemies the next. To survive you had to know yourself and find where you belonged, and that isn’t easy as a teenager.
I wanted to take someone who thought they understood themselves and their life and throw it into chaos. In Chelsea High, that happens to Norah. When everything she relies on is stripped away, will she sink or swim?
Where is Mulberry Island?
I wanted Norah’s life prior to starting at Chelsea High to be a complete contrast to this glossy elite.
One day, I took a trip to Eel Pie Island which is just round the corner from where I live in South West London. Most famous for its hotel where bands like The Who, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones used to play, it’s a quirky little place with a real sense of community. The exact opposite of Chelsea High! Walking among the ramshackle bungalows and houseboats – buildings with giant fiberglass ice-cream cones stuck to the roof and fake sharks in the garden – the idea of Norah and her eclectic family came into being.
The Whittakers live on a houseboat on the Bohemian Mulberry Island where everyone knows everyone. The community is like a family. There are island parties, bands, theatre and swimming in the river.
There are lots of island communities up and down the Thames. If you want to visit Eel Pie Island it’s twenty minutes on the train from London Waterloo to Twickenham then you can either walk or take a five minute bus journey to the island. Alternatively you can take the tube – as Norah does – to Richmond and again hop on a bus.
Head over to Instagram where I’m doing a takeover of @electricmonkeybooks! I’ll be talking about everything to do with my new Young Adult book, Chelsea High. Find out all the behind the scenes inspiration, my favourite characters, maybe even a tour of where I write. Join me 4 o’clock today xx
A date for your diaries! Join me this Thursday 9th July at 3pm for the #HQBookClub on Facebookto talk about The Summer We Ran Away, writing, reading and any other questions you have…
2. Win! Head over to HQStories Instagram for the chance to win a copy of The Summer We Ran Away by adding your favourite summer song in their comments. (And for an extra slice of summer, check out my summer Spotify playlist)
3. Finally, The Summer We Ran Away is STILL only 99p on Kindle/ Apple/ Kobo and other fab ereading devices! Enjoy.
The Summer We Ran Away is only 99p for a limited time! Grab your copy before the sale ends. What better way to enjoy your weekend than with a book (in the garden or the pub!) Even the weather thinks so by promising sunshine 😉
Praise for The Summer We Ran Away:
‘Pure escapism’ Bella
‘An adventure full of laughter, tears, unexpected dramas, and self-discovery’ – Lancashire Post
‘Hilarious and relatable’ Woman
Amazon reviewers say… ‘Simply wonderful’, ‘Just the read you need at the moment’, ‘This was an absolute joy to immerse in.’