Various things.

Hello, everyone. Hope you’re all well. Sorry for the long radio silence- I’ve been fairly busy with various beginning-of-school-term things, mostly waiting apprehensively for the avalanche of work that the year-aboves swear will hit me any day now. So before that happens, I thought I should update this.

The first thing I should say is that I’ve set up a new email address specifically for this blog- or for anyone else who wants to get in contact with me, who I reckon will eventually find their way here anyway. It’s (and, in my defence, I put ‘writer’ in the handle only very reluctantly; who are all these other Helena Coggans forcing me to use pretentious Gmail usernames?); if you want to get in contact with me for any reason, please use that one. Needless to say, please don’t be rude and/or hateful, if only because I shall find it highly amusing and I fear you will have thus wasted your time.

The other thing I wanted to do is put up a list of all the things I’m doing over the next few months, because what’s the point in having a blog if you can’t use it for shameless self-promotion? If you’re interested, I’m at the Chiswick Book Festival this Saturday at the Tabard Theatre (which, despite walking past it fairly regularly for the last sixteen years, I have entered only once, surreptitiously, to use the toilet- I’m quite excited about going in there legitimately) at 2:45, talking to Torin Douglas about… things. Presumably. I’m also slightly further away, two weeks later, at the Wigtown Book Festival, at four o’clock on Saturday 26th, doing much the same thing. That, thankfully, is the end of my being on stage on my own (albeit with lovely and knowledgeable interviewers). On the 3rd of October I’m at the Bath Children’s Literary Festival with Taran Matharu and Catherine Doyle, talking to John McLay (3:30, the Guildhall)- all brilliant people; then on the 4th– I’m going to have to get a lot of homework extensions that weekend- I’m at the Henley Literary Festival with the amazing Samantha Shannon, talking about writing and fantasy to Amanda Jennings (11, Town Hall). On the 6th I’m at the Wimbledon Book Festival with Rebecca Morgan and Lindsay Barraclough, talking to Dr James Smythe (4:45, William Morris Tent- I’m in a tent!); and finally, on Sunday 11th, I’m going to the Cheltenham Literary Festival with the fantastic Francesca Haig to speak to Anna James (2:30, The Drawing Room).

It looks far more daunting when written out like that. I am now quite nervous. I’ve got to stop doing that to myself.

Anyway- the last thing I wanted to say is that the paperback version of The Catalyst comes out on the 24th of September. (If you’re at all interested, you can pre-order it here.)

And, that’s it! We apologise for the interrupted service- normal broadcasting will resume shortly.

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Calling the Internet… hello, is that the Internet…?

Well, hi there.

Hope you’re all okay. My name is Helena, and I kill imaginary people for fun. (I have actually tried introducing myself to people like this. Generally, they look quite nervous and immediately find someone else to talk to.) This is by far the most entertaining way of saying ‘sci-fi/fantasy author’ I have yet developed; I could of course say that straight out, but because of the whole age thing, I generally have to say it several times – and have other, older-looking people back me up on it – before people actually believe me. I’ve had six months, now, to invent more interesting ways of introducing myself. I prefer the trial-and-error approach.

I’m only going to be fifteen for another week or so. This has been making me unaccountably nervous, because after half a year of being introduced as ‘the fifteen-year-old author’, you start to feel that by turning sixteen you’re selling out in some way. Because I’m an August baby, though, most of my friends have been sixteen for months now, and they assure me it’s not that different, apart from being able to register for a tractor or gun license. A girl at my school apparently actually learnt how to drive a tractor a couple of years ago, just to prove she could. I did hesitantly raise this with my parents, to admittedly little effect (‘Can I learn how to drive a tractor when I’m sixteen?’ ‘No.’ ‘Not even a little bit?’ ‘Not even a little bit. But you can learn the lyrics to the JCB song, if you want.’).

The only problem with being regularly introduced to other people as a ‘teenage author’ is that you’re expected to know about the Internet. I know nothing about the Internet. All right, fine, I know a bit, but only in the same way that I can name the members of One Direction, in that I’ve absorbed stuff (very reluctantly, in the latter case) from years of being around people who do know.

I am not, and have never been, on any kind of social medium. The original reason for this, I must admit, was that I had no friends outside of school and thus no real reason to use them, but by the time I was thirteen or fourteen, though, it had become a sort of point of principle, albeit a completely illogical one. I felt occasionally like my school’s ambassador from the 1960s (I am a massive Beatles and Doctor Who fan).

Anyway, that worked pretty well up until a few weeks ago, when a whole group of us got asked, in front of an audience, about our engagement with the social media. The rest of them (Samantha Shannon, Lucy Saxon, Taran Matharu and Alice Oseman, four of the most intimidatingly clever and funny people I’ve ever met) delivered thoughtful and inspired answers exploring the importance of the online world to the modern-day author.

‘I’m… not really on… the Internet, as such,’ I said, slightly awkwardly. ‘I think it would be too… distracting. And I’d screw up and say something stupid, and it would be immortalised for all time, and…’

And three days later I was sitting in a meeting at Hodder about how best to use the Internet to interact with people.

It was this or Tumblr.

I’m still anxious about saying stupid things, or becoming too distracted- but too be honest I say stupid things on a daily basis, and prior to writing this sentence I spent ten minutes watching my cat stare at a pigeon in the garden, so neither of these things are really avoidable. So I will try to write this blog in as un-stupid a manner as I can, as well as trying to get some actual work done. In the meantime, enjoy the summer, those of you in the northern hemisphere; and to those of you in Australia:



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