A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Holiday Reads – Saved By Lucy Maud

When I started thinking about this post, I had a strange realisation: I haven’t had a holiday for years.


What people think I do when I travel

People who know me will gasp and stretch their eyes and say, Sure you’re never off the batter! And secretly they think my life is one big holiday anyway. I mean, sitting round writing books all day! Isn’t that what I used to do with my holiday time when I had a proper job?

Well, they have a point. I do travel a lot these days. This summer I’ve been away twice – once to the Scattered Authors retreat at Charney Manor in Oxfordshire, which was lovely but I was co-organising it, so not, strictly, a holiday. And then, two days later to Arvon in Devon, with my young writers group aged 15-21. Wonderful, but if you consider it a holiday you’ve never been in loco parentis to fifteen young adults.


Totleigh Barton: a gorgeous place, but not a holiday when you’re looking after 15 young writers

99% of the time now, when I’m away it’s at least partly for work. So holiday read isn’t that appropriate. But I think the term holiday read was coined by and for people who mainly read on holiday. I know people who only read on holiday, seeing reading as a relaxing treat. Whereas for me it’s more necessary than that. When I get up in the morning I take my book from under my pillow and start reading it – OK, sometimes on the loo. Certainly as I’m eating breakfast. Often, if it’s sufficiently compelling, while I’m making breakfast – you can easily stir porridge with one hand and turn the pages with the other. I don’t read in the shower, but there are always baths. I don’t read when I’m driving but that’s what audio books are for.

As you might have guessed, I’m not wonderful at deferred gratification. I love the idea of keeping a special book for a journey, and I do sometimes manage to plan a cosy reread of an old friend, but when I get my hands on something I’m keen to read I find it very hard to keep it for even one day.

Holiday reading has, of course, been transformed by the e-book. I’m not a massive fan – like many people I much prefer an actual book with pages and a cover and a booky smell. BUT one of my most horrible memories is of being stuck in Romania in 2001 without a book, having underestimated how quickly I would get through my pile. The beauty of the kindle is that that need never happen again. My kindle lives in the bottom of a drawer but is taken out for travel. Being a cheapskate fulltime artist who has to budget carefully I have a lot of free or very cheap classics on it. Which saved my life, or at least my health and sanity, on one work trip.


What I do when I’m not travelling 

It was October 2013. I had just left gainful employment and was foolishly saying yes to every gig I was offered. I spent three weeks travelling from town to town, library to library, and about halfway through I realised I was exhausted in a way I had never been before. I was opening and closing my mouth and words were coming out – and, because I was invited back the next year, they must have made some kind of sense – but I felt completely disconnected from myself. Too many nights in dull hotel rooms; too many dinners alone.


What I really do when I travel 

I was in Wexford, or maybe Waterford. Or Westmeath. In my hotel bed at eight o’clock, wondering how on earth I would get through the second half of the tour. I was too tired for anything except reading but nothing appealed. I wanted novelty, but I hadn’t the energy to commit to anything new. And then! I remembered that I had, for only a pound or two, the complete L.M. Montgomery on my kindle. And though Anne was an old friend, Emily (of New Moon) was not. Perfect. I survived the rest of the tour.

images-2.jpegThe otheimages.jpegr beauty of the kindle is that you can be reading Emily Of New Moon while managing to suggest to fellow travellers/diners that you are in fact deep in a weighty tome and Must Not Be Disturbed.




About sheenawriter68

I write books, drink tea, and sing.


This entry was posted on August 7, 2017 by .

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