Today, I get to welcome the awesome Sophia Bennett, author of the gorgeous Threads series, to the blog for her Sequins, Stars and Spotlights blog tour! Take it away Sophia..
Less fashion, more compassion.
I didn’t originally mean for Threads to be about child soldiers. I really didn’t. My plan was to write a book about how to make couture dresses, and why you’d want to. Then it extended into why you’d want to wear them (if you were an up-and-coming celebrity), and why that might be more complicated and occasionally depressing than it sounds. Then I saw a poster about the Night Walkers of Uganda, and my story changed forever.
It wasn’t easy. It took seventeen drafts of the opening chapters to create a designer who was actually a refugee from a war-torn area in Africa. Worse, having a main character who had a secretly tragic background made me question whether I should be writing about fashion at all. Isn’t it fluffy and irrelevant? Why are we so interested in it? How can the Oscars matter when young boys have machine guns, and know how to use them?
I think – I hope – I found a way of pulling it all together. Certainly, as I wrote, I discovered that writing about the deeper issues forced me to consider what fashion can do to be useful and relevant. Everything that made the book difficult to write (almost impossible at times) made it worthwhile and, strangely, more enjoyable too.
By Beads, Boys & Bangles, I thought I knew what I was doing. There was another issue I wanted to investigate: child slave labour in the clothing industry. I realised that my readership (you!) is one of the most powerful in the world: teenagers buy stuff. They buy a lot of stuff, actually. And if they choose carefully what they buy, and what they won’t buy, they can change the world. I can’t bring child labour to an end, but you can. Or, as Edie would say, ‘Cheap Clothes Cost Lives’. Because she always tends to put things rather alarmingly.
When it came to Sequins, Stars & Spotlights, I assumed I’d find another issue about exploited children and write about that, but, books don’t always do what you tell them. The issue that ended up at the heart of the new book wasn’t what I expected at all. It’s a very private problem and it can happen anywhere – in this case, a flat in Kensington.
One of the characters is living with mental illness, or rather, living with the consequences of it. Depression is often invisible. You look OK: no injuries, no wheelchair. But it can make it impossible to get up in the morning, or it can make you do things you regret horribly later, and it can make things extremely tough for the people who love you.
So my new book is partly about finding your way in fashion, partly about making it on Broadway, but also, it’s about coping with someone close to you who can’t be the person they want to for you, however hard they try.
In each book, one of the characters surprises me. She suddenly finds an inner strength she didn’t know she had, and she reaches out to someone who needs her and does something amazing. In Threads it was Nonie, then it was Crow. Now it’s someone else’s turn. I’m very proud of what she does, and pleased with what happens for her in the end. It’s not what she expected, or what she originally wanted, but it’s totally right for her. I think she has a happy ending, and helps someone else to have one too. Now it’s time to find out if my readers agree.
What a beautiful story, Sophia. Thanks so much! I hope this will encourage you guys to pick up a copy of Threads soon, if you haven't already!
My reviews for Threads, Beads, Boys & Bangles and Sequins, Stars & Spotlights will be coming soon!
For the full tour schedule, go here.
Win a copy of Sequins, Stars & Spotlights over at Chicklish!