Friday, 29 July 2011

Character Profile: Stewart Lawrence

The outside centre for Mount Olivet Grammar School's First XV rugby squad, Stewart Lawrence is currently dating Imogen Dawson, the blonde bombshell of his year. Well-dressed and well-liked, Stewart is definitely one half of fifth year's it-couple.


FULL NAME: Stewart William Lawrence

BIRTHDAY: April 19th

HOME TOWN: Saintfield, County Down, BT24

HAIR COLOUR: Light brown

MEASUREMENTS: 6' 3", toned, trim

RELIGION: Christian - Protestant (Presbyterian)

PLACE OF WORSHIP: First Presbyterian Church, Saintfield

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: Vomiting on himself in the middle of Technology class in second year, due to food poisoning. Peter's chant mid-vomit did not help.


FATHER: Martin Lawrence, builder (49)

MOTHER: Valerie Lawrence, primary school teacher (41)

SIBLINGS: Jessica (14), currently a pupil in Mount Olivet, two years below Stewart

Monday, 25 July 2011

My interview on ArtsExtra with the BBC

Last week I had a great time talking on BBC ArtsExtra with Marie-Louise Muir about Popular. You can listen to the interview by going to the ArtsExtra site and clicking on the broadcast for 21/7/2011. If you want to skip to the interview, move the cursor to the 13:00 minute mark and enjoy! Loved doing this interview.

A thought-provoking tribute to a troubled singer

"When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone." - Russell Brand
I've had a difficult relationship with the differing reactions to the deeply tragic death of the singer, Amy Winehouse, who was found dead in her north London apartment yesterday at the age of twenty-seven. On the one hand, part of me is irritated and a little repulsed by the outpouring of mawkish, over-the-top sentiment that's predictably exploded over Facebook on the same day when news that ninety-seven people have been slaughtered by a mentally deranged terrorist in Norway is going more or less unremarked upon. Alright, you could certainly argue that Amy Winehouse's voice, talent and music meant people felt a connection to her that they just don't feel to the young people whose youth summer scheme on an island off the coast of the kingdom of Norway was turned into a terrifying bloodbath. But even so, to be moved to hysterical outpourings at the news about Amy Winehouse and then to not even pay tribute to the horror in Norway seems tasteless and thoughtless.

But on the other hand, Amy Winehouse's death is a tragedy and had people reacted in a way which showed at least a general awareness that another tragedy had occurred on the same day in another country, I'd have absolutely no problem with her fans and admirers expressing their genuine sorrow that such a gifted young woman came to such a premature and unnecessary end. I'm irritated and upset by the lack of mention for Norway, but I also understand people's need to express their sadness that the life of someone whose art brought joy into their lives has passed away. 

What I can't understand are the Facebook statuses and groups which mention her death in a negative way. You know the ones I'm talking about already. The ones which turn her death into a joke less than twenty-four hours after it happened and the ones who, to quote my friend Pamela Mills, have completely forgotten that Amy Winehouse was somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's friend. Even worse are the ones which climb on their metaphorical soapbox to proclaim that somehow she "deserved" her death because she was a drug addict who had failed rehab and failed to kick her habit.

Addiction is a disease. Yes, undoubtedly people could and should say that the story of Amy Winehouse is a frightening modern morality tale of a young girl who was caught up in an environment which actually praised permanent hard-core drug use and shunned the very idea of rehab as pathetic, even laughable - as her most famous song proclaimed. But to say that Amy Winehouse was therefore deserving of her death is only marginally more disgusting than it is idiotic. Gifted, troubled, haunting, pitied and admired, what happened to Amy Winehouse was a very, very sad story.

The actor and comedian, Russell Brand, who knew Amy Winehouse through a mutual set of friends, has written a moving tribute to her and her death. And thanks to my friend Robbie for passing it on. For the full article, which I really recommend, click here.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Gareth Russell interviewed on "Good Morning, Ulster"

You can listen to my interview with Connor Bradford on BBC Radio Ulster's morning radio programme, Good Morning, Ulster, by clicking on the link here. The interview, which was broadcast on 8th July 2011, will be available online for six more days and if you listen to it, go to the 2:20 mark for my interview. So weird hearing your voice on the radio! I don't think anyone thinks they sound like they do when they hear their voice aloud!

"Popular" in Germany

Puffin have sold the German-language rights to Popular, which will hopefully be available in German sometime in 2012! I'll keep people posted with the news about this, which I'm really excited about.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Lower Sixth popular girls

In the year above the main characters of Popular are the beautiful, ruthless and occasionally clueless Lower sixth popular girls. 


Clique Nickname: "The Heiresses" or "The BT19ers."

Clique Leader: Anastasia Montmorency (17)

Other Members of the posse: Lavinia Barrington, Mariella Thompson, Natasha Jenkins and Tangela Henton-Worley

Trademark/s: Fabulous hair, excellent accessories, an aversion to calories, communists and effort

Never Without... Their fathers' credit cards.

Group Heroes: Olivia Palermo and Blair Waldorf 

Favourite Belfast Haunts: The bar at the Merchant hotel and Deane's at Queen's

Most Frequently Spotted in school: In the first floor girls' bathroom or at the back of the study hall, reading magazines.

Least Frequently Spotted in school: The science block

Most Infamous Quote: "Isn't it sad the way God gave ugly girls the same feelings as pretty ones? It's like wanting to shop but not having a credit card." - Mariella Thompson

Least Likely to hear them say: "Come sit with us any time you like. You're totally welcome." "Money can't buy happiness" or "It's what's on the inside that counts."

Key Phrase to avoid in conversation with them: "I am so keen to be your friend, guys!"

Other profiled cliques: The fifth year indies, the upper sixth popular crowd and the First XVs

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Anne Boleyn Files reviews "Popular"

Claire Ridgway, creator of the fantastic and very successful website The Anne Boleyn Files, has reviewed Popular and here's a peak at some of the thing she had to say: -

"The novel follows the group through the events of their school year – the return to school in September, Kerry’s 16th birthday party, nights out, dates, balls, Christmas, non-uniform days, mock exams, Valentine’s Day, sports day, GCSE exams and the end of term – and everything that goes with it: drunken antics, hangovers, infidelity, stolen kisses, secrets, lies, fashion faux pas, disasters, break-ups, romance, heartache, bitching, “emergencias”, tall tales, revelations… You name it! The book is a fun read, just perfect for the beach or lazing in a sunny garden, and takes you back to your school days when every faux pas was an “emergencia”. In Gareth’s bio at the front, it says that “nearly all the book is based upon events that have happened during his schooldays – the more ridiculous they seem, the greater chance that they are close to real life”, well, Gareth, your school days must have been one hell of a ride!

So, even though this book has nothing to do with Anne Boleyn or Tudor history, apart from Gareth being an historian and the novel containing references to Anne and “The Tudors”, I would recommend it. Why? Because it’s fun and it’s by a great writer. If you enjoy “Sex in the City”, if you want to be reminded of the angst and madness of your school days, if you love Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn and Scarlett O’Hara, and you appreciate good modern fiction, then I’d recommend “Popular”. Gareth is already working on the sequel and I can’t wait to read it."

For Claire's full review, click HERE.
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