Sunday, 22 December 2013

Book update and a Christmas treat

So I haven't talked about it TOO much on here, but most of you know that in November I had my first YA book published by the wonderful Hot Key Books- The Isobel Journal. I thought that it might be nice if I shared a little more about what I've been doing since its publishing and get some links together of some videos, interviews, resources etc for those who are interested, so that is what I will be putting into this post :-)

But I'll start off with a treat for those of you who already know about the book:
I started making a playlist of songs to go with the book a while ago, but never really got round to actually uploading it to 8tracks. The idea was that I would choose some songs which flowed with the themes of the book- starting off with "About Me" (or at least, the fictionalised Isobel) through the love, heartbreak, and optimism of teenage girlhood. The book is full of references to music that I like so I have tried to include those mentioned too. What I'd like is if people could read along, and the music could act somewhat as a soundtrack. Or, just listen to it because you like cool music.
Here it is, finally uploaded as a Christmas treat - sorry about the awful "artwork"!


I also illustrated the tracklisting for you- I wish I had my scanner at home but since I took it to uni, I'll just upload this photo for now... I hope it's readable! I think if you click it you can view it bigger.

 Here is a run down of why I chose the songs I did:
  1. Los Campesinos! are my favourite band so I wanted to include them somewhere, lol. It was tricky to choose a song but since YMD! is arguably their most famous song (Budweiser ad) it seemed like the best choice- and it's probably the most "fun".
  2. School Is Boring by Shampoo is pretty self explanatory. But, I guess it's because I wrote the book through college and a lot of the drawings came from school notebook doodles- I was not very good at concentrating. 
  3. I chose this Slow Club song (or these 2 Slow Club songs, as it features a "secret track", just wait!) as the second half contains the lyric which we used as the books tag line- "I'm just a northern girl from where nothing really happens". Well, yep. That's me. We were given permission to use it on the cover and I'm glad because SC are also one of my favourites and were the first Proper Band I saw live- albeit with my Dad.
  4. I'm From Further North Than You... just another reference to the tag line, and what I'm singing to everyone down at university in Brighton.
  5. Catnaps are a band featured in the book, twice actually. Once when I used a line from this song as inspiration for a drawing - "I want to plant forget-me-nots in your mind..." - and also as the band under the headline "I love discovering new bands, it feels like a special secret". Not so secret now, but I really love this song. Gutted they split up!
  6. This Middle Ones song was on a compilation I got, and I just really like it- short and sweet and captures the feeling of really liking someone and feeling "free" with them. *Soppiness alert sorry*
  7. Teenage by Veronica Falls is a story about sneaking out and "driving late at night". Everything teenage girls (and boys?) dream about but actually doesn't really happen so much. But we can listen to this song... and dream about cuties whisking us away at midnight...
  8. HELEN LOVE! Well pretty much every HL song is an ode to being 16, but this is one of my favourites. It captures a slightly more realistic image of teenhood. "Met her boyfriend by the escalator", "Holding hands and kissing on the night bus", etc.
  9. I love Kenickie, Lauren Laverne's band in the 90's, and I only recently discovered this track. There's just something about it that makes me feel fuzzy.
  10. My friend put this Pulp song on a mixtape for me and it totally describes the feeling of- ok, here we're talking about answerphones, but it's 2013- texting someone so much and feeling like an idiot and not really being sure where you are "at" with them and stressing about it. "I know I don't own ya but I don't even know if I should phone ya"... I feel ya Jarv- JC also features in the book (where I swoon over him)
  11. This is a pretty jolly Jeffrey Lewis song which is actually about having an inescapably broken heart. JL also pops up in the book- I had a period where I didn't listen to much else.
  12. DNA by Darwin Deez was all I listened to when me and my first boyfriend stopped seeing each other. It's funny how things seem so important at the time.
  13. Now we are into the positive tracks- this great song features Jens Lekman (Swedish dream boy) and is all about moving on. "Happiness will be my revenge" is a great motto.
  14. As I conclude the book, I briefly mention the impact that Survivor had on me when I was feeling sad. But I wasn't making it up- listening to Survivor like, 3 times a day for a month, changed my mindset about my life completely. AFTER ALL  OF THE DARKNESS AND SADNESS!!!! SOON COMES HAPPINESS!!!!
  15. This amazing song by Summer Camp is the 2010's version of Survivor, maybe.
  16. And oh man I don't even have to talk about this one. An anthem! When it first came out I was at a birthday party and it came on and I ran across the room to grab one of my friends and make her dance with me. Thank u TSwiz.

 Okay so that's that!! I hope you like it. I haven't done an 8tracks mix for ages but there's loads more on there if you wanna hear any of my other playlists.

I also wanted to do a shout out to this song by my friend Jodie's band Jodie & The Makins which I think encapsulates a lot of things in the book, especially "Update my blog in fast food restaurants" (I just forgot to put it in the playlist) (Yes I drew the art)

So back to talking about the book: there's way too much to say about it to go into full detail, I mean it's been out for ages now, or at least it feels like it. But I guess if you wanted to know more about it you could read about it here on my publishers website and here is a fun video I recorded with my iDoL Laura Dockrill:

It was an honour to meet Laura and we had the best time making this video. I have had so many lucky opportunities since (and including) the book.

Last week I got to go to Birchwood Library and eat pizza and make mini-books with a great bunch of kids. There's some stuff about it here on the Hot Key Blog but I also have some photos. I was terribly nervous but everyone was just lovely and it was really fun and relaxed- they sneakily videoed me being asked some questions, too, which you can see here :-) I'm kinda glad I didn't know because I would have been more nervous!

 My "mini book"

Mini books by the kids...

I also had the great opportunity to be featured in the Independent as "one to watch" (where I got a proper photo shoot and all!), made the Christmas present idea list in the Daily Express, and got into the Foyles online kids top 10 chart. It's been so surreal! Oh and "This Is Cheshire" - woo! Also a big thanks to all the wonder, kind reviewers online who have made everything less scary by actually LIKING it. I love you guys the most.

Merry Christmas everyone, and a happy new year. I hope you get some of the luck I have had this year!
Issy xxx

ps. I hope this wasn't showy-offy???? I am just trying to document things a bit better.

pps. I only ever post anything on here at night don't I. Sorry.


  1. Really enjoyed the video with Laura Dockrill and I loved your book!

  2. Super exciting, it's good to document things that have happened :) Not showoffy at all. Loved watching the videos of you talking about drawing and your book :)