My West London Life

Tom Fletcher

February
8

Children's author and McFly singer-songwriter Tom Fletcher talks about Brain Freeze being chosen as a World Book Day title, writing strategies and his fascination with time travel

Could you tell us a bit about your World Book Day title? What inspired you to create it?

My World Book Day book is called Brain Freeze and is about a girl who discovers she can freeze time if she eats enough ice cream. Not only that, she realises that using her Gramps’ old ice-cream van she can travel through time!

I’ve always loved time travel stories and movies. My band McFly is named after Marty McFly from Back to the Future, so I’ve always had a fascination with time travel—and everyone loves ice cream!

When and why did you start writing?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. Since I was a kid. I have been writing for my own enjoyment throughout my whole career as a musician and eventually it evolved into something more serious… and by serious I mean writing stories about a dinosaur that poops stuff. The first book I wrote was There’s a Monster in Your Book, although I had many books published before that one was eventually released.

What was your favourite childhood book growing up?

Of all the books I have read, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had the biggest impact on my life. The whole series just sucked me in and it was the first time I really understood how you can become lost in a world inside a book.

If you were to recommend one book to read this year, what would it be?

I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction, which I really enjoy. I thought Timmy Failure was hilarious. I also only recently read Skelleg and thought that was incredible!

What advice would you give to any budding writers on how to start writing a book?

Write. Don’t wait. Just write as much as you can (and read, obviously).

If you could be any literary character in the world, who would it be and why?

I would be James, the boy in The Snowman. Doesn’t every kid wish their snowman would come to life and take them flying? I still find that book so magical.

What’s your fondest memory of reading from when you were a child?

My parents read to me every night. I loved story time. They made it magical and fun. Dr Seuss, Raymond Briggs, the classics! My dad also made up stories about a dragon, which were brilliant.

What do you think makes a good story?

My emotions usually let me know. I cry at books that aren’t even that sentimental. Sometimes it’s just a clever line or a really satisfying plot idea that I didn’t see coming. I get a bit teary and that’s how I know. Although, I do tend to find enjoyment in most things I read. It’s very rare I won’t finish a book and by the time I’ve got to the end there’ll be something good to be found.

Do you always know what the ending will be when you start to write a book? How long does it normally take you to write one?

I definitely like to know the end before I begin. I don’t mind not knowing all the exact details but I am a fan of planning the story out enough so I have key checkpoints to hit, but still allowing myself the freedom to change those along the way if I want to.

I can write a first draft in about three to four weeks if I have solid writing time. It’s harder now having two children and I write more in the evenings when they’re in bed, so it takes a little longer.

www.worldbookday.com/book/brain-freeze

Master trainer Sandy Macaskill shares fitness tips from Barry’s Bootcamp

August
16

With summer in full swing, we catch up with Barry’s Bootcamp master trainer Sandy Macaskill for some expert fitness tips, as well as a glimpse into a typical day in the life of

What is a typical day for you at Barry’s Bootcamp?

So the best part of my job is there’s no typical day really. Take the other day – I taught my morning class, jumped into a meeting with my managers, rushed off to row on the Thames for a charity event, literally got taken off the boat in the middle… Read more →

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie and John Bristow, BBC Proms

August
3

In celebration of this year’s BBC Proms, The Ivy Kensington Brasserie has partnered with Josh Bristow, a London-based artist and illustrator. Hosted at the nearby Royal Albert Hall, on display will be a selection of intrinsically designed bunting, created by Josh Bristow and inspired by Kensington, its iconic landmarks, the BBC Proms and wonders of London

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Chertsey, Surrey, and grew up there which gave me lots of great memories.

Where are you based now?

I live in Weybridge in Surrey now. I have just bought my first flat which I am so proud of. It’s a great location as it has fast trains into London and… Read more →