I am still waiting for that bit in the movie where the girl gets the makeover. I do not know how to do that stuff. When I pick up an item of clothing in a shop, I don’t know if I’m drawn to it because it’s hideous or beautiful. I have a collection of beautiful fifties style dresses and Irregular Choice shoes in my cupboard, but I barely wear them because I like to walk, and walking requires trainers, and trainers go with jeans, and hoodies are wonderful. So I guess I’m still waiting for my Pretty Woman/She’s All That/Princess Diaries makeover.

A L Michael

A L Michael

I’ve been a vegetarian for a year. I wanted to go veggie for ages, but I’m Greek. Trying to explain to Greek family members that you don’t want to eat meat is pretty difficult. And barbecues become a minefield. I always felt a real obligation not to be an inconvenience to people, and food is such a love language in my family.

I have a ridiculously low attention span. The only thing that doesn’t apply to is books. Anything else, I get bored. TV marathons, board games, conversations. But writing books -I can do it for hours.

I love learning. Which is probably why I’ve only just finished studying. I’ve been doing a masters in creative writing for therapy. I did my research dissertation on how creative writing can be used in recovery from eating disorders. I’m really passionate about changing how we see our bodies, and learning to work with them instead of punishing them or hating them.

I ended up becoming incredibly political this year, and probably alienated a lot of people. I suddenly felt 17 again, when I used to study politics, and had such clear ideas of right and wrong, and how the world could be fixed. As I’ve grown older, life’s become murkier, there’s less right and wrong, there’s a side to everything. But this year, I just felt so persistently outraged by everything. I wanted to be a force for change, and it’s been amazing to see how people come together, how they want to affect change too. It’s given me hope.

I’m really into gin. I know, very in style right now. I never really saw the point before. My dad drinks gin and tonics. My nan drank gin and tonics. And yet, I went to a gin festival this year, and it completely changed my perspective. My partner runs a pub, and he’s a bit obsessed with gins too. I’m currently attempting to create my very own sixties drinks cart. That’s where Cocktails and Dreams, my new book, started. Tasting cocktails and recognising the art and craft that went into them.

I never really wanted to be anything other than a writer. My school tried to explain that wasn’t an option, if I didn’t want to be a journalist, but I carried on anyway. Every job I’ve done has been related to writing. I ran an arts centre, was a creative writing tutor, organised a literature festival...even when I served coffee, I turned that into a blog so I could make sure I was always writing.

I think travel is the greatest thing you can spend your money on. Sometimes you need a holiday with a beach and a ton of books, but I like knowing that when I’ve been somewhere, I’ve learnt something about the history or the culture. Even if that’s just having the memory of sipping Limoncello by a lake, stealing tidbits from a tour guide walk past.

I think creativity heals. Play is important, and the thing that used to scare me about being a tutor was that there were six year olds panicking about entrance exams. Let kids play. They’ve got enough stress ahead of them. And adults need to play too - I think that’s why there’s been such a surge in crafting and adult colouring books. People know they need down time that isn’t just sitting in front of a screen.

I am incredibly awkward in real life. I over think and say the wrong thing and try to sound confident, and then I obsess over something I’ve said for days and weeks and months. Writing gave me a way to express myself without being anxious. And I am so, so grateful for that.

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