Saturday, January 06, 2007

Thinking Pink with Lisa Clark

One of the best presents a writer can get is a subscription to Writer's News.

Not only is it filled with great tips, advice and contacts, there are regular features about writers who've made the jump from 'aspiring' to 'published.'

It's a huge morale boost to see that people just like you can make the break and get into print. Although when you look a little more sharply into the equation, you see some worrying traits all successful writers have that us unpublished souls need to aspire to.

One such writer I first learnt about through Writer's News is local girl Lisa Clark.

Hailing from Portsmouth, Lisa has just seen her first book, Think Pink, published by Harper Collins. Seeing her name in print isn't exactly a new experience for Lisa, though, since she's already an established and prolific writer on paper and online.

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Lisa a few questions about her writing career - and hopefully pick her brains for some tips.

You've got more career hats than most girls have shoes. Who is the real Lisa Clark? Do you see yourself as a writer? A journalist? A web-guru? If they put your pickled head in a museum, like they do in Futurama, which section would you want to be put in?

Not strictly true, I have a serious amount of shoes! If they couldn't put a bit of my brain in each section, I'd say writer-girl. Why? 'Coz technically, that's all I'm doing when I'm creating features for magazines and the website, but I'm so not a web-guru. I have a super-talented friend who I pay to make it all pretty, I just type and upload - it's the perfect set-up!

You're an agony aunt for Mizz magazine. How did you get that gig?

I am and I love it! I'm a qualified youth worker and life coach and wanted to find a way to combine my skills with my writing so I pimped my services to the teen magazines. Mizz were looking for an agony aunt and asked if I'd be interested in applying, I did a test piece, and got it. Go me!

You've also started your own magazine, Rant. Could you tell us a little about that? How exactly do you go about starting your own magazine? We asked Hugh Hefner, but he wouldn't tell us.

How rude is Hugh?

So, Rant is the urban survival guide for and by teens in Portsmouth. I was studying youth culture at Uni and knew I wanted to write for teens, there was nothing that provided young people in Portsmouth with fun, relevant information specifically targeted at them, so I approached Portsmouth City Council about giving young people the reigns to produce their own magazine for their peers.

They were already planning a publication and asked me to get involved. I became the editor and trained young people in journalism - the magazine was, and still is, hugely successful because we tackled real issues that were effecting young people. We caused a whole heap of controversy, got lots of press attention and even beat Channel 4 and newsround to win a media award.

You've also set up an incredibly popular website,, with over 8,000 subscribers. So what's Pink World all about and why do you think it's so popular?

I have and it's just had a new, sparkly-gorgeous makeover - so please go visit!I'd had an idea for a book, Think Pink, and thought it might be a good idea to test both the book and the characters out online to see what the response would be like, so that's what I did. That was 4 years ago.The site has gone through lots of changes since then, but ultimately the ethos is still the same.

Pink-world is the zine I'd always wanted to read. 'Cept no one ever made it, which, is really rather rude. Instead, they made a whole lot of glossy zines that told me how to wear my hair, that size 00 was the new size 10 and that I should have serious life-envy of…well, everyone who wasn't me basically.

Don't get me wrong, I love glossy magazines - I write for them, I heart fashion, make-up and all things celeb, so while Pink-World shouts about my love for over-priced make-up (damn, that stuff is cute.) the secret to it's success, according to the readers, is that it also interviews coolio-a-go-go women who are rockin' at what they do, gives kudos to teen girls who are doing fabulous things and provides a weekly fix of everything a girl needs to feel feisty, fun, fearless and fabulous!

If that's not enough, you've also just landed a two book deal with Harper Collins. Can you tell us a little about Think Pink and what you have planned for the future?

Think Pink is a go-for-it guide for girls narrated by hipster heroine, Lola Love. Filled with everything a girl needs to become feisty, fun, fearless and fabulous - Lola and her kooky clique, The Pink Ladies, banish monotone thoughts of chubby tummies, bad school marks and arguing parents, and replaces them with the most exciting possibilities, because lets face it, life's not a dress rehersal!

The book has loads of questionnaires, quizzes, fun things to do and straight-talking advice and will have readers feeling good, dreaming big, being inspired and living life to the full!

I started work on a story idea about a girl who saw the world through pink-tinted shades about 4 years ago, then when I became an agony aunt and saw how much teen girls hate on themselves, I saw the girl in the pink-tinted lenses I'd been working on in fiction form, as a way to help girls shift their negative perspective. The 1st book is in stores now - v.exciting! The second book is out in June which I'm editing the proofs for right now and I'm working on actually writing books 3 and 4 inbetween!

Pink seems to be a lifestyle choice as much as a colour. What's that all about? How much pink is there in the day-to-day life of the real Lisa Clark?

You're right! When you Think Pink, life is substantially a whole lot sweeter! Pink Thinking is postive thinking.

In the book, Lola has pinked-tinted shades to highlight the benefits of seeing the so-called 'real' world filled with it's constant comparisons, unrealistic media images and a need to strive for perfection, in a different, more positive way. Y'see when you Think Pink, anything is possible. You can live a life filled with thousands of candy-kissed, sunshine moments because you're in control. What's not to love about that?

I wear a LOT of pink too. If I'm having an antsy day where I'm all foot stompin' grumpy, I put on a slick of pink lipgloss, my matching glitter-pink pumps and a variety of pink accessories, and I can't fail to smile at my reflection!

Prolific. Seems to sum you up. How do you find the energy for all these projects? Is it coffee? Too much sugar? What's your secret, dammit?

Shux. I'm blushing.My secret? While chocolate does play a big part in the process, it's Thinking Pink.Seriously.I do what I love, that makes work a whole lot easier and I'm chasing dreams so actually, it never really feels like work, just a celebration of achievements!

The boring bit. How do you go about the actual process of writing? Do you have an office? Do you use a laptop or a gold plated typewriter (like Ian Fleming.) Do you write in the morning, or at night? How do you get into the 'writing zone.'

I'm a huge procrastinator. So before I sit down to work I'll check myspace, my emails, I'll write a blog, I'll even do housework - actually, that's ridiculous, I NEVER do housework.

It's not that I don't want to write, because when I actually start, I can't stop, it's just that whole starting business I have a problem with. To get into the 'zone' I have to sit up at the dining table, put on my huge-ass headphones that shut all the outside noise out and play a killer playlist that I would of put together during the previous procrastination period. I'm a total morning person, and will happily get up at 4.30 to write - after 6pm though I' m a waster, so I'm all about the morning.

My tools of the trade are a cute lil ibook called Martha and a pink notebook. The notebook comes everywhere with me and is filled with ideas and lines and comments which I then type up on my laptop.

Book deals don't just land in people's laps. Since I'm struggling to get my own book published, I have to ask... How did you go about getting published and what advice do you have for anybody trying to see their name in print?

I put together a killer proposal. There are loads of books out there that tell you how and the more professional your proposal, the more chance you'll get of having it read. The proposal took longer than the book to write and I then blitzed both publishers and agents.

I got so many rejections it was ridiculous, but I didn't stop sending it, I believed in it and really thought it could work. In the meantime, I contacted a few of the authors I had interviewed for my website over the previous years and asked if they had any advice for me. Some offered to read it, gave me pointers, I changed a few things and sent them out again.

Eventually, a year into the process, I hit jackpot. An agent wanted to represent me. It took a whole year after that to find a publisher, but HarperCollins bought into the concept and now, a year on from signing the contract, the first book is in the shops!

My advice?

Don't keep talking about it, just write. No excuses. If you want to write, you'll make the time.Be persistant. Ask people in the industry for advice.

Don't give up. Ever.

Well, thanks for that Lisa. I'd never really though pink was my colour, but maybe we should all be thinking a bit pinker from now on.

You can find Pink World here and Think Pink is available from Amazon.

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