My So-Called Life by Joanna Nadin

My So-Called Life

Written by Joanna Nadin

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

A breath of fresh air in teen girls’ fiction and one of the funniest things we’ve read in the Lovereading office this year. Tipped to be the Adrian Mole for today’s teenage girls, My So-Called Life charts the side-splitting consequences of one girl’s quest to inject more drama into her tragically normal life. It captures brilliantly in laugh-out-loud diary style the angst of any teenager. A definite rival for bestselling teen novelists Louise Rennison and Sue Limb. Finally, don’t panic when you’ve finished this one for Rachel’s story will continue in the sequel The Life Of Riley.

Click here to find out more about Rachel Riley herself in her very own website!


My So-Called Life by Joanna Nadin

Rachel Riley is the offspring of a depressingly unbroken home. Her mum and dad refuse to let her have a mobile phone, and have banned Ribena (too purple) and Eastenders (too common). It is time to change things. Rachel resolves that this year she will become tragic, literary and interesting - and will win the heart of Justin, the lead guitarist.

About the Author

Joanna Nadin

Joanna Nadin was born in Northampton in 1970. She is a former broadcast journalist, government speechwriter and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. She has written several award-winning books including the bestselling Rachel Riley diaries and the young adult novel Wonderland for teen readers. She was voted one of the UK’s top ten ‘Queens of Teen’ in 2008 and in 2010. She grew up in Saffron Walden, Essex, home to her alter ego Rachel, and now lives in Bath with her daughter. She also writes for younger readers and one such title is Spies, Dad, Big Lauren and me which is perfect for 10+ year olds.


How did you start writing?

Because I love it. Because I have to. It’s like asking Wayne Rooney why he plays football. Not that I’m Wayne. I hope not, anyway.

I write most days, from nine in the morning, until about three, in my office, which looks out over the roofs of Bath and the hills behind. So actually I so spend too much time staring at the view.

I look at the view, and if that doesn’t work, I watch old films, and TV box sets, and read other books. Or sometimes I just eat cake.

Keep a diary, because it helps you to get into the habit of writing every day.

I can sing the books of the Bible off by heart.

Never underestimate the comedy value of a monkey.

Joanna Nadin talks about her new series for younger readers. The series begins with Spies, Dad, Big Lauren and me.

What made you want to write the book?

In a small sense, as I have gone through a marriage break-up, as Billy’s mum does. And Billy’s little brother does bear a striking resemblance to my own irritating one.

Who is your favourite character in the book?

When Big Lauren gives Billy’s mum a makeover. That’s all I’m saying.

Joanna Nadin also writes for teen readers. Here she talks about her series featuring Rachel Riley

1. What inspired you to write the series?

The family is loosely based on my own. Though I stress the word loosely. My mother is not that manic (quite) although my brother is that pedantic. Also my Cornish relatives do not live on Fray Bentos (though my Grandma Nadin, rest her soul, did, along with Viennetta, out-of-date twiglets and Supermousse). The Kylies are entirely fictional, though certain “hard” girls may recognise aspects of themselves, notably the badges for sexual favours. The dog is also fictional, as my mother would not let us have one on grounds of poo and moulting.

2. Describe it in two lines?

Tragically normal teenager tries to make life less Enid Blyton and more Julie Burchill and in process gets vomiting dog, loses best friend and has uncle called Jesus.

3. How long did it take you to write?
About three years of pondering then five months of actual writing, whenever I could squeeze a few hours when I wasn’t playing with lego or writing speeches on the shipping industry.

4. What do you think people will say about this book?

6. Did you keep a diary? Do you still?

7 November 1985

9 November 1985

7. If you could sneak a peek at anyone’s diary, whose would it be?

I think my teenage years were an endless succession of embarrassingly naïve incidents. The Karl Marx / Marx Brothers mix-up actually happened. But not until I was 16. Which is utterly shameful.

Accident really. What I dreamt of was winning the Grand National or being Babe in Dirty Dancing. But what I was better at (not owning a pony or having any dancing skills) was writing. I have written everything from radio news bulletins to TV scripts for puppet worms to John Prescott’s agony column, and I still write speeches for Ministers. It is much easier than writing for teenagers.

Judy Blume. We used to read them out loud on the school field together and they provided essential snogging advice. But that was about the limit to teen fiction then so we quickly progressed to Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele.

Absolutely. While typing scripts all day in a sort of cellar underneath Alastair’s office was not entirely glamorous, it is always exciting working to deadlines, as part of the news cycle, whether as a journalist or for the people who are making the news. And walking up to the front door of No 10 every day never lost its appeal. It was a huge privilege to work in such an amazing building and to meet some of the people I did.

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288 pages


Joanna Nadin
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Oxford University Press

Publication date

7th June 2007





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