JENNY MCLACHLAN spent thirteen years of her life teaching English: a job that combined her passion for the written word with her passion for showing off. It also provided her with the inspiration for her books. In the summer of 2014 she became a fulltime writer.
Jenny lives by the seaside with her husband and two small but fierce girls. In addition to writing, she enjoys exploring the South Downs, running and, if it will embarrass her husband enough, jiving in any vaguely suitable situation.
The Best 80s Teen in the World…Ever!
Guestpost by Jenny McLachlan
Within Love Bomb, are six letters written by Betty’s mum, Lorna. Quite quickly, I decided that I would make Lorna almost the same age as me so that my own vivid memories of a being a teenager in the 1980s and 90s could become Lorna’s. Her letters are full of things that actually happened to me (the tragic embarrassing things) and things that I wish had happened to me (the cool magical things).
Although I’ve never been able to remember stuff like times tables, names and spellings, I have a spookily good memory for trivia from my past. I can remember exactly what the Tampon Lady wore when she came to do a talk at my secondary school (a fluffy white jumper), what earrings I ill-advisedly put on for non-school uniform day in year Eight (large wooden parrots) and my first Sixth Form party (think DMs, Jamiroquai, boys with ‘curtains’ and the heady scent of Bodyshop Dewberry perfume).
Nothing takes me back to the 1980s quite like a sickly sweet scent that induces nausea. I can’t think about being at secondary school without remembering the background aroma of girls drenched in Impulse, White Musk, Fuzzy Peach and Dewberry. Nowadays, toilet air fresheners have the effect of Proust’s tea-dipped madeleine and instantly zap me back to that distant era when nothing was open on a Sunday, you had to ask your parents’ permission to use the phone (and pull it out into the hallway) and attaching totally unnecessary braces to your skirts and trousers – and allowing one brace to slip off your shoulder – wasn’t insane, but actually quite cool.
I can also remember the emotional turmoil of being a teenager with chilling clarity. Like Betty’s mum, I was a ‘late starter’ and I can recall the rising panic I felt as I watched my friends wave their little plastic Tampon cases around (given out free by the Tampon lady), discuss who they fancied and arrange to meet up on a Friday night ‘under the pier’. What happened under the pier?! Probably nothing more sinister than eating chips and throwing stones at an empty can of Tango, but in my head ‘under the pier’ was more depraved than Dante’s inferno.
I loved writing Lorna’s letters and travelling back to a pre-mobile phone era. Although some aspects of teenagers’ lives have altered beyond recognition (camera phones…can you imagine?!), the core concerns remain unchanged:
- Kissing: who, where, when, how?
- Friends: love them; hate them.
- Parents: So. Annoying.
I suspect that just like me when I was thirteen, teenagers a hundred years from now will still be driven to a blind rage simply by watching their mum drink a cup of tea. Sip. Slurp. Gulp. ‘Ah!’
Betty Plum has never been in love. She’s never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it’s like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid’s arrows. It’s like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!
More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn’t died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that’s when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about …
Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?