Why I wrote Clementine Florentine by Tasha Harrison #ClementineFlorentine

When you’re in a funk, you need poetry and punk!


In an ingenious reverse ‘Parent Trap’, Clementine and her school nemesis Callum, have to work together to break Clem’s dad and Callum’s mum up, before they fall ‘in lurrrvee’ and the two poetry rivals end up step brother and sister!

However, an unlikely friendship with ageing punk icon Lyn Ferno and her chatty pet parrot Viv, helps Clem to start seeing things differently. But by then, is it too late to undo the damage she’s caused?

Why I wrote Clementine Florentine by Tasha Harrison

I’ve always wanted to write books that are funny and entertaining, but also warm, uplifting and hopefully helpful in some way – books that would give young readers a good laugh and a reassuring hug.

Clementine is a confident, bubbly ten-year-old, until the new kid in school, Callum, makes fun of her poem. In an instant she loses her self-confidence and poetry mojo. When her dad starts dating Callum’s mum, Clem is horrified and persuades Callum it’s in both their interests to put an end to their parents’ blossoming romance. But a new neighbour, ageing punk legend Lyn Ferno, helps Clem to see things differently.

Clem is scared of what the future holds for her – a potential step-mum and rival step-brother – so she reacts to her fear and decides to take control of the situation. I think we can all be like that when life takes an uncomfortable turn in the “wrong direction”. It’s hard to trust in life, to believe that we’ll somehow navigate changes and adapt to them – and might even be grateful for them one day. We often just go into fight or flight mode when reality presents us with something we don’t want. But as Clem discovers, you should be careful what you wish for, as trying to control things doesn’t always produce the results you’d intended!

Clem’s actions lead to her experiencing another unpleasant feeling: self-loathing. She causes others pain, and that doesn’t feel good. How do you turn things around? How do you make amends? How can you start to like yourself again? Will things be OK? These are all things I wanted to explore in the story because it helps to understand your emotions as you’re experiencing them, to realise that you’re feeling apprehensive or angry about something, and why that might be. Equally it helps to realise that maybe you’ve not behaved in the most skilful way but, at the same time, to know that just because you messed up, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

Learning how to love yourself, to trust in life, to not believe negative stories you convince yourself about situations or people – these are skills I’m just beginning to learn about of now, in my late forties! I hope that Clementine Florentine, aside from giving kids a good giggle, will give them some reassurance the next time they’re feeling down.

uXiMZH6X_400x400Tasha Harrison is co-director and copywriter for a Brighton-based graphic design agency. Before that she worked as a sub-editor on a range of magazines from glossies to TV guides. Tasha loves writing snappy strap-lines and captivating copy, but also has an incurable weakness for puns, rhymes and alliteration – an occupational hazard that stems from her time editing the soaps pages at The Sun TV Guide.

Her first Young Adult novel, The Reinvention of Rolo Rawlings, was shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2017 and longlisted for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Award 2018. Her latest novel, Middle Grade caper Clementine Florentine, was longlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2018. Tasha lives in Brighton with her husband, two daughters, an incontinent cat and an excitable Labrador with faulty taste buds. @DotDashTash      tashaharrison.com

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