The Inner Sanctum

Check out Calypso’s fashion tips where you can catch excellent ideas on how to be boarding school chic.

Ever thought of becoming a writer yourself? Take a look at the How to become an author interview, where Calypso asks Miss Tyne O’Connell all the questions.

St. Augustine’s Boarding School for Ladies is a bonkeresque place. To find your way around check out the map or use the Glossary of Britishisms, the mad latin phrases, and the list of Fencing Terms to stay in the know …

Brave enough to find out which character you are most like? Check out the Quiz

Smart enough to take on the challenge of Calypso’s crossword? Sister Regina loves it.

For my friend’s and my feverishly fantastico guide to midnight feasts then click midnight feasts

…and see Calypso’s Top Ten Tips to find the secrets on how to pull a Prince (although to be honest I really don’t know how I manage to stop blurting enough to pull anyone.)

….and check out the new blog athttp://calypsochronicles.blogspot.com/

Map of St. Augustines

St. Theresa’s Convent – hang-out for a fair few cute nuns

Priest’s house – hang-out for the parish priest

Nun’s Cemetery – hang-out for a fair few dearly departed nun’s

Chapel – place for a Sunday morning nap

Puller’s Hill – the legend continues…

Puller’s Wood – you ‘ve pulled here or you’re not breathing

The Marshes – escape route when going clubbing in London

Pet Cemetery – Where many a former fluffy rabbit rests in peace

How to become an Author

An interview with Miss Tyne O’Connell – by Calypso Kelly

Calypso: Miss O’Connell, Kirkus Review has declared you, the Brit Lit Goddess! When did you first realise that you wanted to be a “lit goddess?”

Miss O’Connell: You mean an author?

Calypso: Erm okay well an author then Miss O’Connell?

Miss O’Connell, I first knew I had to become an author when I read Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford (around age 7)and realised that I could earn a living writing about my own experience. Also, my teacher in fifth class said “Miss O’Connell, you WILL be an author!” She was quite fearsome. I didn’t want to cross her.

Calypso: What advice would you give aspirant writers?

Miss O’Connell: Read, read, read and read and then write, write, write and write. Enter competitions. Check the acknowledgements in the back of your fave books for the name of the author’s agent. Google them, get their address and write a a short to the point letter laying down your idea for the book you want to write and ask them if they’d be prepared to see a partial.

Calypso: I mean I know it is hard work being an author but is it possible to be an author and still have time for pulling fit boys?

Miss O’Connell: Pulling Fit boys (and shopping and partying) are all vital pastimes for aspirant writers. The important thing is to stay objective. Everything a writer experiences becomes grist for her writer’s mill.

Calypso: What other experiences do you think are important for writers?

Miss O’Connell: Think of a writer’s life as an artist’s palette. Travel, relationships, friends, and new shoes – all these bring colour and life to your writing. You must make your characters real and your friends and family your characters. Or, as they say in writer’s paradise, “nothing is sacred, everything is sacred.” Oh, and always be as nice as you possibly can. You never know when you’re in the company of someone who might hold the key to your future.

Calypso: Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword?

Miss O’Connell: Absolutely darling, the laptop is far mightier than the sabre. You can bring one man to his knees with a sword but you can bring down a kingdom with the written word.

Calypso: Describe a typical writing day for Tyne O’Connell?

Miss O’Connell: OMGA – Must I? It’s awfully unglamorous, darling.

Calypso: It would be so cool if you would erm, it’s sort of something people are tres, tres interested in. I mean, that is to say, I am interested.

Miss O’Connell: Well prepare yourself to be horrified darling and don’t say I didn’t warn you. I wake up and after half an hour of untangling myself from my duvet and watching the news on the plasma tv over my fireplace, I head straight for the espresso machine (still in jim-jammery) and brew four shots which I take to my desk or my bed. I usually respond to emails and then get embroiled in my latest book. After eight hours of this carry on I collapse. I take a bath, change, throw my entire wardrobe on my bed and compose an outfit around my favourite heels and jewels. Then I go back to work until my dinner date for the evening and on to a nightclub where I misbehave, come home, wonder who deposited my wardrobe on my bed. Write a bit more, snuggle up to my laptop and grab some sleep. And I mean GRAB!

Calypso: Do you write everyday?

Miss O’Connell: Darling, you can’t make a living from writing if you don’t – though on a Sunday I rarely do more than a few hours at the keyboard.

Calypso: Who are your favourite authors.

Miss O’Connell: Nancy Mitford and Jane Austin, Dorothy Parker, Edith Sitwell, Meg Cabbot. And I adore, Shakespeare, Ernest Hemmingway, Eveyln Waugh, Thackeray, Henry James, William Burroughs and loads of other boy writers too but I refuse point blank to read books written by boys after the 1970’s because I just think its sooo tragic that most books are bought by women and written by men. Reading books written by women darling, that’s my campaign.

Calypso: You have travelled loads and lived in all sorts of magnifique locations like Cairo and France. Do you write when you are abroad?

Miss O’Connell: Darling, a writer is always on duty. Have laptop – will travel. Even if I’m ill I will take my laptop to bed to write a few sulky paragraphs of prose. Many a morning I wake up with my keypad impressed on my cheek. The motto of the author is, I write, therefore I live.

Calypso: What formal study do you recommend for aspirant authors?

Miss O’Connell: Life! Every event in life has the arc of a good story. From the morning commuter disaster, every disappointing email and text, even the struggle with pretentious shop staff who refuse to accept you are a size None-Of-Your-Business. Life is all about arcs, and plot lines are based on life-arcs. Treasure every drama darling, every slight, every letdown, every break-up, every trauma because one day these will be the keys to your success!

Calypso: How did you first get published?

Miss O’Connell: I wrote, I submitted to agents, I was rejected, I wrote some more, was rejected again and then I wrote another book and an editor took me to the Three Greyhounds in Soho (historical literary hangout) and told me she’d like to publish my work. The rest, as they say, was “hard graft”.

Calypso: Is much of your work autobiographical?

Miss O’Connell: Darling, that is the definition of fiction. All a writer has to draw on is herself. Any writer who says otherwise is a bounder and a liar and meaner than mean.

Calypso: Has it been difficult being a mother and a writer?

Miss O’Connell: I’m sure it’s been the most awful strain on my children – they did run away to boarding school and then disappear down the rabbit hole of the KR after all. I suspect if living with me was pure bliss they’d still be living at home. No writers are the most ghastly people, always wrapped up in the dramas of their characters. Real life only holds appeal when it’s got the potential for a good story.

Calypso: Is it hard to be published?

Miss O’Connell: Writing is like architecture – building something out of nothing. You have a dream and then you have to convince your agent to convince an editor that it’s worth building your dream into a reality. It takes a lot of commited people to create a book worhty for the shelves of bookstores.

Calypso: Do you think writing is a charming career choice for a girl?

Miss O’Connell: Yes.

Calypso’s Fashion Tips

Darlings, humblest apologies for my tardiness in putting togetter the TREND TIPS COLUMN. But at last I have persuaded my most worshipful style icon “Trendsetter and Literary Luvvie!” (DAILY MAIL) Cordelia to share her savv secrets. In an interview in April 2006 she laid out her Goddess-like understanding of street chic. You can write in toaskcalypso@calypsochronicles.com if you want more style tips or have any questions for my boarding school Teen Icon, Cords.

“I really love setting trends. My Christmas present was a sewing machine and I’m always customising things I’ve bought in High Street stores like Topshop to make them unique.

When I’m at school, we slouch around in casual stuff but when we go out to parties, there is quite a bit of competition to see who can come up with the most unusual look. I’d call my style elegant with a cherub twist.

I go off piste to avoid that whole Sloane-Clone look. I’m a big fan of granny chic. My grandmother’s made me some cool shawls and I also do a bit of knitting.

I’ll look to the catwalk and get inspiration to make things, buying cheap fabrics from markets that would cost a bomb in a department store. I had a great pair of green strappy sandals made in Thailand which I designed myself.

My biggest thrift tip would be to do the High Street in the sales and buy reduced price stuff even if it doesn’t fit and adjust it with the sewing machine.

Now that I take the same shoe size as my mother – the shoe queen – things have picked up in that department.”

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Boarding School Life

Everything you wanted to know about boarding school and weren’t afraid to ask.

Lots of girls ask me about going to boarding school in England and so for what it’s worth here’s my advice. If you’re in the States check out the Right School website http://www.rightschool.com/

Now for my advice: first off let me insist that everything in my books is virtually like fiction! Even some of the names have been changed! Boarding school is, as all girls who read my books and board know, is pretty much like I describe it in the series only cooler. You don’t have rentals breathing down your neck and at least while you are at school you can forget about their mad problems. Also you don’t have to commute and you get more time to hang out with your friends.
That’s another popular question – will I miss my friends and family? No, you won’t. If you do you can go home but I bet you won’t!
At boarding school you kind of have to get along with everyone (even the Honeys of this world) because like family they’re not going anywhere in a hurry. More importantly one day you might want to borrow their lip-gloss or some really cool skirt of theirs. I think boarding school is more tolerant and easy going but I don’t have any other experience to compare it to really – just the emails I get from readers at askcalypso@calypsochronicles.com

On the down side they work you to death because all schools care about are league tables and squeezing A-grades out of sensitive young minds. Tis tres, tres, difficult at times the strain they put us under. Mind you, I fully intend to do well in my GCSE’s and A -Levels because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life borrowing cool clothes and accessories of my mate-age. And I want to travel business class and work in a job that I quite enjoy.

Loads of USA readers are writing in asking if they would they be better off at a boarding school in the States rather than England which is too much responsibility for an immature girl like moi so I asked Star who is worldy wise and she says “definately come to England! Come over here y’all!” I suspect she’s imagining having more exotic overseas friends she can stay with during the summer breaks to escape the madness of the Dirge Derbyshire Estate. If it’s any comfort there are boarders at English boarding schools from every continent on the earth so I at least you can hang out with your homies on the plane on the way to and from school.
The other question everyone is asking is which school is best? Can they get a scholarship if they’re parents can’t afford fees? And should they go for mixed or single sexed? So my advice is do what everyone else does and check out the Tatler School Guide – it’s on the internethttp://www.tatler.co.uk/Schools/2007/ or in the USAhttp://www.rightschool.com/ Good luck

A day in the life of Tyne O’Connell

1)How does an ordinary day in the life of Tyne O’Connell look like?

I live in a tiny flat in the very heart of London so I walk everywhere. I can’t drive so I sacrifice space – and also I don’t want to leave a big carbon footprint. I wake up and make myself two espressos and go to my desk to write. If my daughter is home from boarding school on holiday she’ll still be asleep so I’ll creep back to bed, open my laptop and start writing under the duvet. After four to six hours I’ll stop for a short break. After I shower and dress I answer Calypso’s fan mail or other email and catch up with my daughter if she’s awake. When she’s home she can sleep for Britain. I’ll go back to work for an hour or two and then go out to early supper with friends. I don’t do lunch or snacks. If my daughter’s home we’ll hang out together unless though usually she’s meeting up with friends. We both like shopping but have wildly different tastes. I go for jeans and perilously high shoes whereas my daughter is much more effortlessly stylish. If she’s home I am much more popular with my family and friends. I go out four evenings a week but I always spend a few hours reading before going to sleep. When Cordelia’s home we’ll chat or watch dvd’s. She stays up late like me. On weekends I like going to the theatre.

2)The Calypso Chronicles are an extremely popular series for the youth with quite an unusual storyline. Rich boarding school kids and handsome princes are not that common in Holland. How did you came up with the idea to write about that?

The boarding school tradition in Britain is much stronger than anywhere else in the world. Because of this there is a long tradition of the good and the great (and the royal) of the world sending their children to be educated here. Princess Caroline of Monaco was educated at my daughter’s school. Boarding schools are full of the children of the famous and the royal. All my three children went to boarding school and yes, I was inspired in part by their stories. Most authors write about what they know. I also wanted to show that even in an extraordinary world teenagers are all driven by the same things. Calypso is an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world who grows to recognise that all the posh and titled girls she’s initially intimidated by are not dissimilar to her. Even princes get nervous about pulling.

3)Calypso is an original name. Did you came up with that yourself? Where does the name come from?

I wanted Calypso to have a name that was indicative of her parents Sarah and Bob’s eccentricity. It is a name Calypso doesn’t like herself – even though it is very pretty name. Calypso wishes she had a less obvious name. The name derives from Greek mythology. Calypso was a daughter of Atlas who lived in Malta and kept Odysseus prisoner for 7 years. Billy refers to this when he says to Calypso in Pulling Princes, “Ah Calypso, she who causes men to be diverted from their goals” This hints to the reader that Calypso is more attractive than she depicts herself.

4)We’ve been told that your daughter attends a boarding school as well. To what extent are the happenings in The Calypso Chronicles based on real life? Are the girls really that rich and arrogant? Do they actually refer to each other as ‘darling’?

Yes, my daughter attends a posh boarding school though she is not a bit privileged having an author for a mother but this has not singled her out for exclusion. Boarding schools are little microcosmic worlds within the real world. Girls have to sleep and eat together. After school there is no escaping the stress of school by going home, so pupils tend to be much closer – more like a family. And every family has its more difficult members. This self reliance breeds a great deal of confidence (take Star for example). Confidence can come across as arrogance but in fact the same insecurities beset all the girls and even privileged girls suffer the same troubles as any teen. Georgina’s bulimia brought on by her parents divorce and Portia’s grief at the loss of her mother expose the girls as far more vulnerable than they at first appear. Lady Portia seems austere and aloof to Calypso initially but that turns out not to be the case. Of course there are exceptions like Honey – the posh toff who makes everyone’s life hell with her stuck up ways. As for calling one another “darling” and saying “yar” most schools and cultures have their own slang, boarding schools are no different.

5) Calypso really loves fencing; a real unusual sport. Why did you choose this (non-girly) sport? How do you know so much about it? Have you done some research or do you practice it yourself?

Fencing is a very European rather than simply English sport and because British boarding schools attract an international set most have their own fencing salles. I did used to fence. My eldest son was captain of his fencing team. It is a very demanding sport and I could see the scope for Calypso beating boys at their own game. Fencing requires balance and skill rather than sheer physical force and while off the piste, Calypso is stuck for what to say, with a foil or sabre in her hand she is brim full of confindence.

6)We heard you’ve also written some books for adults (not published in Holland). What do you prefer: writing books for teenagers or for adults? Why is that?

While my children have been at school I have enjoyed writing teen fiction because I can share my work with them. I don’t see a great deal of difference between writing for adults or teens. I think I am very immature really and very much a girl’s girl. My own mother (now a great grandmother) refers to herself as an antique little girl and still loves all the same things as my daughter and I – shopping, chatting about boys and current trends, discussing the intricacies of what really makes people tick. Even if we’re discussing politics style and amusing anecdotes will be part of the convo.

7) How do you come up with al this inspiration for the books? What is your secret?

My life. I draw all my stories on things that have actually happened to me. This is the best way to stay truthful and real. Whenever I try and write about something outside my own life it rings false.

8) Would you like it if your books would be filmed? Who would you want to give the leading role?

I would LOVE my books to be a film. I’ve even written the script. I would dance around my flat like a mad thing the day productions started. I’d like the girl who plays Calypso to be an unknown actress – someone who could bring Calypso’s adorable insecurities to the screen and really make me tingle.

9) Dueling Princess is the third book in the series. Are you going to write more parts about Calypso, her prince and her boarding school friends?

Yes, there is a follow up book – Dumping Princes and after that, That’s My Prince.

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