Off and On the Map

How much do I adore the cover that Atom’s fabulous designers have come up with for This is Not A


Love Story?  The heart is cut out from a map of Amsterdam, so immediately I checked it out to see how many key locations in the book are covered.

The book is about three teenagers, Kitty, Theo and Ethan. Kitty and Theo move to Amsterdam, Ethan’s living there already.

Kitty and Ethan’s homes are both on the map. On the right hand side, towards the bottom of the heart is the Pijp district, which is great for bargain-hunting –  there’s a street market running through it and lots of quirky shops. I never lived in the Pijp, but several friends do, and some of them live in Ethan’s house and another lives in Kitty’s block of flats.

Theo’s home isn’t on the map because he lives in Amstelveen, a little town which adjoins the south side of Amsterdam. I spent a lot of time in Amstelveen because my kids were at school there. I thought of sending Theo and Kitty to their school, but instead I invented an English college for them, on the SIngel canal, which is on the heart –  towards the top, centre. Originally the book was going to be called Singel, because it sounds like Single, it means ‘boundary’, and the book is partly about the boundaries of love, and the Singel itself has the romantic flower market at one end and a mini red light district at the other, so it covers all kinds of love. But it looked like a spelling mistake, and we all liked This is Not a Love Story better.

Ethan doesn’t go to school – way too structured for him, and too many people – but he does spend a lot of time in the Vondelpark, which is just off the heart-map – on the lefthand side. And Kitty’s friend Lucy lives on the Willemsparkweg, on the corner of Cornelisschuytstraat which is just south of the park. Lucy’s dad’s flat is the flat where I lived with my family for four years, and it is definitely the nicest place that I will ever live.

The old Jewish area of Amsterdam is the top right corner of the heart, and that’s where Theo goes with his cousin. Some of Kitty’s favourite places are on the map too, the Spiegelstraat, with its antique shops, and Staalstraat, which has a stunning view towards the Zuiderkerk.

Proof copies of TINALS are being printed this week, so next week some should be in the hands of reviewers and booksellers. This is scary – but exciting too. I hope TINALS will inspire some readers to go and explore Amsterdam, and maybe go off the normal tourist map a bit.

I’ve set up a Tumblr to go alongside the book, and it’ll feature pictures of Amsterdam and quotes from the book as we get nearer to publication day on May 7. It’s called Amsterkit and it’s here 

PS –  Some nice news about Salvage. It is shortlisted for The Bookseller’s new YA Book Prize, and the Romantic Novel of the Year, YA section. It is also shortlisted for the Wirral Book Award and the Leeds Book Award.  And last week it was Highly Commended at the North East Teen Book Award, coming second by a slim margin to James Dawson’s  Say Her Name.