Book Wars: Awfully Big Adventures, for Stylist Magazine

Emily-Ash-Powell-Stylist-Book-Wars-Sept-2018

This piece was originally published in Stylist Magazine on Wednesday 26th September, 2018.

Full text below:

Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

When 23-year-old art student April May stumbles across a strange metal object in Manhattan, she makes a quick video of it with her friend, Andy. She names what she thinks is a sculpture ‘Carl’, posts the video online and thinks nothing of it. The next morning, she wakes to find that it’s gone viral and that New York Carl isn’t a one-off – multiple Carls have appeared in cities all over the world.

Overnight, April’s life is changed forever. Suddenly, she’s one of the most important, high-profile people in the world, having broken an international story (and possibly the world’s biggest news ever). But fame, April soon finds out, isn’t just about being internationally adored. She must now battle scrutiny, online abuse, changed relationships and even radicalism, all while she and other key global figures, including the US president, try to uncover what these sculptures are, where they’ve come from and, ultimately, what they want.

The book’s author has – with the help of his New York Times best-selling author brother John Green – already racked up 8 million subscribers to their YouTube shows, CrashCourse and VlogBrothers. Hank’s solo show, SciShow, led The Washington Post to describe him as “one of America’s most popular science teachers”.

This online success means that Green is expertly equipped to capture April’s overnight fame and how it can take you from being a ‘somebody’ to a ‘someone who “happened” once’

His writing is light-hearted, clever, resonating and funny, tackling socially relevant themes, including the darker side of social media, sexuality, the naivety of youth and media representation. And just as Christelle Dabos does in A Winter’s Promise, he’ll have you caring deeply about his strong-willed female protagonist, while shining a clear, self-aware light on her flaws, too.

Fans of mystery, tension and pop culture references (specifically, the lyrics of Queen), step this way. Get ready to be absorbed in the story, glued to the book and a little more afraid of Twitter.

You can buy the book here, if you so wish.

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On the first day of autumn, my wardrobe gave to me

On the first day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Everything in black and dark green.

 

On the second day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the third day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the fourth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the fifth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the sixth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the seventh day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the eighth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Eight giant cardis

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the ninth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Nine party outfits

Eight giant cardis

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the tenth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Ten massive jumpers

Nine party outfits

Eight giant cardis

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the eleventh day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Eleven knitted dresses

Ten massive jumpers

Nine party outfits

Eight giant cardis

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

 

On the twelfth day of autumn

My wardrobe gave to me

Twelve blanket scarves

Eleven knitted dresses

Ten massive jumpers

Nine party outfits

Eight giant cardis

Seven pairs of black boots

Six leather jackets

FIVE TURTLENECKS

Four pairs of tights

Three black jeans

Two boyfriend coats

And everything in black or dark green.

A selection of things that people who work in startups do

Startups. Cool products, remote working, dogs in the office, ping pong tables, trainers and checked shirt combos, free breakfast and good coffee whilst surrounded by oodles of innovation and brilliant brains. It’s no wonder that they’re are all the rage right now.

From the outside, this work hard/play hard game wrapped up in quirky branding gives much to be desired. On the inside, there’s still all that workplace stuff that everyone hates. It’s just that it’s the startup version. So it’s ok, right? Wrong. Here’s a selection of things that people who work in startups do that if you don’t laugh at, you’ll cry.

1. Storm around the office like an important hurricane, carrying an open laptop in one hand and a KeepCup (full, courtesy of the latest organic coffee subscription service) in the other. Time is important, and it must be optimised. And people must know that your important time is being optimised. So stomp loudly because after all, he who stomps the hardest leaves the biggest footprint on the company, right?

2. Set their Slack status to a super cool and fun emoji that really does just sum up their whole personality. Dinosaur? Edgy. Elephant? Traveller. Cat? Psycho. Popcorn? Banter.

3. Send emails to the social team (cc’ing in their boss and their boss’s boss) about that super-hot-right-now influencer your wife saw on Instagram, putting forward a hugely detailed case study about how you think this would be a great opportunity for the brand if we could somehow collaborate with them. Cue an email from the boss’s boss saying, “great work, Finance Analyst. Social team, can we jump on this one as soon as?”

4. Be a vegan.

5. Laugh uproariously and fire off a departmental email when someone sends work in Microsoft Word. This the future, mate, we use Google Docs now. This company needs real work with real impact arriving in real time. This is collaboration. We’re all collaborators. Are you not collaborative?

6. Bring back some form of sticky snack from a recent exotic expedition to remind everyone of how cool, successful and brilliant of you it is that you and your fianceé just spent three weeks hiking, biking and kayaking in Peru. No one wants your cultured cashews Brian, we can go and buy our own in Tesco.

7. Write everything in lowercase. There is no TIME for punctuation when you’re disrupting the world of [INSERT ‘ALREADY-RUNNING-QUITE-SMOOTHLY THANKS’ INDUSTRY]. Plus, disrupting the grammar rules is cool and edgy too, is it not? All the young people on Twitter are doing it. And all the smoothie brands are.

8. Sport facial hair and/or a man bun.

9. Send emails to the marketing team about how [INSERT OTHER COOL STARTUP HERE] is ‘hacking growth’ right now, so you thought you’d share some of the top tips your PR friend Lucy heard at one of their events last night and Whatsapped you this morning. Cue an email from the boss’s boss saying “great work, People Manager. Marketing team, can we jump on this one as soon as?”

 

So, still fancy it?

I went out with a guy for 2 years and the best thing he taught me was this supernoodle hack

I once dated a boy who led a very sheltered culinary life. He was lovely, he was kind and he made me very happy for a very large portion of my university life. He made me laugh, he made me cry and he also made me some very questionable meals.

As is so often the case of many men who are brought up on their mother’s cooking and no one else’s, his culinary bandwidth was very small. He ate curry from a can, chilli from a tin and soup from a packet. He also ate supernoodles. Frequently.

This meant, naturally, that I did too. Our post-lecture Thursday evening dinner options would consist of the array of Bachelor’s finest flavours found in his kitchen cupboard – an MSG lover’s heaven – that you’d have to climb over several bin bags and teabag mountains to reach.

He’d make a big song and dance over the preparation, each time telling me that there was ‘a total knack to it, Em’ and ‘a secret special way’ to ‘maximise flavour’. This hack, is one of such culinary wizardry, that you’ll wonder whether this article is a confession that I dated one of the hosts of Sunday Brunch.

To this day, if ever I’m in the mood where you just want to eat something entirely unhealthy, uninspiring and guilt-full, I use his hack. And it goes a little something like this:

Supernoodles, student boyfriend style

  1. Select packet of supernoodles from the cupboard stash your mother bought you the last time she came to visit.
  2. Double check the supernoodle instructions, despite having religiously participated in this routine for the last 2 years.
  3. Take the noodles out of the pack, whilst frantically looking round to see if there’s a clean bowl available.
  4. Put the slab of noodles into the now-wet bowl you just rinsed 2-day-old spaghetti bolognese out of.
  5. Punch the noodles, so that they break into quarters.
  6. Boil the kettle, thinking that it would’ve been much better if you’d done this before step 6 in the recipe.
  7. Pour the boiling water over the noodles, wondering how high you can pour it in the bowl before it makes the noodles float.
  8. Mop up spilled water.
  9. Put bowl of noodles in the horrifically stained microwave, without thinking about the last time it was cleaned.
  10. Wait for 4 mins.
  11. Begin to drain water from the bowl, before realising the bowl is burning your hands.
  12. Return to bowl-draining, this time with the last scrap of kitchen role as your fingertip protector.
  13. Once bowl is empty, save for a tiny amount of water at the bottom, give it a stir with a slightly crusty fork.
  14. And here’s the hack. At this point, and ONLY at this point do you add the sachet of flavour powder. If you add it before, like the packet says, you’ll drain away the majority of the flavour in the water, which is just a waste of taste.

So there you have it. Add the sachet last. And as you sprinkle it on like salt bae, take a moment to thank and think of the boy who once drank brine from the tuna can.

Last night I dreamt I was Harrison Ford’s financial advisor

When I’m asleep, my subconscious tends run wild and weave stories so bizarre that I can’t ignore them. I write them down so that here, in Last Night’s Dream, you can read them.


I’m sat on a balcony of a gloriously Greek villa, overlooking a sprawling sea that sparkles under a summer sun. It’s hot, I’m wearing a hat (for both shade and style purposes) and the glass table I’m sat at is hosting a delightful array of breakfast pastries.

The breakfast is exquisite, but that’s not the only reason I’m here. I’m a financial advisor, and accompanying the breakfast on the table is my MacBook and a significant amount of financial records belonging to the client I’m working with, waiting to be discussed and analysed.

I’m drumming my fingers on the glass surface of the table. “What’s keeping him so long?” I wonder, checking my watch. He’s been in the kitchen for over 30 minutes.

With that, my client Harrison Ford hurries out through the balcony doors, carrying a plate of scrambled eggs atop a toasted English muffin.

“I’m so sorry!” he says, putting down the plate with a clatter on the glass. “The first batch weren’t as yellow as you usually like them, so I re-did them for you.”

I settle his worries with a wave of my hand – he really is so silly about this sort of thing. As if I’d really mind about the shade of my scrambled eggs. This is so typical of my client Harrison Ford.

“So Harrison, here’s what we’re going to do. This account you’ve got here – it’s just not doing much for you. We need to invest it in something better, something that’s going to work hard for you and make your money go further. We’re going to invest it in Spotify, ok? Their shares are about to sky rocket, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank when they do.”

My client Harrison Ford looks at me, amazed by my idea as usual.

“I just… I just really don’t know what I’d do without you. I’m so lucky to have you as my financial advisor. My finances have never looked better. And are you still absolutely sure you won’t accept any other payment than just breakfast?”

“No Harrison,” I say with total sincerity, “I’ve told you already. I don’t do this for the money – I do it for the breakfast. Always have, always will.”

The End