First, sell the film rights and wait eight years.

Next, catch a train to Wales.

Debark when you get to Cardiff.  Mind the gap.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be met by a car. Set off down the motorway in a strong east west easterly direction past Llangadocmadog and Llarrythellamb and keep going straight. After a very long interval, leave the motorway and drive back the way you came for an hour or so. Turn left, then right, go straight, then right, then left, then right again until you pass the same four villages twelve times in a row and are insanely carsick. Ask “are we there yet” in a tone of voice that conveys an unwillingness to be kidnapped and murdered.

Remind yourself that the journey is the destination and interrogate your driver about his time in the French Foreign Legion. 

Stop and ask directions. If you can understand the answer, you’re still hours away.

When none of the road signs is intelligible and the lovely lilting accents of the locals entirely obscure the meaning of the place-names so that your only recourse is to nod nonchalantly, mumble something in Mandarin and drive away at speed, you’re getting close.

At this point, stop and buy some Welsh cakes to celebrate (or in case “nearly there” means “you’ll be lucky” in Welsh).

Pass through Eglwyswrw and Cwmtwrch Ynysybwl, Eglwysfach, Bwlch, Yr Wyddgrug, Machynlleth, Llyn Clywedog, Ynys Hif, Llanbrynmaer, Llwynpia.

Make a three point turn, narrowly avoid a platoon of Welsh Guards running up a mountain, grinning, with pianos on their backs. Your driver will look morose and say, “I really miss doing that.”

When you finally arrive, you’ll see the most amazingly beautiful house overlooking How Green were my Valleys on all sides.

Dogs and dog wranglers and goats and goat wranglers and child actors and child actor wranglers and about 1000 other incredibly busy tech types will fly past as you peer around and attempt to become…invisible.

Watch the monitor for take 43 while the dog handler hisses, “speak Diesel!” and an insanely articulate ten year old babbles improvised dialogue and three poised boys radiate exactly the quality you always imagined they’d radiate and the loveliest actress you’ve ever seen looks a bit confused and non-plussed and angry and vulnerable all at once which is clearly what makes her such a great actress, and then think to yourself,

Here we are at last.



20 thoughts on “Directions to the film set of How I Live Now

  1. Shelley Souza 7 years ago

    So very happy for you, Meg. xxxs

  2. Lia Keyes 7 years ago

    What an adventure! You did make me laugh! Enjoy the ride, Meg. So well-deserved. I really look forward to watching the film when the time comes.

  3. Carly Bennett 7 years ago

    Good grief, I can’t ruddy wait to see it!

  4. jackie 7 years ago

    If you really were in Eglwyswrw you were not so far from me, Ms Rosoff, and in a place I wanted to live as I knew I would never be able to spell it, no not in a million years.

  5. Hannah Parry 7 years ago

    I can’t imagine how excited you must be! Enjoy every minute.

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      I am excited but quietly. You never know with films, so many good ones come and go — everyone thinks it’s life changing, but mainly I’ve just loved following the process and seeing the amazing director and producers and writers and kids at work. It’s such an education watching a book change into a film. So much to learn….

  6. Michele 7 years ago

    Aw, Meg. You are so funny. I wish I was there to enjoy all your success with you. Have fun and enjoy your journey! I am so happy and proud of you, my friend. xoxo MM

  7. Mieke Zamora-Mackay 7 years ago

    I loved the town names. I can’t wait to see the film version of How I Live Now.

  8. Jody 7 years ago

    Astounding, clever, funny, wonderful description. Bravo.

  9. Cate 7 years ago

    Next time you travel west can you go a little further and pop over to Dublin and sign my copy of HILN. Ever been?

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      I come to Dublin as often as humanly possible (ie, whenever anyone invites me) and I always have the most wonderful time. David? David Maybury? Are you listening?

  10. Alison Falconer Hall 7 years ago

    Hope your journey is more straight-forward on Wednesday! Really looking forward to hearing you speak again especially if it is this amusing.

  11. jane L kelly 7 years ago

    Meg Your How I Live Now has beeen put on the Leaving Cert Exam ,same as A Levels. Well what do you think of that?????
    I will be attempting to teach it to a class of 17year old students mixed boys + girls this September.
    I am looking forward to introducing the book to them, not the film which I will keep until after the book is don in class
    Now how about that
    Love your dogs

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      Fantastic! Thanks for letting me know, Jane. If your kids figure out what it all means, the subtle symbolism, etc. do let me know!

  12. Laurel 7 years ago

    Hilarious description of the journey! I am so happy for you, Meg, and so excited to see the film. Since HILN is my favorite YA book EVER, it’s a dream come true.

    Years ago I chose it for my middle school book discussion club, although I knew it was more “appropriate” for the 8th graders than the 6th graders. But they loved it, too, despite saying “Eww” about the cousin issue….

  13. lucy 7 years ago

    Did you get to see the youngens in action? Just would love to know about their acting abilities and how well they act with each other. Im just nosy.

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      They were magnificent. All wonderful actors and just the worlds friendliest, sweetest, most unpretentious kids. I was bowled over by their ability to do what looked like almost nothing but held buckets of emotion. Over and over and over. And as for getting on together, they were like a little family. It’s enough to bring tears to a person’s eyes!

  14. Sandra Davies 7 years ago

    Had to stop reading halfway through because I was so much reminded of us coming back from a one and only holiday wth my parents and two small children in Wales and diverting up the valleys to avoid Cardiff’s football match traffic. The game would have been long over by the time we emerged, traumatised and ten years older …

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