Natalie C Page

Author of YA, MG and Children's fiction


November 2015

Literary accessories

many books

In times when things are challenging, I like to try and focus on something positive. Yes, this is my author website and I like to develop posts regarding writing and what is happening with my own projects. However, I am still a woman, and what woman doesn’t appreciate beautiful handbags? Now, don’t worry. My post still has a literary theme, and in the run up to Christmas, it may even give you some inspiration for either yourself or the female (or male) literary lover in your life.

I recently came across a very talented designer who has made what might just be the ultimate literary accessory. Introducing, The Book Clutch.

I took the opportunity to ask the lovely Maria (developer of The Book Clutch) a few questions about her exquisite creations. Check out some of her answers below as well as some images of her stunning book clutch bags made under the name of By M.


Interview with Maria Marigliano Caracciolo

1.) How did By M. start? 

The story started a great number of years ago in the heart of the old city of Naples where you can find my family’s home, called Palazzo Marigliano which is now part of the National archives. The street where the palazzo is located is named “Via san Biagio dei Librai” which translates to the Street of Saint Blaise, protector of the booksellers. Everything in the neighborhood was inspired by the cultural heritage of precious book binding.  Nowadays, with the economic crisis and the encroachment of modernity, most of the traditional little bookshops have unfortunately not survived, but the area is still full of old world charm.  Located in what used to be our stables, you can still find one of the best bookbinders of Italy – The Antica Legatoria Artigiana.

My love for books basically started before I was born! Naples has also a strong tradition of elegance and tailoring “sur mesure”: so a couple of years ago, I combined our book binding tradition as well as our fashion tradition to create a bespoke book clutch, made using only ancient tools, imagination and centuries of passion! At the same time,  it is a philanthropic mission to preserve beautiful traditions and help the families of the craftsmen who are working hard to maintain this tradition in hard economic times.

2)The book clutch was your first collection, what inspired you to create such a unique style of bag?

Ancient Books are part of my personal and cultural heritage. Despite my international background, and my current life moving between Rome and London, I have always kept a very strong link with Naples.  All my life I wanted people from abroad to discover the culture and the beauty of my native town.Through my 100% ‘made in Naples’ creations I am enticing the world with some of the the Neapolitan fantasy and savoir faire.  There is still a long way to go, but it is fun and everybody in the palazzo is very happy about this adventure!

3) How did you go about finding suppliers and bringing your vision to life?

By M. book clutches are created according to a century long tradition, using only the finest leather, silks and gold leaves. My suppliers work in my court yard so for me it was easy to work with the team as I grew up with them and know each one personally. They were a little too conservative in the beginning  and skeptical about the idea of turning a book into fashion accessory but now i think they enjoy it a lot!

Every step of a book clutch’s construction is done by hand – exactly like the books of past centuries. We do not use any electrical devices.  Even the gold decoration and lettering is done by hand. The artisans impress the  letters and the decorations on the leather using the traditional Gold Leif technique. To decorate your book clutch, By M. offers a large selection of original tools and filigrees from the bookbindery, dating back two centuries. Every single detail of a client’s book clutch is the result of a considered and informed choice.


4)Some of your book clutch bags have found their way into some famous closets, can you tell us a little about some of your VIP clients and which books they chose?

We have been lucky enough to create bespoke bags for Cara Delevingne (Alice in Wonderland); Poppy Delevingne (The Princess and the Pea) and the Royal Princess of Monaco Beatrice Borromeo (Teresa Batista Cansada de Guerra) to name a few!

5) If you could only choose one title to have on your own book clutch, what would it be ?

Il gattopardo – the leopard, because it’s the story of my people plus a great romance.

6) What is your favourite thing about being a designer?

I like the personalization we are able to offer our clients. Every detail of the book clutches can be personalised according to preference, from the colour and material to the decoration and of course, the title. On the back cover, we use the Latin “EX LIBRIS”, the reader’s name can be pressed in gold underneath. I think our products are more than a fashion. The finished bag represent a true expression of ourselves in an ironic, impudent and sophisticated way that  conventional ‘fashion’ doesn’t often allow.

7) What’s next for By M. ?

We are going to be expanding to the middle east!

8) Sum up your bags in three words

ironical, intellectual, chic!

If you would like more information about these beautiful bags, visit


Zak and Jen-the inspiration

Zak and Jen Flying

As I have mentioned many times before, next year will see the release of my debut children’s book. The title is a close secret at present, but several people have suggested that it might be nice to talk about the inspiration for the book and the process I went through.

It all started when I saw some oil paintings Chris had done. He had painted these simple, yet striking characters against a beautiful starry backdrop and my imagination went into overdrive.

I was speaking to him one day and commented how I would love to create a story around the characters, he told me he had actually been looking for a writer to work with. The decision was made right there.

It is no secret that I work best in the early hours of the morning. One night, when I was up trying to settle my daughter, the characters came to life in my head. I started seeing the pair flying across the night sky, floating underneath a magic umbrella, travelling to magical worlds and having all kinds of adventures. It was clear to me then, this pair were travelers, adventurers. The words for the story literally flowed out of me onto the page that night, and within 30 minutes I had a first draft (not every story is as easy!)

But I wanted the story to be more than just an adventure to a wonderful place, I wanted there to be an opportunity for learning. I knew from speaking to other parents that they were often looking for books which conveyed some kind of message. Some books had a moral to be extracted, others dealt with a key issue like bullying or bereavement.

You will have to wait for the book to see which direction I took, but feedback from a test group of friends, family and contacts has been positive which is a good sign!

The images in the book (some of which you may have seen) have deviated slightly from these original paintings. However the essence remains the same and both Chris and I are more than excited to share the full work with everyone.

In terms of the characters themselves, I took inspiration from people I have met and also the type of message I wanted to convey. One of the characters is more patient, deliberate and thoughtful. The other is more impulsive, fiery and adventurous. They compliment each other perfectly.

In some of my posts you may have seen me mention that we have already begun working on books two and three. The plan is to reveal more of the character’s personalities whilst still enabling them to explore the galaxy in their own special way.

I look forward to the day when we can announce the book is available for pre-order, but we have no news on that front… yet!

In the meantime, here is the second image that inspired me to write this story.

Blossoms growing on Jens planet



Marketing and promotion – dos and don’ts

Things have been insanely busy lately, and not necessarily on the writing front (sadly). It can sometimes be so frustrating when life gets in the way of doing something you enjoy, or you simply don’t feel creative enough. I have had a few days like that in the last couple of weeks.

Despite that, I have managed to focus on a few small things to continue the excitement about my upcoming children’s book. In this case, I have been thinking about marketing and promotion.

Since the book has quite a specific audience I have been looking into local schools and libraries and have even been researching bloggers, podcasters and journalists that might be interested in receiving a copy. I have also been watching a children’s book group I am part of on Facebook with interest. Specifically, I have been looking at what people post, seeing what works well and what can come across as simple spam. It got me thinking, what is it that makes one book more successful than another? Is it just the quality of the writing or the illustrations? Perhaps, although from what I have seen it is much more than that. A book takes on a life of its own when it is released into the world, and in order to send it on it’s way, it is in the author’s best interests to put in the work and make sure people know it is there. One thing I have read again and again from publishers / editors is that publishing houses only have a small finite amount of time to spend on promotion for each author. If you think about how many books these guys need to support and it begins to sink in that in many ways, the success of your book will rise and fall on its marketing and promotional strategy. You can have the best writing style in the world, but if no one knows your book is there, how can you expect it to sell?

I have been blessed to meet lots of extremely talented authors through my recent interactions on Twitter, most of whom have already travelled this path and undoubtedly have some stories to share. So I put this to all the authors out there, what are you top tips for successful book promotion? Is there anything you would definitely do? Is there anything you wish you had done? What would you avoid?

Post your answers in the comments below, it would be great to compile a list of top tips!



A poem of Remembrance

They risk their lives so you sleep safe,               In times of peace and war.
They risk their lives so you can keep,
A roof above your floor.

They never ask for thanks or praise.
Just one small day a year.
To spend 5 minutes, take some time,
Or even shed a tear.

It is an honour to those that fight,
To keep all families safe.
So remember when you’re home at night,
Someone else is working late.

Just think before you moan and whine,
How bad your day has been.
Whatever happened can’t compare,
To some of the things they’ve seen.

So wear your poppy, take the time,
It isn’t asking a lot.
To honour those who gave their lives,
And gave you, what you’ve got.

Lest we forget.

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