Showing posts from November, 2016

Two Years You’ll Never Forget - Guest Post by Marie-Louise Jensen

It can be tricky to pinpoint the moment when you first had an idea for a book. And with my Sixth Formers , I didn’t even plan to write a book. I just sat down to write a scene, based on an amusing anecdote my son had told me.   At first, I didn’t have the voice right and I was disappointed with how it came out. But instead of putting it aside, I kept trying. Over the next week or so, I played with different characters and ideas. I still didn’t plan to write a novel. And then one afternoon, I tried writing first person in the voice of a teen boy character I’d created and suddenly voice, story and concept all came together and I was completely hooked. I’m normally a historical fiction author, with a number of teen and 9-12   novels traditionally published by OUP and Fiction Express. I love stories set in the past. But every now and then, you need variety. For me, Sixth Formers was a huge change, and it was as refreshing as a cool shower on a hot day. I had, after all, just

The Post Apocalyptic: N M Browne

I am writing this on the day after the US election. I am scared and upset and all those things that you Image from Artificial Intelligence: A.I. would expect a left-leaning feminist who wants a more inclusive society and a peaceful, functional world would feel. There is a lot more I can say but this post is not about politics or at least not this kind. No, what I have realised is how much culture matters. How the narratives we tell ourselves shape our world view. Stories of uncouth maverick outsiders who destroy corruption paved the way for Trump, just as all the books in which men do things and women don’t, may have made it harder for some people to see that the President of the United States could be a woman. It wasn’t just that of course. I can’t do anything about globalisation or the decline of the fortunes of the white middle class, the loss of traditional industry and the rise of the super-rich. I have always thought that what I can do is not very important. This electio


Some time ago, my writers' group chose to share images of their working environment. Th ese were some of mine . I work in a room full of books, the greater part of them consisting of my late husband David's lifetime's collection of F antasy and S cience F iction. T his small collection sits just to the right of my computer, and the bits and bobs in front of the books hold very pers onal memories for me. There are two Walker Christmas bears dating from the years I was regularly published by Walker Books (any previously published Walker authors may recognise the se - the one on the left came in a kit).  Next to the cuddly bear stands a parrot whose significance I have long forgotten, but I do love him . And then there's a shad owy image of something I will now show you in more detail - yes, it's a pottery cat, and it could well be flying. It remi nded David of the flying/gliding kitten in my junior novel DRAGONCAT so he bought it for me. As you m i gh t kno

Sometimes you simply need 800 pages to do a story justice – Andrew Crofts.

This month I spent a week with a client in Saigon , getting a feel for their life and for their city. I’ve not been before so my expectations had been largely shaped by Graham Greene’s The Quiet American , news coverage throughout my younger life and the musical, “Miss Saigon”. It’s called Ho Chi Minh City now of course, but that doesn’t sound nearly as romantic. It is also sprouting tower blocks, making the riverside skyline indistinguishable from other Far Eastern boom towns from Hong Kong and Beijing to Singapore and Bangkok – or even Canary Wharf for that matter. At street level, however, some of the old magic still simmers and steams in the wet heat. You can still sit at a pavement table outside the Continental Palace Hotel or in the roof bars of the Caravelle or the Majestic, and imagine Greene lurking in a corner.  A figure as obviously foreign as me will still be offered massages by street girls and shoe shine services by young entrepreneurs as

Authors and Publishers: Dipika Mukherjee considers a relationship-in-progress

In our modern western world A uthors and Publishers  rarely meet, let alone become good friends.  Growing up in India, I had heard the stories of the Bengali Renaissance being ushered in by a small group of writers and publishers who were also friends, including giants like Ram Mohan Roy, Isvar Chandra Vidyasagar and Michael Madhusudan Dutt who mentored new voices as well as wrote powerfully. As an underduate student of English Literature, I read of the Hogarth Press run by the Woolfs, which gave a voice to the Bloomsbury group. Unfortunately my very first experience of publishing was anything but congenial and friendly.  I had gone to meet the publisher of Penguin, India, then headed by a man who had turned Penguin’s fortunes around in Asia and was considered no less than a God. It was made clear to me that it was my great fortune that he was meeting me at all, and after he rejected the book proposal I had come with but signed me on to edit an anthology of Southeast Asian

So. You're A Writer, Are You? - by Susan Price

When Sarah Towle asked me to explain to the audience at our SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Catchy name) panel how I began as a conventionally published writer but am now, mostly, a self-publishing writer, I suddenly saw my career in terms of the three questions I've been asked repeatedly. This is the one that I started hearing as soon as I started publishing. So. You're a 'writer', are you? You see, I signed my first contract at the age of 16. When people asked what I did, and I said, "I'm a writer," it caused cognitive disruption. Because, obviously, I was too young to be a writer, since writers are all at least 40. Or they're 80 and pickled in cigarettes.    Even after I stopped looking young, I still had a Black Country accent. Which, obviously, writers never do. So I couldn't possibly be simply stating what I did. I must be a fantasist. Somebody who scribbled as 'a nice little hobby' a