Moving on by Sandra Horn

We are moving towards the year’s turning. Time to look back – and forward. I don’t want to dwell on world events in 2016 or I might sink into irrecoverable gloom, so I’ll keep it personal and writing-focussed.
     I’m still surprised to find that Including my first, Tattybogle, I’ve written 14 picture books and 7 storybooks. That’s over 21 years, though, so not exactly a fast production line. It’s been a lot of fun, with occasional bumps along the way.
     The first (bump) was the icy reception by the Andersen Press team at the Carnegie/Greenaway awards, when Tattybogle was shortlisted. By the most incredible and unfortunate coincidence, another Sandra Horn had just produced a book. Andersen  had an option on my next book and they thought I had violated it. I had no idea what they were talking about until I went into Waterstones and saw ‘Kofi and the Butterflies’ by Sandra Horn. A lovely story, although not one I would have written.
     I became Sandra Ann Horn from then on, but the butterflies continued to haunt me for years. I remember arriving for a storytelling session at a library in the Welsh valleys and finding the whole place decorated with butterflies, which were also on the bookmarks a librarian had designed. They were mortified and I was mortified for them. All that loving work and they couldn’t possibly have known. Are there any more books by Sandra Horn or Sandra Ann Horn in the Andersen catalogue? No. But they licensed the paperback of Tattybogle to Hodder, which was great and I went on to have other things published by them. And a few other publishers. Then Tattybogle, The Moon Thieves and Babushka were all transformed into musicals by the amazing Ruth Kenward at Starshine Music and that has led to all sorts of delights including a trip to South Korea and many visits to watch the shows.  All good! Earnings approaching zero, but a great deal of enjoyment.
     Then came the scary step of taking early retirement and setting up the Clucket Press to produce The Mud Maid and The Giant for the Lost Gardens of Heligan, with illustrator Karen Popham.  That’s been great and we’ve now handed over production to the Heligan team.
The Mud Maid by Sandra Horn

The Giant by Sandra Horn
As time went on and rights reverted, we re-published some of the picture books and storybooks, as ebooks and/or paperbacks. All good! The only downside, before print-on-demand, was having to buy vast quantities of the books in order to keep unit costs low. We had boxes of books everywhere for years, and one particularly tricky day when 12,000 (three different books) arrived all at once. Now, they have reduced in number and are all in my study rather than all over the house.  The trouble is, I can hardly move and sales are slow, so HUGE decisions: 1,000 are going to Book Aid after Christmas and possibly more, and the Clucket Press is winding down. There are two, possibly three, books on the stocks, probably all destined for PoD rather than print runs, and that will be it. 

Rainbow by Sandra Horn
The Silkie paperback




It’s mostly a relief. No regrets – or almost none. The Hare and the Moon, Bad Dog!, Brian the dragon, Doris the Hen and Big Dog Ben, the cloud-chasing pigs and the Clockmouse  now won’t see the light of day, which is the sad bit of it. For the rest, it’s time to move on. I’m hoping to find a publisher for ‘Mister Nobody the musical’ and I’m going to try to be a poet. Maybe I’ll even finish my YA novel and see if it gets any takers.  The New Year is full of possibilities. May it be peaceful, healthy and happy - and creative – for you all!


Oh, Sandra - the unfortunate tale of your doppelganger could be a story in itself! I do have a namesake, but the other Katherine Roberts is American and writes books about golf, so fortunately different enough not to make too much difference to my (or her) career... although more than one young fan has emailed me to say how upset they are I "have abandoned fiction to write my golf books".
Ann Turnbull said…
It's sad about the Clucket Press, but I do see why you have to wind it down. I hope The Silkie is still available. When I started out writing for children I used to get clutches of Antelope Books from the local library for inspiration, and one I loved was The Silkie. Now I, too, am getting my backlist together for self-publishing, have a new YA currently with my agent, and am trying to be a poet. I'm looking forward to the New Year and hope it's good for all of us.

My doppelganger is an American academic - she adds a bit of gravitas to my Amazon and Goodreads book lists. You were very unlucky with yours.
Bill Kirton said…
Isn't it ridiculous how random coincidences can have such far-reaching effects? But you've overcome them splendidly, Sandra.
Interesting that you (and Ann) will be 'trying to be poets'. It's been occurring to me recently that mastering that particular discipline may be the touchstone for anyone claiming to be a writer. I've dabbled, and even had some published here and there, but I'm not convinced that I have the necessary skills. (So maybe I'll try too.)
DT said…
I applaud your decision to make decisions! It's easy to feel at the mercy of circumstance and all the more important - in these troubling times - to take control of our own destinies as much as possible. Wishing you a rewarding and successful 2017.
PS I love the book covers.
Dennis Hamley said…
I'm fairly sure I don't have a writing doppelganger, so I can safely sing 'There's only one Dennis Hamley' at football matches. A pity nobody would join in with me. But your description of the long, slow winding-down process after our heady commercial careers have disappeared is very recognisable to me, as a valuable and necessary experience in its own right. The competitive stress has gone and now we can enjoy the writing experience for its own sake. Though thank God for PoD. I think 12000 books arriving at the flat in one go would have me running down to the railway and laying my head on the tracks.
Jan Needle said…
Don't have a writing doppelganger, but I do have a Facebook friend called Jan Needle. She's a female... Merry Christmas Sandra, and a Happy Noo Year
glitter noir said…
A sad but inspiring account, Sandra. I believe that 2017 will be a winning year for you. You deserve it!

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