Subject FINAL DAY OF THE WOLF PRINCESS BLOG TOUR ...
My Writing Day
I have three children and, during term time, I get up at 6.57am. I have a weird thing with always setting the alarm on an ‘odd’ minute and never on the hour.
The big ones will get themselves sorted but my youngest needs a bit more of a heave and a ho and my husband probably needs the biggest heave-ho of them all. At the moment, they are out of the house just before 8am.
What I like to do then is make a cup of Earl Grey, get dressed and put some lippy on, even though I’m hopeful I won’t leave the house. I’ll then get a large cup of instant coffee (Blend 37) and get to my desk.
I love my desk. I love being in my study. I love my pinboard. I love being in this room.
I don’t need any warm up rituals or to think myself into anything. I just open the file of whatever it is I’m working on and read it over from the beginning of that chapter and just ‘go’. I will have got a pretty clear idea in my head of what I’m wanting to write that day and where I need to get to. I know some writers say they don’t know what’s going to happen from one page to the next and I can see that it might help to feel a little loose and to be aware that you can be surprised. But if I didn’t have some idea of where I was going with a story it would be a disaster. I just find it hard to understand how you can know where to put the emphasis in your writing if you’re not pretty clear of the overall narrative arc. However, there is always going to be a tension between what you know and what you don’t yet know and it is wonderful when a story surprises you. I feel as if I learned so much from writing The Wolf Princess, not the least, what works for me and what I’m really interested in. I try to keep myself intrigued and excited... I have a quote on my pinboard (argh! No idea where I found it... but it’s wonderful...) ‘Admire the world for never ending on you as you would admire an opponent, without taking your eyes off him, or walking away.’ So I try to write with that level of attention.
During term time, with the exception of all the usual domestic faff, I keep at my desk. The time goes very quickly. Of course, there are days when I have to go out, but I do feel increasingly agitated if I spend time away from my desk. I think is because I feel as if I have very little time to write: I’ve never been particularly good at working when the children are around (i.e. during the holidays, of which there seem to be so many). I was trying to explain this the other night to someone and they thought I was being extremely pretentious. ‘Oh we’d all love perfect work conditions, yadda yadda’. He completely missed the point. I can write pretty much anywhere and ideas come all the time (in truth, you don’t really ever switch off). But... I just think that you want to be able to start writing without fear of interruption... It’s not that I can’t write when there are other people in the house, but I write with a different sort of attention when I’m on my own.
Around 3pm I will scoot downstairs and see what I need for supper... if I need something, I’ll dive out and get something... if all is well, I’ll go back upstairs and keep going until the first key in the door at around 4.30pm.
Then, I really do try and give my time to the children. We’ll have supper, I’ll watch something with them, they’ll start their homework. My husband Charles gets back around 8pm. We do love the telly in our house and the loveliest evenings are when we light a fire and watch some sort of drama. I’m trying to get to bed at a reasonable time so I can read. It doesn’t always work...
The Wolf Princess is out now in paperback, eBook and as a special limited edition hardback.
Subject eBooks, PBooks? We ❤ ALL books!
Whilst the digital debate rumbles on as surely as the number 9 Routemaster down Aldwych, we’ve been busy getting all the great eBooks we have to offer up on the Chicken House website.
You will find a number of great teen titles up there already including:
Roderick Gordon & Brian William’s:
And we’ve got more to come soon!
Whilst we crack on with delivering great books across all formats, we’d love to know what you think.
Does the rise of the eBook fill you with dread? Are you a book ‘sniffer’? Do love to curl up with a paperback on the sofa, but love the convenience of a digital reader on the train? Would you buy digital and physical copies of the same book, so you can still show off your shelf-candy? Get in touch via twitter @chickenhousebooks (#Digital), or email us Chickenhouse@doublecluck.com
Oh, and if you love a great debate check out BBC Radio 4’s Front Row Special on the subject.
Happy reading (whatever your format of choice)!
Subject 'LIKE THIS ... BUT NOT THIS ...'
This Mitchell and Webb sketch has long been a favourite in the Chicken House office.
Today, we would like to dedicate it to all authors who have valiantly negotiated their way through the editing process.
We salute you!
Subject FUN AT THE FESTIVALS!
Festival season is well and truly upon us and literature festivals are as popular as ever before. In particular, the children's programmes of the major literature festivals in the UK have grown in their popularity year-on-year. The Telegraph is the media sponsor for both the Bath Kids' Lit' Fest and the children's programme at the Hay Festival of Literature. I asked the Telegraph's children's literary critic, Lorna Bradbury, why she feels festivals are a great way to celebrate all that's good in the children's book world:
"Children's books are currently thriving – whether you're talking about illustrated picture books for toddlers or, at the other end of the spectrum, the recent explosion in excellent fiction for teenagers. Literary festivals are a big part of what we do at the Telegraph, and we are lucky enough to sponsor the two leading children's festivals: Hay Fever, which takes place later this month, with a terrific line-up including Philippa Gregory, Lauren Child and Francesca Simon, and the Bath Festival of Children's Literature, in September. These festivals are important for us because they make our alliances with children's writers more publicly prominent – and this in turn nourishes our coverage in the paper and online. Perhaps one reason that children's festivals are growing in popularity has to do with how creatively programmed they are. Children's writers are among the best performers out there."
Last year Freddie Rawlins, age 11, went to his first ever literary festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Here on The sCoop!, Freddie tells us all about the experience and about why he can’t wait to hit the festival circuit again this year:
“When I went to Edinburgh last summer I was blown away! I’d never have considered going to a book festival but I got the chance to go to Edinburgh with my mum and it really set the bar. To me, book festivals are all about meeting the creators of other worlds and seeing the pure genius that went into books like CHERUB and the Skulduggery series. I think a book festival is all about escaping into fantasy.
We first went to see Cathy Cassidy, who talked about where she writes and the environment she likes to write in. I enjoyed her talking about how a small caravan in her garden inspired her new book. We then joined the queue for Robert Muchamore. He was brilliant talking about the reason that he writes for children but still uses more realistic and adult vocabulary. I loved the book signing afterwards and because my mum was an author (Sophia Bennett) I was allowed in the authors’ tent where I spoke to Robert Muchamore about his new book The Prisoner.
But I have to say my favourite author was Derek Landy. He spoke without any script or podium, explaining that as a child he loved 1940’s fast-speaking detectives and that’s what Skulduggery is based on. Derek spoke about Skulduggery as if he was a real person. He was entertaining, enthusiastic and hilarious! His new book had just come out and I had got it signed and had read it by the time we got home. Can’t wait for this year!”
Festival season kicks off with the wonderful Hay Festival. You can catch some great Chicken House authors in action this week, on the children’s programme, Hay Fever:
Author of Shadow Runners, and Doctor Who novel writer, Daniel Blythe, will unlock the secrets of creating strange and mysterious worlds.
Event HF80 • Wednesday 6 June 2012, 11.30am • Venue: Starlight Stage
William Osborne (with H.M. Castor)
Hollywood script-writer and debut children’s novelist William Osborne, will talk about the blending of fact and fiction in his faced-paced adventure Hitler’s Angel.
Event HF103 • Thursday 7 June 2012, 1pm • Venue: Starlight Stage
Event HF109 • Thursday 7 June 2012, 4pm • Venue: Digital Stage
Don't forget to check out Lorna Bradbury's great weekly column in the Telegraph, 'Ask Lorna', which answers readers' letters, and presents children's books, both old and new, in a useful way for parents and grandparents.
Subject HAUNTERS REVIEW by Freddie Rawlins, Aged 11
ByTina & Freddie
To celebrate the launch of Haunters by Thomas Taylor here's a review almost as blistering as the book itself by our very own book-eating boy, Freddie Rawlins (aged 11):
"Haunters is an incredible take on the traditional ghost stories told around the fire. Thomas Taylor’s idea about ghosts coming from the future is innovative and surprising. In Haunters, nothing is certain: the past, present, or future.
Eddie, Adam and David can all ‘dreamwalk’; when they sleep, they appear in the past as ghosts. But when the past is changed, so is the future. There are the scientists and historians who are working for a greater knowledge of history. Then there is ‘The Haunting’, a sinister organisation that manipulates history for riches and fame. However, there’s a catch – no one over the age of 18 can dreamwalk, meaning that the fate of history rests with children.
This is a book that when you stop reading it feels like a part of you is missing. The characters all have their own mysterious pasts – and each glimpse of their pasts gives the reader a new perspective of them. The book is an adventure story and has an element of psychology but it’s not just a ghost story. If David doesn’t stop Adam, then no one, in any time, will be safe."
This is Freddie's second review for Chicken House, but he's already a hit! He's been spotted by First News and picked as a Red House Reader. Keep up the good work Freddie and we'll buy you an ice cream!
Subject FREDDIE THE INCREDIBLE BOOK-EATING BOY!
To celebrate the release of William Osborne's rip-roaring adventure Hitler's Angel we are featuring the very first review by Chicken House' young book reviewer, Freddie Rawlins (pictured). Over the coming months, Freddie (aged 11) will be sharing his thoughts on all the latest Chicken House titles. So hold on to your tin-hats and get ready to bunker down:
"Hitler’s Angel is about two children sent behind enemy lines to retrieve a mysterious package that could bring down Hitler for good, but what lies in their path? The main characters, Leni and Otto, are recruited in London by British Intelligence as a last hope to turn the tide of the war. Going to England had been a dream for both of them but now they have to face their worst nightmare and return to Nazi Germany.
This book by William Osborne is a good combination of Robert Muchamore's ‘Henderson’s Boys’-style fiction and World War II fact; with real characters, such as Heinrich Himmler, who William Osborne really seems to bring to life. The story is aimed at boys and girls aged 10 to 13. With both emotional and serious moments the book has a deeper meaning, while the action is unpredictable and exciting as stories intertwine effortlessly behind the scenes. The book seems set for a sequel and I hope there will be one as Osborne’s writing is inspiring and intriguing. "
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