Writing a book is a strange business. You put hours and hours of thought and energy into creating something but, other than running the idea past a select few (my husband and kids, usually) you do it on faith alone until it’s finished. You believe that you have a good story, and that you are the one to tell it, and that’s enough.
When it’s finished, or at least you think it is, you start to share it more widely. People read it, and you learn from their reactions whether you were right to have that faith or not. Now, I’m lucky here because I write for kids and kids don’t pull any punches. I’ve outlined ideas to my son and had him just screw his face up like I asked him to eat dog poo, and others he’s started jumping up and down in excitement.
That’s why I was nervous, last year, when I went into his school and read a couple of chapters of Alfie Slider to years 3&4. They were great, though! They sat and listened, only a few minor shuffles, and they asked great questions afterwards. I left feeling encouraged and got right back to work trying to get Alfie into print.
There are big things happening in Alfie’s world just now, the manuscript has been proof read and the lovely people at Silverwood Books are working hard to get it into print for January 2017. The sequel is out with beta-readers. It’s another one of those points along the road where self-doubt begins to creep in. Will anyone buy the book? Is it really good enough to be published? Is the sequel any good?
I help out in both my children’s classes; my daughter is in year 1 and my son is now in year 5. His teacher has asked me to help with literacy, and I’m loving every minute of seeing how he inspires the children to write, and being a part of their creative process. At break time this week, a couple of kids were still in the classroom doing a job, and I was looking at book covers on the shelves, because I have decisions to make about the cover for Shape Shifter. We got chatting and the following conversation happened:
Boy: You read your book to us last year. It was really good.
Girl: It was, it was really good. What did the key open?
Boy: I guessed it was a space ship.
Me: You were right.
Boy: Isn’t the next one Alfie Slider and the Frozen Prince?
I was totally floored! If I’d mentioned Frozen Prince at all, it was in passing when I answered questions at the end, because I hadn’t even finished the first draft at that point!
Then later on, as I was helping a group create their own mythical monster, this happened:
Boy: Are you a writer then Miss?
Me: I am.
Boy: Have you had any books published.
Me: My first one is coming out next year.
Boy: Is that the one you read to us?
Me: Yes, that’s the one.
Boy: What shops will it be in?
Me: All the shops, and I’m going to see if I can bring them in to school too.
Boy: Good. I’m going to buy one.
And right then and there, my faith was renewed. Yes, kids love Alfie Slider. The ideas in the opening of that book were interesting enough to stick with them for six months, and they’re keen to talk about it and read it.
That, right there, is really all I need to know right now.