(A much more cheery post than the last.)
I am reflecting on the comments of my book champion (God bless her) who got ‘The Selkies of Scoresby Nab’ onto the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction long-list for 2012
Reasons to be cheerful – what the reader said that validated my writing:
- well-written and moving – the MA was well worth it, then
- narrative voice is incredibly strong – jump and down with delight – isn’t that what everyone say they want from a writer?
- a convincing Northern dialect – well, it is pretty much my own
- distinctive and attractive sense of place and period – I spent a lot of time there and then imaginatively at least – you won’t quite find Scoresby on a map
- Mattie undergoes a true journey of self-discovery, finding out not only who and what he is, but also what he is made of. The story has told itself well then – and that’s what makes it ‘moving’. I still can’t read a certain bit without sniffling.
Points to ponder – I’m not sure yet where these will lead me – here are some immediate thoughts:
- The lyrical, poetic quality of the writing and story may work better for girl readers. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of gendered books.
- With this in mind, it may be worth considering if Mattie could perhaps work better as a girl – although that could have too much of a knock-on effect on other plot points, and the relationships/friendships. She is so right about the consequences of such a change. He has been Mattie Henshaw, complete with name, from the off. I did try doing a girl version at one point – but it felt wrong. Mmmm.
- Does the period-feel work for a contemporary reader? The current challenges of selling period fiction in the children’s market would need to be considered. Sorry, but that’s not my problem. I can no more write contemporary fiction than fly. Besides, what about the sales of steampunk & gas-lamp fantasy?
- Is the story and the writing unique enough? Now that’s a biggie.
- She used ‘charming‘ twice – aaargh – I shall have to get grittier!
- I really love the feel, pace and detail in this manuscript. – I could hug her.
- The author can really write. Huzzah!
there might be possible scope for working editorially with the author to make this book the best it can be.
Ah well. I’m always up for developing my skills.
Let’s see what I can do with ‘Georgiana and the Municipal Moon‘ at The Golden Egg Academy 23rd & 24th March, then.
Thanks to Jo Wyton for tagging me!
What is the working title of your book?
The Selkies of Scoresby Nab.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m a scuba diver and one of the most magical things I’ve ever done was diving with seals. This rekindled my love for the Selkie legends – although I’d never come across one from Yorkshire. So I decided to create one. I used the viewpoint of a boy whose mother was a seal – but who did not know.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a children’s historical fantasy. (It makes me feel ancient to call the Sixties history – but they are to ten-year-olds!)
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a film version?
I think it would be have to be animated. I’d love actors with convincing Yorkshire accents to do the voice overs, mind you. Dame Judi Dench would do a fine Grandma and Sir Patrick Stewart, Granddad. But the central younger characters would be better off as complete unknowns.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When troublesome Mattie Henshaw is sent to his grandparents’ house on Scoresby Nab, he doesn’t expect to discover a sea-going family he never knew he had, or to have to save them from slaughter.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I don’t have an agent – yet. It has been long-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition 2012, though.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the first draft as the main work in my MA in Creative Writing from West Dean College which I finished in one year ( 2011)
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I think it’s unique. It has a distinct Northern voice – so you might be reminded of David Almond‘ s writing or ‘Kes’, and there are magical parts that might make you think of Katherine Langrish‘s work or Pat Walsh‘s.
Who inspired you to write this book?
My amazing taskmaster of an MA tutor, Greg Mosse ( yes, he is husband to Kate Mosse) and way back in history, my old English mistress, Miss Grey – who believed in me.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If they have ever wanted to swim like a seal , or enjoyed the magic of the sea, then this is a book for them.
I haven’t got anyone else to tag – would you like a go? Please?
On the weekend of 14th -16th September I went to the CWIG conference at Reading. One of the many good ideas I took home was the concept of the collaborative blog. (I am indebted to Susan Price and The History Girls for this.)
What are the advantages of shared bloggery?
- more variety for the reader
- more frequent posts for the reader
- less taxing for each individual contributor
- more readers will come – the followers of the various contributors
What might it involve?
Ideally we would want 28 contributors to do one post a month ( as do the History Girls) – the extra days could be covered by guest posts. We could start with one post a week and review in the New Year – or we could trial one-a-day on a rolling basis and see how that turns out.
Who takes charge / takes the flak?
I am offering myself as curator in the first instance. I read and research voraciously about the sea and I am willing to edit and post on a simple site.
- all posts will reflect delight in the sea
- all posts will be suitable for fluent readers – no swearing, no talking down
- writing and artwork in the widest variety of forms will be welcomed – poetry, reminiscences, jewellery, photography, folklore, flash fiction, stained glass…
- concise and attractive posts will be preferred
- all images will be licensed, Public Domain or copyright to the poster – Creative Commons are encouraged
- follow & use the Twitter hashtag #seamagic
- ask to join the seamagic facebook group
- email me: kmlockwood AT hotmail.co.uk
- tell anyone you think just might be interested
- NO commitment yet
- your thoughts are very welcome
- it’s not about direct sales – but contributors can link to their own sites/ books/artwork