Archive for June, 2012

What is a book launch for?

We launched the fourth and final book in the First Aid for Fairies series last night.  In a hot and crowded hall just off the Royal Mile (there were groups from at least 6 primary schools there!) we held a launch party for Maze Running.

But what is a book launch FOR? For readers it’s a chance to eat some crisps, and get a signed copy of the book before anyone else. For the publishers it’s a chance to let booksellers and buyers know the book is out there. And for the writer it’s a chance to thank all the people involved in turning a story into a book (and for Maze Running there were lots of thanks, including publishers, agents, early readers, my kids, vets… I hope I didn’t forget anyone last night!)

So a launch is really a hello to a book. A birth day birthday party, perhaps.

But last night was not just a hello. It was a goodbye too. Because Maze Running is the last in the series, I was saying goodbye to the characters and to the series.  Which wasn’t easy.  And quite a lot of readers in the signing queue asked me to write another one PLEASE! But I can’t write another First Aid for Fairies book.  I stood up there and said to everyone: “This is the last time Helen will go on an adventure with the fabled beasts, to heal their injuries, at the solstices and equinoxes.” And while the word “last” in that sentence seems quite definitive, it might be possible to gallop a centaur through the wide gaps in the rest of the sentence…

However, several other readers in the signing queue mentioned that their favourite book of mine was Rocking Horse War, and wondered if I would write a sequel to that, now that I’m done with Helen. So that’s an idea I’m kicking about as well…

But right now, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to write next, I’m concentrating on saying hello to Maze Running, and goodbye to the fabled beasts.

So here are a few (slightly blurry) photos of the launch. Me reading to a small group of fabled beast fans, and a few favourite character pictures from Lorne Primary in Leith and Calderwood Lodge in East Renfrewshire.

Thanks to everyone who helped to launch Maze Running!

chatting to a handful of fabled beast fans

some of Lorne Primary's favourite characters

some of Calderwood Lodge Primary's favourite characters

Archive for June, 2012

Maze Running – Written on the Run

I just looked at the very first folder for Maze Running, created when it was still called First Aid Four, and when I was working on each chapter individually, rather than in one big manuscript.

Looking at the names of the chapter files, you would think that I never sat at my own desk:

  • One chapter was started in a primary school staffroom (Chap 6, Priorsford)
  • Another was started in a primary school general purpose room between author events (Chap 17, Troon)
  • At least three were written on long train journeys
  • One was started in a train station in Lanarkshire when I on got the wrong train and was stuck in a waiting room for a couple of hours
  • One quest was completed on the platform at Dundee train station
  • One chapter was written in a hotel when I was doing a book festival in the North of England (Chapter 20, Durham)
  • One was written in a B&B in Gairloch, in the far north west
  • Another was finished in a guest house in Wigtown, in the far south west
  • One was started at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh
  • “Chapter 11, Mitchell” suggests that I injured a dragon in the Mitchell library (quietly!)
  • Three different chapters are titled “ballet” because I started them sitting on cold steps outside my daughter’s ballet class.
  • And another is called “Argyll quest at ballet exam” because I wrote part of the fourth quest while my daughter was sitting a ballet exam.  (She passed.  Helen and the fabled beasts didn’t do quite as well!)

In Maze Running, I send Helen and the fabled beasts on seven different quests, missions and rescues, to the south, north and west of Scotland.  But I’ve realised that the book was written in even more places than that!

So, does this mean I spend too much time away from my desk? Am I not taking my writing seriously enough? I don’t think so, because I don’t need a desk to write – I just need my netbook, or a pen and a bit of paper.  Or I can even just scribble on my other hand, or a napkin…

Does it mean I’m only inspired to write when I’m out and about, rather than at my desk, and should get out more often? I don’t think that either! I write a lot at home too, but because I’m not transferring those files from one computer to the other, I don’t give them such detailed names.

It really just means that my three jobs – being a writer writing, being a writer talking about writing and being a mum – are all part of the same life, rather than neatly separated.  So I take whatever book I’m writing with me everywhere I go, and write it wherever I can.

It also shows that I can have really good ideas when I’m sitting outside a ballet class, or in a cold train station.  Even if I am typing with gloves on.

I write fast-moving action and set my books all over Scotland, so writing on the run and in lots of different places is probably very good for my stories. And I write for 8–12 year olds, so working out how I’m going to start the next chapter just after speaking to P5 about cliff hangers and just before speaking to P6 about chase scenes, is probably the best way to write!

I wonder where I’ll write the next book?

tools for writing on the run: netbook, notebook, napkin