Archive for the 'Libraries' Category

Mind Blind – ticking none of the usual boxes

So, what is a Lari Don book then? 

I’ve written 21 books, 6 of them novels, so it’s probably fair to claim that I don’t write just one kind of book. But up until now, there have been a few recognisable threads running through most of my books – if it had magic and myth and fabled beasts and Scottish landscapes, then it might be a Lari Don book.

But now I’ve written something totally different to anything I’ve ever written before. Because Mind Blind, my first teen thriller, is published this week.

Mind Blind is for older readers. I’ve written picture books (about bottoms and wolves), I’ve written short chapter books (about tigers and wolves), I’ve written adventure books (about dragons and wolves), I’ve written collections of legends (about heroines and wolves). The nearest I’ve come in age so far is novellas for reluctant readers (no wolves, yet).

But I’ve not written a full length novel for older readers before and it was a very different book to write. I could do a lot of things I’ve never done before. Swear. Injure people. Kill people. Make texts and smart phones an important part of the plot. Use public transport rather than dragons.

And Mind Blind is about a boy.  A teenage boy. I’ve written as a boy before – a male phoenix and a blue loon in Maze Running – but only for a couple of chapters.  Becoming a teenage boy for months on end was an interesting experience.

Also Mind Blind is written in the first person, so we are inside Ciaran’s head, seeing the world through his eyes, all the time.  (Except when we’re inside Lucy’s head. This was meant to be a book about Ciaran, but Lucy became so important to the story, that almost half the novel is from her point of view… )

Ciaran Bain is not a goodie either, unlike Helen or Pearl in my other novels. He’s a criminal, he does a lot of dodgy and illegal and even cruel things. And yet I am asking the reader to care about him and what happens to him – which was a bit of a challenge!

So.  Mind Blind has no magic, it has lots of crime, and it has no lovely Scottish landscapes.  No mountains or forests or islands or caves or castles. Mind Blind happens on rooftops and at bus stations and in docklands.  It’s not even set completely in Scotland!  It starts in London, spends a fair amount of time on a bus (not a fun journey…) then finally ends up in Edinburgh and Leith for the last third of the book.

Mind Blind doesn’t tick any of my usual boxes. That is exactly why I wanted to write it. And exactly why I want to hear what you think of it!

(Though, as I write this, I realise there is one book which was almost the precursor to Mind Blind, in a tangential way: Drawing a Veil – a novella about a girl who decides to wear the hijab and how her best friend and classmates react. When I wrote it, I did keep thinking – gosh this is tough, solving plot problems without magic! The story also ends on a bridge in an industrial area, just like Mind Blind. In fact, both endings were inspired by the same bridge in Leith, but in both books the bridge has changed slightly to fit the plot. So anyone who’s read Drawing a Veil might have thought that I was heading for teen thriller territory. I didn’t realise it myself when I was writing about Amina though!)

I’m always keen to know what readers think about my books. Feedback is very important to writers, and especially so with Mind Blind – because it’s like my very first book all over again!

So, if it sounds like your sort of book, please go and read Mind Blind (paperback, ebook, from a shop, from the world-encirling amazon or even FOR FREE from your local library) and let me know what you think!

Many Mind Blinds in a box

Many Mind Blinds in a box

And here is Mind Blind IN A BOX even if it doesn’t tick the usual boxes!

Archive for the 'Libraries' Category

Why read a manuscript when you can no longer change it?

Today, I’m going to sit down and read Mind Blind, my new teen thriller. Which isn’t that unusual. I’ve been reading, rereading, redrafting and tweaking Mind Blind constantly over the last few months.
But today, I can’t change anything. Mind Blind has already gone to the printers. It’s going to be available in bookshops on the 20th of March. Next month! Today I’m going to be reading the manuscript without the power to change anything, which will be a bit strange and frustrating.
So why am I reading it?
Because this time I’m not looking for things I can fix or improve, I’m looking for quotes and readings.
My relationship with Mind Blind is changing. For a long time I was writing the book: getting to know the characters, following new ideas, finding out what happens next. Then for months (most of last year!) I was redrafting and editing: working out the best way to tell the story. But now, I’m getting ready to promote the book: telling people about it, getting readers interested in it.
To do that, I need to find readings and quotes.
It’s an odd time. It feels like the book isn’t really mine any more. I’m a writer, but I can’t WRITE this book any more. I can’t come up with new ideas, I can’t change any words, or cut out any flabby bits. All I can do is help the book get out there and find readers. Because once a book stops being mine, when I can’t write it any more, it becomes the readers’ book instead.
So today, I’ll be rereading Mind Blind, looking for:
Sections to read during author events (in classrooms, in bookshops, in libraries, at book festivals etc)
Short quotes to give a flavour of the book
Sections to film on location
All of these readings need to be different – different lengths, focussed on different bits of the story – but they all need to have similarities too. All the readings must be exciting and self-contained, but they shouldn’t give away too much about the plot. They need to introduce the characters and their problems, but not give away how those problems are solved. They need to be short and punchy, and not need much explanation.
None of that is easy to find! So it means reading the book in a different way, almost with different eyes.
Also for the first time, I’ll be filming sections of Mind Blind in both London and Edinburgh, where the story is set, and that’s going to make things even more complicated. Normally I don’t choose readings from near the end of a book, but we’re planning to film in several locations in Leith which only appear in the final couple of fights and chases, so it’s going to be difficult to find readings which don’t contain spoilers!
But there is one other thing I will be looking for today, and it’s the most exciting thing of all. While I’m reading through Mind Blind, I might glimpse a few wee hints of story and characters and ideas that might, just might, point me in the direction of a sequel. And that would give me a whole new relationship, as a writer, with these characters.
So, here I go…
“I killed a girl today, just after the school bell…”

the first page of Mind Blind

the first page of Mind Blind

Archive for the 'Libraries' Category

The weirdest way to see the cover of your new book for the first time

I was in Castlebrae High School library this afternoon, chatting to S3s for the Craigmillar Book Festival, and I mentioned that I had a new book for teenagers coming out in February. So the lovely librarian, proving that librarians are a whizz at technology, went to her computer, googled it, and said, “Look, here it is.” She’d found the cover image, on Amazon. A cover that I had not seen, at all. I didn’t even know the publisher had designed it yet.

So in full view of a room full of teenagers, I walked over to have a look. Risky thing to do. Some of my book covers have made me cry, or at least use a few rude words.

But I quite like this one. She doesn’t look like the heroine did in my head, but neither does she look so unlike her that I don’t recognise her.

So I was able to keep chatting to the pupils, while keeping glancing over at the cover, and smiling a little. It was a weird way to meet a new book, but I’m happy.

So – cover of next book. What do you think?

(I’m not as much of an IT whizz as the librarian, so if I haven’t managed to put the picture up, here’s a link to the page!)

Postscript (2 weeks later) It turns out the cover above is NOT the real cover.  I think it was created for a catalogue, and it shouldn’t really be up on Amazon.  So I wonder how it will change for publication…

Archive for the 'Libraries' Category

Clowns and libraries and shouting BOTTOM at politicians

I’ve just done two of the weirdest author events ever. The libraries’ summer reading challenge this year has a circus theme, and so I was asked to talk about writing and words and general fun with books at a couple of libraries this week. That’s the sort of thing I do all the time. But this time, because it was a circus theme, I was doing the event with CLOWNS. I’ve only ever had one experience with a clown, when he decided it would be very amusing to interrupt me while I was telling a rather serious Greek myth to some P7s. Which wasn’t helpful. So I was a bit nervous about working with Oli and Gus in Hawick yesterday and Edinburgh today. But they were lovely. Really funny, very good at juggling with penguins, umbrellas, trumpets, hats, silver cups, and all sort of other oddly shaped things. They were really easy to work with too – we even discussed when it was ok to heckle. And I think I may have heckled them more than they heckled me.

We made up stories together – them juggling objects, and me making stories up about what they were juggling. And the harder, pokier, and more dangerous the objects the better!

So, that was fun. And slightly silly. But the silliest thing I did today wasn’t inventing, on the spot, a story about a cockerel whose alarm clock didn’t work, it was shouting ‘bottom’ in front of several politicians.

The event today was in a the gorgeous reference library in Edinburgh Central Library. It’s a huge room, with a massive high painted dome. I go there to research books (I did a lot of research for Rocking Horse War there, right under the dome) and it’s normally a very serious, quiet room full of students and researchers and if you drop a pencil or open a book loudly you worry that you’ve disturbed someone’s very important thought. So normally I’m very quiet there. But today, there were only me and the kids and lots of important politicians who’d come to see how the reading challenge worked. No desks, no researchers. So I stood under the dome, and I shouted ‘BOTTOM!!’

Now, I didn’t just do that for fun. Though it was fun. I did it because we were talking about our favourite words, and how to make stories and books out of them. And I’ve written a book about bottoms, and bottom is a pretty good word, so it made complete sense to shout ‘Bottom!’ in this very beautiful serious room.

And I got away with it! But I don’t know if they’ll ever let me back…

So, here are some pictures of me with the lovely, wonderful, talented, funny and utterly non-terrifying Oli and Gus.
Here also is a bit of footage from the Scottish Government website – the first time ever, I’m assured, that someone has said BOTTOM on the website about running the country. . .

(And please do go into your local library and see what fun things they’re doing for the Circus Stars Reading Challenge!)

Lari explains the penguin

building a story

Lari bosses the clowns about

Lari and the clowns