Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

Bye Bye Spellchasers! Right, what’s next…?


The final book in the Spellchasers trilogy has now gone to the printers. I can’t make changes to it, ever again. I can’t change the little things, like commas, and I can’t change the big things, like who wins the battle at the end. The book is finished. It’s not mine any more, it’s very nearly yours instead.

(The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat is published in mid-August, and if you want to hear me chat about it before it’s even in the shops, come and see me on the first day of the Edinburgh Book Festival. And if you want a really early copy, check out this competition.)
Spellchasers
So, how do I feel right now? Now that I’ve said goodbye to Molly, Innes, Beth, Atacama, Theo, Corbie, Mrs Sharpe, Estelle and Snib…

I feel sad. This trilogy has contained lots of my favourite characters, and lots of my favourite magic, chases, and fights. I might never write about Molly, her friends and her enemies again. I’ll read the books out loud at author events, but I won’t be able to change the outcome, or tweak the dialogue, or suddenly change my mind about a moment of magic. So, saying goodbye after years of writing this trilogy is sad.

But I also feel relieved. Writing a trilogy has been a huge challenge, much harder than anything I’ve ever written before. and I got to the end! And I think it worked! (Though honestly, I won’t know if it really has worked until I hear from readers…)

And I’m exhausted. Writing three novels containing four stories (one story per book, and one story arching over the whole trilogy) has been extremely tiring. I’ve had to hold the whole story – more than 150,000 words – in my head at once, which hasn’t left much space for anything else! And publishing the books at six monthly intervals has been an interesting and energy-sapping experience…

But I’m also excited! I’m excited because I want to know what you think about how I decided (or how Molly decided) to end the story. I want to know what you think about the new characters I introduce in Witch’s Guide. I want to know what you think of the biggest battle I’ve even written. (Actually, maybe I’m nervous about all of that, rather than excited…)

But there’s something else I am genuinely excited about:

What’s next?

This trilogy has been the main story in my idea for years. For YEARS. And now it’s finished. So, what will I write next?

That’s not an easy question to answer. I’ve spent more than 4 years writing and editing the trilogy. I’ve never spent less than a year on a novel. So whatever I decide to write next will be a huge chunk out of my life. And whatever story I decide to write next, that decision will mean not writing lots of other ideas. So it’s a very hard decision to make.

not an ad for a stationery shop - all the notebooks I'm scribbling ideas in right now

not an ad for a stationery shop – all the notebooks I’m scribbling ideas in right now

I have lots of ideas for novels. Some of those ideas arrived in my head years ago, and have been waiting patiently for me to finish the Spellchasers trilogy. At least one idea arrived while I was editing Spellchasers (just like the idea of a curse-lifting workshop rose out of a subplot in the Fabled Beast Chronicles). And I’m planning to allow myself a few months free of deadlines, in order to simply read and think and play with ideas, so perhaps the perfect idea hasn’t yet arrived in my head.

There are lots of things I love about writing (and this bit – finishing a story, and passing it on to readers – is one of the best bits.) But my favourite thing of all is the process of an idea coming to life: a story starting to grow and develop and spark and bounce and fill my head. The first few pages of a new book, the first few lines in a new character’s voice. The first time I see the journey ahead, the paths that this new story could take me down. I love finishing books, but I love starting new ones even more.

So ‘what’s next?’ is never an easy question. But it is the most exciting one.

Ultimately, I always end up writing the story that demands to be written, about the characters who just won’t leave me alone. So, I think I’m going to sit quietly now, and listen, and find out what story is shouting the most interesting questions in the loudest and most intriguing voices…

In the meantime, if you want a chance to read Witch’s Guide before anyone else, here’s a competition to win an early copy.

 

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Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

The history of an idea…


‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ I’m asked that question at almost every author event. It’s a great question, but there’s no quick easy answer!

My ideas don’t come from a place. I don’t think it’s possible to draw a map of where ideas come from. Maybe we need a history of ideas, rather a geography of ideas? Because I can tell you the history of the Spellchasers idea coming to life in my head…

All stories start with a spark of an idea, usually a ‘what if…?’

But Molly’s story started with three different sparks, at three different times. Which is probably appropriate for a trilogy!fabled beast chronicles storm singing

The first spark arrived when I was writing the third novel in the Fabled Beast Chronicles. That must have been in 2010 or 2011 – 6 or even 7 years ago. One of the new characters in Storm Singing was a mermaid called Serena. I had lots of fun writing her, partly because I was never entirely sure whether I liked her or not. And Serena was cursed. She was taking part in the same Sea Herald contest as my main character Rona, because she thought winning would help her to lift the curse on all mermaids. And one little line of Serena’s dialogue made me think about whether there was a right and wrong way to lift a curse, ie whether there were rules of curse-lifting, and I wondered if there was a story in that.

But I was still in the middle of editing Storm Singing and I knew there was another Fabled Beast Chronicles book to come, so I just scribbled the thought down and put it to one side.

So that was a wee spark, about the rules of curse-lifting. And it sat in my head for a while.

Then there was the moment that the story arrived. That wasn’t a spark, that was a firework, exploding in my head. I still remember how it felt.

It was in January, 2012, so just over 5 years ago. I was meant to be doing my tax return, but that’s really boring, so instead, I was having fun typing up a list of possible future book ideas. IMG_4106I found the little note I’d made about Serena’s curse, and I started to add it to the list, but as I typed, the sentence about rules of lifting curses became a question about ‘what if…?’ ‘What if there was a workshop about lifting curses, and what if lots of young cursed fabled beasts met on that workshop… ?’ And suddenly I wasn’t typing a list of possible future books, I was typing characters and curses. Then I started to see and hear what I thought might be the first scene, in a room with desks, and they were all snarking at each other and arguing about curses…

This is a blog post I wrote that day, showing just how excited I was… Rereading the post now is quite odd – I can still remember that physical sense of a story coming to life in my whole body, not just my head. (Also notice how I carefully didn’t give anything away about the details of the idea!)

So that was the point when I knew that this idea was strong enough to be a book.

But I was still finishing the Fabled Beast series and I knew I wanted to write Mind Blind next. So I put this idea to the side again. But I was really excited about it, and I was sure it was one I was going to write very very soon. However, at that point, the idea was based around a mermaid, not a hare. So it still wasn’t Molly’s story.

And then, the third spark:
winter book spring flowers 2
In 2013, so almost 4 years ago, someone asked me to write a very short story about winter, to publicise a book of winter stories I was launching. The first image that came to mind for a winter tale was a hare’s pawprints in the snow. So I wrote a page about running like a hare, about being chased as a hare. And as I wrote, I knew this wasn’t a real hare, it was a person who had become a hare.That was when I knew who my main character was, and what her curse was. And I knew this book was no longer about a mermaid, which I’d honestly never been convinced about, it was about a human girl transformed into a hare.

That was also when I knew that I had to write this book as soon as I could. In fact, I never sent the winter hare story (I wrote something else about paper snow) because I knew this character’s adventure wasn’t a short story, it was a novel.

But soon, it wasn’t even a novel, because once I went on the curse-lifting workshop with Molly and the others, there was so much story, so much magic, so many questions to answer, that it become a trilogy.

And now you can read the trilogy (well, the first two parts anyway!)

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So that, as far as I can remember it, is the history of how the idea for the Spellchasers trilogy arrived in my head and grew into the story I started to write. But it’s still not a complete answer to the ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ question, because every other novel idea has arrived in a completely different way!

Though one common factor is noticing the ideas when they arrive, and remembering to write them down. And the other common factor seems to be that writing stories (or even lists) gives me ideas for other stories! So that’s not a ‘where’, that’s a ‘when’ and a ‘how’ and maybe even a ‘why’…


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

My Spellchasers Year


2017 is going to be a very Spellchasers year for me.  It’s all going to be about Molly, her curse, her friends and, of course, her enemies.  There will be a fair bit of shapeshifting, and a certain amount of magical combat.

2017 might even be more of a Spellchasers year than 2016, even though last year was the launch of the trilogy.

a sneak peek of the shapeshifter's guide cover and spine

a sneak peek of the Shapeshifter’s Guide front cover and spine

The second book, The Shapeshifter’s Guide To Running Away, is at the printers RIGHT NOW, and will be published next month, with an official launch the month after. (I’m getting quite excited!)

And I’m currently editing the third book, The Witch’s Guide To Magical Combat, which will head off to the printers just before the summer holidays and be published in early autumn.

So, for me, this will be a very Spellchasers year. And for anyone who wants to read about Molly’s adventures, there will be two new books and the chance to find out how her story ends!

And then…? Well, then the trilogy will be finished.

Readers have months to wait, and lots to read about, before they can find out how Molly’s story ends.  But yesterday, while I was rereading and reconsidering the occasional verb in the final battle of Witch’s Guide, I suddenly realised that I’m nearly at the end of my journey with Molly and Innes and … everyone else (some of the ‘everyone else’s are characters that readers haven’t even met yet!)

I was reading a sentence in which Molly was walking towards danger, quite calmly, and I suddenly realised that I’m going to miss her. That she’s been a splendid heroine to work with, that I’ve had a great time with her, and that I’m going to miss having her in my head.

This sudden burst of emotion happened yesterday, ie in January, a whole 4 months before I proofread the third book for the last time, almost 8 months before it’s in the shops…  But I’ve been writing about Molly and her magical world for more than 3 years now, and those very few months feel like I haven’t got much more imaginative time left with her.  Soon, I’ll have finished creating and polishing her adventures, and she’ll be all yours!

Then I can start to write another adventure!

I’m looking forward to this Spellchasers year.  I’m looking forward to finding out what readers think of Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away and of Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat. But I’m also looking forward to whatever I do next…

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Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

Spellchasers – a chance for you to bring the story to life before anyone else!


Any book has at least two phases of life, maybe a bit like a caterpillar and a butterfly. Or in the case of my new trilogy, like a tadpole and a toad…

For me, as a writer, the book is most alive when I’m writing it, when I’m living inside the story, when I’m making decisions about what happens next, when I can still make changes.

IMG_2523And with my new book, Spellchasers: The Beginner’s Guide to Curses, that phase is very nearly over. I will get one more chance to look at it, not to change my mind about character names or fight scenes or magical plotlines, but just to check that no apostrophes have gone for a walk and that no spelling mistakes have snuck in. After that, my role as this book’s writer will be over.

After that, it’s up to YOU!

After that, the book is only alive when you are reading it! (Or telling people about it, or drawing scenes from it, or acting it out in the garden on a sunny day, or imagining what might happen next after a cliffhanger, or wondering how you would cope if you had a magical curse thrown at you…) That’s when the book is at its most alive.

Normally the book would snooze for a while, in between me writing it, and readers reading it. The book would be waiting for the printer and the marketing people and the distributors and the book reviewers and all those other vital people to do their things.

But this particular book is so bouncy and alive, that it refuses to take a nap at all.Spellchasers #1

And so, Floris have decided to let a few, a very select few, readers have a look at Spellchasers: The Beginner’s Guide to Curses several months before it’s in the shops.

A few keen readers will get a chance to see a very early copy of the book (so early, it might not even be wearing its jacket…)

And you could be one of those readers!

All you have to do is tell my publishers why you want to get a sneak peek of the first Spellchasers adventure, and the winners will be the people who write in with the most creative reasons.

Here’s are all the details: the closing date, the email address, all of that sort of stuff.

So, if you want to bring Spellchasers: The Beginners’ Guide to Curses alive before anyone else, now’s your chance!


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

Revealing – The Spellchasers Trilogy!


I can finally tell you all what I’ve been working on for the last three years. It’s a trilogy of adventure novels, called the Spellchasers Trilogy, and here’s the first cover:

Spellchasers #1

What do you think? (The artwork is by Jordi Solano, and I think it’s fab!)

As you can see, the title of first book is:
The Beginner’s Guide to Curses

And I can reveal that the second and third titles are:
The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away
and The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat

I’ll be able to show you the covers for those soon (I hope!)

I can’t give you many details about the three novels just now, though I will almost certainly drop a few hints in the next few months. I can tell you there will be magic, and danger, and witches, and shapeshifting, and riddles, and chases, and a mysterious toad. And the story is set in Speyside, where I grew up.

The Beginner’s Guide To Curses comes out in August this year, The Shapeshifter’s Guide To Running Away will be published next spring, and The Witch’s Guide To Magical Combat will appear the autumn after that. So, they will all be out within about a year…

But if you think that’s far too long to wait, my publishers Floris Books are very kindly allowing a handful of young readers get a sneak peek of the book before it’s published, so if you’d like to read an early copy, head on over to Discover Kelpies blog, where I give a bit more info about the story, and where you can apply to get an early look at The Beginner’s Guide To Curses.

Now I’m off to finish the third book! (Just adding a bit more magic, and a bit more combat…)


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

The Toad Gait Scandal, and other last minute hiccups


I will be submitting the final draft of the first novel in my new trilogy to my editor next week. (And no, sorry, I can’t tell you the title. My publishers are going to reveal that in a burst of glitter and glory sometime soon…)

So I’ve spent this week doing some fairly odd last minute things to the book. The story is written. The words are all there. Now I’m catching daft mistakes, by double checking things I assumed were right when I wrote the first draft, and meant to check, but never quite got round to. And sometimes my assumptions are wrong.

For example, at the start of this week I found myself embroiled in:

The Toad Gait Scandal

One of the five main characters in this adventure is a toad. So I was checking whether toads inflate their throats when croaking (they do) when I noticed a tiny little line on a toad website about toads walking rather hopping. Which was a shock, because when I started writing this book, I assumed toads were basically warty frogs, and because I know frogs hop, I assumed toads hopped too. So in this book, my toad hops, leaps and jumps quite a lot. But at the time I noticed this awkward little line, I was dealing with croaks and throats. So I made a wee note to myself: ‘better check if toads really do walk rather than hop’

The next day, I saw the note and I thought, right, this will either take me 30 seconds or all day. If I find out that toads hop, there will be no changes required. But if I find out that toads don’t hop, I will have to go through the entire novel, all 60,000 words of it, and find every time this amphibian moves, then change the verb. And also possibly the whole page. Or whole chapter…

Because that’s the thing. Changing one word can unbalance or undermine a whole sentence, or a whole paragraph, or a whole scene. Writing a novel is like weaving a piece of fabric. If you pull on one thread, it can warp the pattern and create holes right across the loom. (And with a trilogy, it’s three times as complex…)

So, I took a deep breath, and googled how toads move.

And you can guess what happened. On several reputable wildlife and amphibian websites, I discovered that, even though frogs hop, toads walk. Yes. Go and look it up. They sort of crawl, in a sprawly fashion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a toad I met at Jupiter Artland when I was writing the first draft. (In a wonderful cave made of purple crystals.) This toad was very helpful about posing for a photo, but didn’t move around enough for me to realise that TOADS DON’T HOP!

So, one quick assumption I made years ago about how toads move, from my basic (basically wrong…) general knowledge about frogs and toads, resulted in a whole day’s work this week.

Hence, the Toad Gait Scandal.

Other things I’ve checked this week:
Do hares make a noise when they are scared?
Do pike eat eels?
What size is a crow’s egg?
How long are the October school holidays in various council areas?
When were the prime witch-burning years in Scotland?
What’s the best way to dig up tatties?
Does ‘law’ mean ‘hill’ in Doric as well as in Scots?
None of them resulted in nearly so many changes as the Toad Gait Scandal, because most of my assumptions were correct…

But there was one other double check which resulted in even more than a day’s work, because it affected all three books of the trilogy. I had to double check a hare’s field of vision. I knew it would be wide, but I hadn’t realised how wide. It turns out that hares can see almost the whole 360 degrees around them, with just small blindspots to the front and back. Which makes them very hard to sneak up on, and meant I had to rewrite almost all my chase scenes.

Perhaps I have a blindspot about wildlife research?
Perhaps I shouldn’t jump (or indeed hop) to so many conclusions about animals without checking my facts?
Perhaps I should leave the puns alone? (Though calling that frustrating day’s work the Toad Gait Scandal did make me smile…)

So, that’s the fact checking done. Now I just need to have one more readthrough for silly typos, then the book will be ready for my editor next week. Which is very exciting. But even more exciting is that in a few months, the book will be ready for YOU!


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

Is writing a book just like telling a big lie?


The best question I’ve been asked by a young reader at a book signing this year:

“Is writing a book just like telling a big lie?”

I answered, “YES! Yes it is! It’s fantastic! And you completely get away with it, because you’ve ADMITTED you’re telling a big lie! Because that’s what ‘once upon a time’ means…”

“Making stuff up is lying,” I said cheerfully, “and I’m quite open and clear and delighted about that! So yes, writing a book is exactly like telling a big lie!”

And my answer made him happy. (Or, at least, made him go away looking thoughtful…)

But was my answer correct?

Do I really think that I’m lying when I’m writing a novel?

Because, in my heart, I believe I tell the truth in my books. I set up a system of magic, and I stick to it rigorously. I create characters, and I let them do what is right for them (which is often extremely inconvenient.) I sometimes have discussions (arguments!) with editors, when I’m fighting for what feels TRUE for that story. I might say “no, we can’t do that, because Yann would never do that, or Helen would never say that.” And my editor knows what I mean – even though these characters are just words on a page, they still have to act consistently, in a way that seems true to the reader.

So there is truth, in that long, extended, totally made up lie.First Aid for Fairies

For example, at the very end of First Aid for Fairies, one of my characters does something extremely brave, essentially sacrificing himself to save his friends from a monster. I set that scene up. I sent the monster after them, I locked the door to block their exit. I created the (entirely fictional!) situation. But I couldn’t have forced the character to make that choice, to do that dangerous and brave thing. That could only happen, and could only feel true within the huge lie of the novel, because he was a character whose loyalty and bravery we already believed in.

And in the novel I’m finishing just now, I have a huge decision to make, about a choice the main character is going to make at the very end of the story. But even though I’m the writer, I’m not going to make that choice. Molly is going to make that choice, because it has to be the choice that is true to her, true to the character that I admit I’ve made up, but who has become real over the course of the three books I’ve written about her.

So, yes, a novel is a lie, but I think it’s an honest lie.

It’s also a lie that a writer puts a lot of effort into making convincing, at exactly the same time as admitting it is a big lie… (Look at this shiny cover! Look at these chapter headings! This is a story! It’s not real!) But we still need our stories to feel real, to feel true.

That’s why I do so much location research, to make my books seem real. Even if I’m writing about magic spells and monsters, I need the book to have convincing settings and characters. I need the lie to feel true, so that you the reader care about the story, care about the characters, and keep reading to find out what happens next. Because while you are reading, it feels real. Even though you know it’s not real. It’s a big lie, and you know it’s a big lie, but you still enjoy it!

If it didn’t feel real, because you know that location and you know the cave doesn’t go that deep into the earth, or the castle door doesn’t look like that, then suddenly you’d be reminded that it was a big lie, which would knock you out of the story.

So that’s why even though a novel is a big lie, and even though I ADMIT it’s a big lie, I still make sure it’s a convincing big lie…

If stories are big lies, then they are big lies that we as writers make as true as we can, and big lies that we as readers seem to need…

Right, I’m off to write another chapter of a great big huge exciting lie… What a brilliant job!


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

What Lari’s Doing Next… (Which is actually what Lari did earlier this year and last year and the year before!)


One of the weirder things about being a writer is the long delay between writing a book and the publication of the book. I have completely finished writing the words for at least (counting on my fingers) five books that won’t be out for months or even years, because they are still being illustrated or edited or just sitting waiting patiently in a queue to be published.

That means that when I finally launch a book, and chat to readers about that book, it might be a couple of years since I finished writing it. (And yes, I do reread my books before publication, so I don’t sound like I’ve forgotten them!)

It also means that there can be long gaps between new books, which makes it look like I’ve stopped writing (I haven’t), or lots of books at once, which makes it look like I’m suddenly churning books out (I’m not! I am just writing sort of steadily, most of the time…)

My most recent book (The Tale of Tam Linn, still one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever held in my hands) came out last year, and I’ve had a bit of a lull at the start of this year, but it’s all about to heat up again. I have quite a few books appearing on shelves in the next year or so, and I’m really excited about all of them.

So, here’s what next. Ranging from a book so nearly ready that we’ve actually got a cover, to a novel that I’ve not even started yet…serpent

Serpents & Werewolves, Stories of Animal Shapeshifters from Around the World.
Another collection of my favourite myths and legends, this time about shapeshifters. There are serpents and werewolves, but also dragons and swans and frogs…
This book is very nearly ready (look, we have a cover already!) and it will be published on the 10th of September 2015.

I’m also working on another collection of stories in the same series (along with Girls Goddesses and Giants, and Winter’s Tales). Wild Horses, Wings and Warriors (still a provisional title) will be a collection of horse myths and legends. No pony club stories, but lots of thundering hooves and battles! And perhaps a centaur.

tam-linnBut there’s more! Next spring there will be another Kelpies Traditional Tale picture book, illustrated by the amazing Philip Longson, who also illustrated The Tale of Tam Linn. I am so happy to be working with Philip again, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the monster in this story…

And even more… VIKINGS this time. breaking
The lovely Cate James and I, who worked together on Breaking the Spell, have another Frances Lincoln collaboration on the way.The Dragon’s Hoard is a collection of Viking sagas. There will be dragons, battles, boats and swords. And a swan. Also a zombie. (I didn’t expect the zombie.) I’ve finished the words, and Cate is working hard on the pictures, so this should be out in autumn 2016.

And still more. I’m also writing novels. Probably three novels. Possibly a trilogy. Likely to be set in the North East of Scotland. But whatever happens with all those probablies and possiblies and likelies, there will definitely be magic and danger.

So, that’s what’s next. I’d better get back to writing the books for 2017 and 2018…


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

Looking Forward To 2015 – Another Writing Year


So, the kids are back to school. It’s the start of another writing year!

I don’t have many books being published this year, but I am working on quite a few books for the next couple of years. (Being a writer is not about instant gratification.)

I don’t have a novel coming out in 2015 (sorry!) mostly because I moved house (twice…) in 2013, then spent a fair chunk of 2014 campaigning in the Independence referendum. But I am working on an adventure novel right now, and I hope there will be exciting news about that sometime in 2015.

The next thing I’ll be doing for the novel is work out how to get my characters home after a shoreline battle, so that they can have an argument and answer a riddle.

Girls Goddesses GiantsI do have one book coming out in the autumn of 2015 though – a collection of shapeshifter stories (werewolves, snakes, hawks, foxes, caterpillars…) These are the old stories that inspire the magic and characters and action in my novels. I’m sure this book will be gorgeous because it’s being published by the same people who worked with me on Girls Goddesses and Giants, and on Winter’s Tales.

The next thing I’ll be doing for this collection is a very careful edit of a story about a frog.

spell2I’m also working on another collection which I’m very excited about – retellings of stories from the Viking sagas, with dragons and warriors and magic and polar bears. It’s been a real challenge to find the right stories (I read a lot of sagas in 2014…) The best thing about this book is working with one of my favourite artists, Cate James, who illustrated the wonderful Breaking the Spell. These Vikings are going to look fantastic!

The next thing I’ll be doing for this collection is whittle down the very long list of stories I’ve found, to focus on the absolutely best ones for the book. Oh, and have a cup of tea with Cate.

DonTale-of-Tam-LinnAnd I’m also very excited about a picture book I’m working on – another Traditional Tales retelling for Floris books, likely to be out in 2016. The Tale of Tam Linn is such a gloriously beautiful book, so I hope we can do something just as special with the kelpie tale I’m working on right now.

The next thing I’ll be doing for this picture book is read every single word out loud, to make sure it works in the air as well as on the page.

I have several other books on the go too, and I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you about them soon!

I hope you all have a creative and story-filled 2015! I’m off to meet some deadlines…

 


Archive for the 'New Novel' Category

The nocturnal writer


I can’t stop writing for Christmas. Not just because I have a huge number of deadlines (I do! I have a picture book text and a collection of shapeshifter stories due in January, and a collection of Viking stories due in February, and an entire novel to write before the summer) but because once I am deep into a story, I have to keep writing it.

I have to live inside a story, keep it at the front of my head, move it forward every day. And to do that properly I can’t take a break from it. Days off here and there are fine. But not a three week break over Christmas. Picking it all back up in January once the schools are back would be like starting the book all over again, trying to remember the feel and the excitement and the characters’ voices and the rules of that particular magical world, after a prolonged holiday from it. I have returned to novels after a long break before, but it’s time-consuming getting back into the story and I don’t have time to waste this coming year.

Therefore, I can’t stop writing for Christmas.

But everyone else in my family is on now holiday.

So I’m becoming a nocturnal writer.

I try to do most of my writing during the day, during daylight hours. Full writing days at home if I can manage it, or nice big chunks of writing when I’m travelling to do author events. But I’ve always written at night as well. First Aid for Fairiesfabled beast chronicles First Aid was mostly written at night when my kids were asleep. But they were much younger then, so they were asleep by about 8 o’clock at night. Now, writing at night often means writing at midnight. I still do that, a couple of times a week, to meet deadlines, and to keep the stories alive in my head.

But if I want to meet these early 2015 deadlines and if I want to keep this novel moving forward at pace (one of my main characters has just revealed a very dark secret, and I want to keep that tension building!) then I’m going to have to become a truly nocturnal writer.

I’m going to stay up later than everyone else each night, and write for at least an hour. That’s probably when I’ll do the final research and final edits for the manuscripts which are due to be submitted next month. And I’m going to set my alarm very early every dark cold morning, and get up and write for a couple of hours before anyone else in the house is awake. That’s definitely when I’ll keep the novel rattling on.

And of course, during the day, I’ll be a mum. Delivering Christmas cards, doing last minute shopping, wrapping Christmas presents, baking, visiting family and friends, playing card games, going for walks, having fun with my kids. Maybe even lying on the couch reading the books I hope I’m going to find under the tree…

But at night and in the morning, I’ll be writing. I have to, and I want to. Because the stories don’t ever seem to sleep!

(And, yes, I do know that I need to sleep. But 5 or 6 hours a night is usually enough for me…)

PS – I’ve just realised that sounds like I’m not actually going to take a break at all! Which would be daft and unhealthy and not help my creative process in the slightest. I am taking a break over Christmas. Because the most tiring thing I do as a writer is not writing, it’s travelling all over the country to talk to kids about stories. (I love it, but it can be tiring!) And I’m not doing that for the next few weeks. Just time with my family during the day and time with my stories at night. That will feel like a holiday. Hope you all have a lovely relaxing break too!