Monday, 14 May 2012

Here we go...




Hold on tight, Em. You're in for quite a ride...

For those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you'll be more than aware that I signed a deal with Crooked Cat Publishing a week ago.

Yes, really.

The email confirming it came in at the same time as a rejection from an agent which made it all the more sweet. I've been riding a fabulous wave of excitement since, posting things here and there and making those all important excited phone calls to those who've been on the journey with me.

Now the work begins. I'm not talking about the necessary edits, but preparing to promote the hell out of it and deal with the (inevitable) crap reviews. I do imagine I'll get some good reviews too and I'm hoping the good ones will out-weigh the bad, however, I've occasionally heard myself when I've read a young adult horror book. I'm quite brutal.

I loved the Hunger Games with a passion. So much so that I felt quite depressed when I'd finished the trilogy as I felt nothing could compare. But when my friend finished them and I finally had a Hunger Games buddy to talk to, I found myself ripping parts of it to shreds. Don't get me wrong, I'll stand by the fact that I bloody loved those books but I suppose I've read so many of this genre that I like to think of myself as 'in the know'.

Point Horror books used to get the Emma Once-over too. I sometimes think the more you like something, the more inclined you are to slate parts of it. It shows there some passion there and that its affected you in some way.

Okay, is this me trying to mentally prepare myself for bad reviews? Am I babbling? Wouldn't be the first time I babbled on my blog...

Edits of Blackbrooke aside, I'm currently working hard on Book II (or as its officially called, Blackbrooke: The Guardian) and I'm grateful to have it. If Blackbrooke was a one book affair, I'd be feeling a lot more fear I'm sure. There would be a definite sense of finality as soon as it went on sale. Almost as though I was gathering all of my characters and putting them in a boat and watching them sail away.

With Book II, I'm back in the fold and at ground level with the characters. The best way to describe the way my mind see's it is when you played computer games as a kid (or maybe now?) and the character died but you got taken back to your save point. OR! If you play my favourite arcade game House of the Dead and you die but get the ten second window to put more money in and come back to life. That moment when the coins go in and you raise the gun back up to the screen at the baying mob of zombies, just waiting for the action to kick off again...well, that's the feeling I get with Blackbrooke II. Right back in the lions den.

Well, I really should get back to it. Times ticking and all.

Many thanks to everyone who's wished me luck along the way and I hope you stay with me to live through the rollercoaster that's inevitably involved in becoming a published author. For those who haven't checked out my author page on the Crooked Cat website then you can do so by clicking here.

I shall leave you with a beautiful song I've just discovered.

Em x


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Characters



I sometimes get asked where I get the ideas for my characters from. There was even a post on that very topic this week on an online writers group I'm a member of .

The answer for me is very simple. I take them from real people I encounter on a daily basis and steal little elements from here and there. Speaking as quite possibly one of the world champion people watchers, I often spend time sitting in coffee shops and watching the world go by (usually when the cursor on my laptop is blinking furiously at me to actually do some writing). 

Case in point. Yesterday evening I was running late to catch a train to Manchester to meet my dad and his girlfriend for a drink. I was stressed. It was my first meeting with his girlfriend and I was miles away from the train station and then faced an hour train journey, so I was definitely not going to make a good impression. 

I usually walk everywhere but, on a whim, decided to hop on a bus. After all, that had to be quicker than walking the two miles to the station, right? Well, it was. Marginally. Instead of heading straight for the station, I got an eye-opening tour of Liverpool's suburbs. My headphones were blasting in my ears and I suddenly noticed I was the only passenger on the bus, and the driver was talking to me. Snatching out the headphones, I heard the driver teasing that the traffic was all my fault and, as soon as I opened my mouth to protest, I got the usual Scouse response:

Driver: "You're not local are you?"
Me: (Gulp) "No, I'm from....(do I? Don't I?)...Manchester."
Driver: (Curled lip) "A Manc, eh?" 
Me: "Mmm hmm."
Driver: "Whereabouts in Manc?" 
Me: "Edge of Salford, near Bolton." 
Moment of awkward silence ensues. 
Driver: "Hey, Bolton?" 
Me: "Yes."
Driver: "See that prostitute there?" 
Me: (Suddenly strangely giddy about the prospect of seeing a real life hooker in broad daylight. I stand up a peer out of the window like a meerkat) "Oh my god..."
Driver: "She's a right troll, isn't she?" 
Me: (At a loss for words) "She's wearing a bikini top and a leather jacket..."
Driver: "Yeah, that's her patch. You see that corner there? That belongs to an eighteen year old Cuban boy. He earns more money than the women." 
Me: (Now stood next to the driver) "Fascinating. I didn't know this was...that they...that its the...(lower my voice to a whisper)...red light district."
Driver: "Yeah, be careful walking around here. If you set foot in their patch, they'll chase you."
Me: "Shit..."
Driver: "I won a prostitute once." 
Me: "I'm sorry?" 
Driver: (nods) "Yeah. It was 1976 and we were playing pool. This pimp with a handlebar moustache wanted to take me on and said if I won I could have one of his girls for the night." 
Me: "And you won?"
Driver: "Yep. He said I could have the next whore to walk into the bar. I was praying she'd be a looker but she was an absolute hag."
Me: "So, what did you do?" 
Driver: "Asked for a triple whiskey instead." 

I was still laughing as I boarded the train. Honestly, I find people fascinating and I hold conversations in my head for years. I must have been having a day for it because when I got the night train home, there was a little boy sat across from me, dressed in a Liverpool kit:

Boy: (Sighs) "I've been everywhere today."
Me: "Where?"
Boy: (Counts on fingers) Liverpool...Manchester...erm, that's probably it." 
Me: "Wow...(looks around me, wondering where his parents are)...are you on your own?"
Boy: "No. My dads sat over there but he's really drunk and is sleeping again." 
I turned and looked to see a man wrapped in a Liverpool FC flag, snoring, several seats behind me.
Me: "Wow...you know, you're going to have to be really nice to your dad in the morning. He likely to have a sore head."
Boy: "No, he's usually okay. When my mum drinks, she doesn't wake up until the middle of the afternoon." 
Me: (Trying not to laugh) "Oh dear...well, you look very smart in your football kit." 
Boy: "Thanks. I'm eight." 
Me: "I'm twenty-seven." 
Boy: "I'm going to Benidorm next year." 
Me: "Lovely, are you excited?"
Boy: "No, it's a bit early to get excited."
Me: (Smiling) "I suppose you're right." 
Boy: (Sighing again) "Anyway, this is my stop. Nice to meet you. (Walks away) Come on, Dad. This is us." 

He was still waving furiously at me from the platform as the train pulled away. 

I spend a lot of my time with my headphones jammed into my ears, planning my storylines but I've decided I'm going to make a conscious effort to listen instead of just watch from now on. You never know who you'll meet and what may end up working its way into a book in the future. 

The cheesy thing about my writing that I've said a couple of times (and then winced as soon as the words left my lips) is that I don't choose the characters, they choose me. I tend to think of a story that I want to write about. With Blackbrooke for example, I wanted to write about a town where humans had to live alongside creatures and follow strict rules in order to survive. The first thing I did was write the rules and then the characters started to seep into my mind. Everything, even down to their names, feels beyond my control and I like it that way. 

I remember when I was writing Driving Exile, a complete departure to my preferred young adult genre, that I'd be disappointed with the actions of some of the characters. Instead of deciding myself what they would do, I just let the story unfold by itself, even if I didn't like the direction it was going in. Trust the gut, that's what I say! 

In creating the second and third part of the Blackbrooke trilogy, I've had to face some difficult 'truths' that I'm not a huge fan of. With one character in particular - I want them to remain a certain way but that's not what my mind is showing me so I have to suck it up, write it, run it by my unofficial story editors and see what the verdict is. 

Speaking of which, I really must get on with some writing now and quit stalling....

Thanks for reading,

Em 

x

This pic reminds me of my lead character in
Blackbrooke, little Miss Liberty Connor