It’s been about a million years since I blogged, my apologies! There’s always so much to do and never enough time to do it. As my lovely twitter followers know, my youngest son has gone to school and I am now officially a full time writer. I miss my baby terribly, but it’s such an amazing feeling to be able to write for a full morning and a bit of the afternoon every day. With one book’s edits due in two weeks, and Spirit due in ASAP, it’s easy to motivate myself to work consistently every day – not so much self discipline, more like deadlines pulling my hair and tugging at my clothes and whispering HURRY UP! in my ears. A wee while ago I’ve had fantastic news: Really Weird Removals.com has been shortlisted for the Scottish Children Book Awards, something I’ve been dreaming of since I started writing. It’s currently on its second print run, with the sticker ‘shortlisted for the SCBA’ in the cover…never thought that at nearly forty, I could get so excited about a sticker! If you want to get involved in the Scottish Children Book Awards, you can find out how here. To celebrate RWR day of glory, Alistair has opened a twitter account, @weirdremovals …do follow us:) Really Weird Removals has also taken part in the Edinburgh Book Festival with an event in the school programme, on the very last day – the Gala Day! It was brilliant and really put me in the mood to do more events. Children are an amazing audience, so full of life and with a huge imagination, still unbridled. And look what the Primary 7 at Pitlochry High have put together for me… I was extremely excited to see the Authors’ Yurt from the inside, at last! [...]
Thank you to Roy Gill, author of the Daemon parallel, for asking me to take part in the Next Big Thing! So here’s what I have to say about my next book. • What is the title of your new book? Tide, Volume 2 of the Sarah Midnight trilogy. This is volume 1, Dreams: • Where did the idea come from for the book? The character of Sarah Midnight came into my mind suddenly, after seeing a black haired young woman at a bus stop (it makes me sound like a crazy stalker, but I do look at people a lot and make stories about them!:-)) I wanted to tell the story of a girl growing up, and although her circumstances are exceptional – demon hunting and such – the challenges she faces are common to young girls. Like figuring out what love really is. • What genre does your book fall under? Young Adult I suppose – a mix between adventure, fantasy and paranormal romance. • What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Jennifer Lawrence would have to play Sarah, that’s for sure! As for the male leads, I do have a weak spot for Chris Helmsworth, the perfect Sean! • What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Dreams: “First the dreams, then the hunt. Now the fight for survival.” Tide: “The blood is strong.” Ok, not synopses, but that’s what I think of when I think of the plot for Tide:) • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It’ll be published by Black and White (Edinburgh), and I’m represented by the velvet and steel Fairy Godagent Lindsey Fraser, at Fraser Ross. • How long did it take you to write the first draft [...]
At last! After more than a year from the offer of publication, my children’s book, Really Weird Removals.com, saw the light! We launched it in the lovely venue of Waterstones Argyle Street in Glasgow – one of my favourite haunts. “It was a dark and stormy night”…and both my publishers, the girls at Floris, and my agents – Lindsey and Kathryn from Fraser Ross – got stuck on the motorway on their way from Edinburgh. I was a leetle bit petrified of having to do it on my own… …but hey, the lights were going off at half eight, we had to start! And so I did. On a personal note, I found speaking in public a lot easier this time – maybe because the audience was smaller – about 60 people – or maybe because so many of the guests were children. It was funny to explain how I have no idea where the story of Really Weird Removals came from – it just materialised in my head, ready made. I wrote the first three chapters more or less the way they’re now, printed them out and slept beside them for a few weeks. Then I heard about the Kelpies’ Prize, two months away – and I realised I had to finish it fast! So I did – easily and happily. Everything about this book has been easy and happy, including the edits, done so expertly by Sally Polson and Eleanor Collins. There’s nothing more satisfying than a secure editing hand, and nothing makes a writer happier! Like the right midwife:) It was incredible to be shortlisted for the prize, and when I didn’t win, I was delighted to be offered publication anyway. I did think, I must admit, that it was a good story – I was very [...]
So Dreams is out…a month early! Head-spinning, exciting, and oh, so nerve-wracking. My baby is out into the world. I’m lucky enough to have the support of Waterstones, who decided to make Dreams Bookseller’s Choice for the month of May in all Scottish stores. This is a huge honour for me – I can’t quite believe it yet! Dreams will be officially launched on Saturday 12th May in Waterstones Argyle Street, at 5pm. This is the lovely display that they have prepared for me: At the launch, Edinburgh singers songwriters Kirstyn Knowles and Jenny Masterson will unveil the song she wrote for Sarah, Do This Alone – I can’t wait to be able to share it with you all. In the meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful song she wrote, one of my faves: Sea. Also, I’ll be doing a signing in Waterstones East Kilbride on Saturday 5th May from 12 noon, it’d be lovely to see you there, if you’re around. It’s my husband’s home town, so it will be good – the whole family will come and say hello. And I’m not done with the good news: the Scottish Book Trust have kindly offered to make Dreams their Book of the Month. I’m incredibly grateful for how Dreams is being received, and for all the people who are working so hard to help Sarah make a mark into the world! If you want to see what the fuss is all about, you can buy your copy of Dreams from – among others – Waterstones and Amazon. I’d love to hear what you think! And keep your eyes peeled, because I’m going to do a giveaway soon – a signed copy of Dreams, a promotional booklet and a launch invitation will be up for grabs. Dani x
And here it is, disgracefully late as ever…you know me, I’m always chasing deadlines! A chat with my friend and fellow Kelpie Roy Gill, whose debut novel The Daemon Parallel was launched last month. Enjoy! When and why did you start writing? I think I’ve always been writing… stories based on the books I read or the telly I watched, at first. By the time I was a teenager, it was probably mainly gloomy Ray Bradbury pastiches! I studied English Literature & Film at university, and I think, oddly, that made me write less (fiction, anyway). I became very wrapped up in thinking & writing critically, and was intent on pursuing a career as an academic. When I was about to turn thirty, I sort of shook myself… I knew I secretly still wanted to be a fiction writer – and realised I’d never be happy if I didn’t give it my best shot. Skip over several years of novel drafts, angst, opportunities, mis-steps and competition shortlists – and my first novel is published this month. I still don’t quite believe it… What gave you the idea of the Daemon Parallel? A particularly vivid dream! I dreamt about a boy, living with his Gran in Edinburgh, and the city outside was all twisted and strange, and filled with monsters… I wanted to know what kept these two – very different – characters together, and what had happened to the city. When I worked out the answers to those questions, I knew I had the beginnings of a story. I wrote, “It was over coffee and biscuits that Grandma Ives offered to return Cameron’s father from the dead…”, and it all unfolded from there. How much of Cameron is there in you, and viceversa? That’s an interesting question! All characters – [...]
Cameron never came to visit his grandma when his dad was alive – and he’s just found out the reason why. Sent to stay with her after his father’s death, Grandma Ives soon reveals their family’s extraordinary abilities, and introduces him to the dark side of Edinburgh he never knew existed – the Daemon Parallel. Cameron is sent on dangerous missions in Edinburgh’s daemon underworld to find the ingredients for an ancient spell that will bring his dad back to life. Cameron befriends a werewolf, bargains with a giant bat-like beast, and struggles to escape the clutches of a powerful spider daemon. But will he survive long enough to finish the resurrection spell? And who can he trust in a world where nothing is what it seems? It’s always a bit weird to read and review a friend’s book. I was quite anxious when I received this, in case I didn’t enjoy it, or I didn’t think it was very good. Sure, the extract I’d heard the night of the Kelpie’s Prize was brilliant, but reading the whole book was a different story. My worry dissolved after I read the first page: the writing was beautiful, and the story as promising and yummy as a piece of cake you’re about to sink your spoon into! And it got better and better. Cameron, the main character, is a loveable, thoughtful, brave little boy whom I fell for at once. As a child, Cameron can be your hero – but as a 38 years old woman who was, once upon a time, one of those children who don’t quite fit it, I saw all the layers of him. This is one of the things I love about this book: it’s an action adventure, full of magic and danger and werewolves, but it’s [...]
My very first school visit: Lenzie Moss Primary, a brilliant P5 class of clever, articulate, imaginative children. I couldn’t have had a better start to my new role of visiting author! Just like teaching…only even better:) I read an extract from Weird Removals.com, the chapter about the stranded mermaids in the Clyde, because they’re working on the River Clyde as their topic. After the reading they asked me a few questions – where I get my inspiration, if I’ve always wanted to be a writer, my favourite book…it was great to share with them and listen to their comments and ideas. We then did a brief re-enactment of the mermaid rescue as a drama workshop, which was a lot of fun. The children are now writing their very own rescue mission: once finished, I’ll choose the two best stories, and they’ll be published on the Weird Removals.com website (coming soon). Here’s to more school visits to come!
RAVEN – BLOOD EYE by Giles Kristian Osric has been living with a small English community for the last two years, apprentice to a modest carpenter; he can’t remember anything of his life before he got there. One of eyes is red because of a blood clot, and this makes him an outsider wherever he goes. One day his village is destroyed by a band of Norsemen, led by their chief Sigurd, and Osric is taken prisoner. Some of the Norsemen accept Osric as one of their own, and teach him to fight, believing that his red eye is a sign of being marked by the gods. Others, though, see him as a jinx, or a source of bad luck. Until he’s betrayed, and has to fight for his life… Once in a while, I need something I can sink my teeth into – plain, old style adventure. And with Raven, that’s exactly what I got. I enjoyed every minute of it, because of the setting, the plot, and the writing style which is exceptionally vivid and uncompromising. I actually had to finish it in a hurry because my husband, having heard me talking about it, couldn’t wait to read it! I’m so looking forward to the next instalment and my next journey into Kristian’s Norseworld. I wish there were more books like these…If you know of any, give me a shout! Visit Kristian’s (gorgeous) website.
One of the best things about social networking is how easy it’s become to widen my horizons in terms of books and music. While exploring twitter and its follow suggestions I came across Roddy Hart, a singer-songwriter from Glasgow. I’d heard his cover of Most of The Time and absolutely loved it, and I was keen to know more. I’m absolutely crazy about Take Me Home, a love song full of emotion and without a hint of sentimentality, and a super-cool black and white video. That’s how I found out about his music pledge. This is what Roddy and the Lonesome Fire have to say about their choice: For our new album, we want to create something truly special – bigger, bolder, and better than anything we’ve ever done before – and we want you to be part of it. The songs have been written and we are ready to record in November, but we need some extra help this time to get into a studio and work with a brilliantly creative team who are just as passionate as us about making a great album. Our independence means that we have to find different ways of funding our albums. (quoted from Pledge Music) I find his choice fascinating – though I’m not really sure of its reasons. Roddy is clearly any record company’s dream, so it’s not like he can’t get signed up. So is his choice one of artistic independence? Wanting to be in control of the process? As someone who has experienced the joys and tortures of editing, I can see why. If you have a strong project and decide that you need to keep ~complete~ control of it – either you set up a record/publishing company, or, more easily, you hire your own producer/editor. I have such [...]
So, Sarah is on her way out into the world. I can’t begin to express how delighted I am about my unruly daughter being ready to fly. I’ve lived with Sarah for such a long time now – four years, from when she was first conceived, in Italian, to when she was translated into English and a whole universe was created around her. Until last summer, when finally, Sarah’s story was accepted for publication, and our editing journey started. For the last year I’ve lived and breathed Sarah – the plot, the characters, the alternative history of her universe. I’ve played little films of her story in my head for months, some of which ended up on paper, others are out-takes that I might, or might not share. Many times I’ve woken up at two in the morning with sudden revelations and thoughts about the characters. My long suffering husband and children have been accepting – quite generously, I think – to share me with Sarah and Harry and Elodie and Niall and Mike and all the crew. They’re so real to me, all of them. I am Sarah, of course, in many ways (though I was never tall, slender and green eyed, nor I ever had supernatural powers!). I’m in love with Harry – I always fall for the heroes I’m writing – I feel such tenderness for Elodie, with all she went through, and Mike and Niall are old friends of mine. I’m sure I’m in good company when I say that sometimes they speak to me, they tell me their story, they come to me in my dreams; I know that many fellow writers will know exactly what I’m talking about. And with two books to come, my head is full of the stories yet to happen, [...]