Thursday, 30 July 2015

Chasing an i-deer

If you have ever met a writer, been to an author event or are a writer yourself the following question will be familiar to you. The interesting thing is that it never has the same answer or gets boring. In fact at author events when the question is asked I get a little bit tingly and excited to hear the author or writers response.

"Where do you get your ideas from?'

Somebody asked me this recently and I had to take a moment to think it through, and actually in the end I rather fudged my answer as in truth I was worried it might all sound a bit wishy-washy and airy-fairy etc.

The truth is that ideas can come from anywhere and nowhere - some ideas have come from pieces of music, paintings, news articles, other books and some just seem to appear as if from nowhere (see I told you it was bit wishy-washy!)

BUT the idea is just a starting point. It's when our own imaginations kick in that the real magic starts.

A few weeks ago I was walking my dog on the field opposite my house, as I turned to walk alongside the small wood I saw what I thought was a dog standing very close to the edge of the crops (Oilseed Rape) But there was something rather un-doglike about it. It was incredibly still - no wagging tale or alert head. As my dog moved forwards the "other dog" turned, and at that moment I could tell it was a deer. It moved so fluidly and gracefully, without disturbing the oilseed rape in anyway and vanished silently into the crop.

It had been only a few meters away and as I drew level with the patch where it had disappeared I could see a narrow trampled pathway leading into the field. And for a moment I thought about following the path in the hope of seeing the deer again. Of course I knew I had no chance really of this working out, the deer would be far away, disturbed by my intruding footsteps and I'd never see it again.

And I started to think that this was what it was like to chase an idea, if you pursue it to hard you scare it away. Better to allow it to open up the myriad possibilities and paths before you and to wander freely and see what emerges than to hunt something that is faster and wilder than you are.

So where do my ideas come from? From all over, I try to allow everything to potentially inspire me but each thing, be it a song, an image, a word, name or passing fancy to be just the starter.

The way in. The shove in the right direction. The first step in the maze.

Jot it down, pin it, copy and paste, save it for later. And then let it lead me to richer and greater things.



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Good News


Hello everyone, apologies for being soo long with another post. It's all been rather frantic over here. But in the best possible way. Rest assured I've not been wasting my time and I have some wonderful news to share with you all.

As you'll know I have been working on a middle grade fantasy adventure book called The Apprentice Witches' HandbookI and I'm really excited to say that it has been bought by Chicken House and will be published in the (hopefully) not too distant future!

It's so exciting, wonderful and mildly terrifying all at the same time, but is totally a dream come true!

I have always loved stories, however they present themselves, through music, film and of course through beautiful, enchanting books!! I’ve spent almost twenty years (I started very young indeed!) working in bookshops and libraries surrounded and influenced by all those stories and great storytellers. Whilst my own tales buzzed around in my head, although a few even managed to make it onto paper once or twice. 

But now they have broken free and with the help, support and encouragement of some fantastic people, most especially the fabulous Golden Egg Academy Team lead by Mother Goose, Imogen Cooper and my awesome agent Kate Shaw, something that felt like a far off dream is one step closer to coming true! 
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It's very exciting and an honour to now be working with the splendid team at Chicken House, especially brilliant Barry Cunningham. I can’t wait to see where Arianwyn goes next!


So here is a little bit about the book,The Apprentice Witches' Handbook:

With everything stacked against her, apprentice witch Arianwyn Gribble must overcome a shaky start to achieve her true potential...

In the Four Kingdoms, witches use a set of five magical symbols, called glyphs, to control the natural flow of magic in the world. But Arianwyn Gribble, a young apprentice witch, has seen a sixth glyph for as long as she can remember, a glyph that has always heralded trouble and darkness, like the death of her mother.

At her crucial evaluation test Arianwyn is distracted by the glyph and fails. spectacularly, much to the delight of Gimma Alverston, Arianwyn’s fellow apprentice and arch-rival. Packed off to the the obscure town of Lull with only The Apprentice Witches’ Handbook and an odd assortment of new friends to help her things get off to a very shaky start.

Meanwhile, something is very wrong in the Great Wood of Lull, rampant with spirits and wild pockets of magic and a dark uncontrollable spell that – endangers the whole town… Will Arianwyn be able to face her fears and save Lull before it's too late?
So its all real, I do keep pinching myself! I'm busy editing at the moment and I'll be sharing more news and updates here as things progress! Stay tuned! 


James