Tag Archives: Maudie Smith

The daft things we do…


This is me and Maudie a week ago. Full of excitement. But now it’s now and what seemed a good idea at the time seems a bit scarily close.

In just over three hours time, we’ll be bookselling at Waterstones in Salisbury – testing our expertise in kid’s lit.

You can test it too.

Come and join us.  3 – 7 the two idiots at the back of the shop.







Tiny Free festival for children and their books….


This weekend in the tiny town of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, something kind of remarkable is happening.  A teeny weeny free book festival for children.  It’s the brainchild of Anna Wilson and Alex Campbell – and it’s grown – only a little to include me, Angie Morgan, Maudie Smith, Catherine Bruton (AKA Cate Shearwater) and actually, Jeremy Strong.

It works on a first come first served ticket basis – Jeremy Strong is booked out, but there’s a waiting list, the workshop on Saturday afternoon is almost full, but there are still some tickets available for Maudie Smith (little children’s event in the morning, 7+ totally fab event in the afternoon) Cate Shearwater (gymtastic stuff at middayish) Angie Morgan (Stories for the very small at middayish) and a REALLY BRILLIANT PANEL EVENT on Friday night.  This has Anna Wilson, Gary Parker (writer of Millie Inbetween) Catherine Bruton and Alex Campbell all chaired by Maudie, blethering away about the tricky business of writing for young people.  If you are remotely interested in writing for young people, this event is for you.  Actually, if you’re interested in writing for anyone, this event is for you. For further details check out the BOAMBF website, to reserve tickets, ring the library 01225 863280 or email them : libraryenquiries@wiltshire.gov.uk

See you there – I’ll be building model villages and building stories and generally getting in the way.


I was asked by the splendid Liz Flanagan, to answer these questions and think about my writing process. She answered the same questions and you can read her very interesting responses here.

What am I working on?

Just now?  The Story Adventure – which this time around centres on a ghost story of 11,000 words, written with the collaboration of lots of children, inside a bigger story – a novel set in the world of Bywater by Sea.  That’s the new work in progress, but I’m also looking at proofs for Saving Sophia, a book out with Nosy Crow in July, and edits of The Yoghurt Plot, a time travelling feast for Sara O’Connor at Hot Key Books so I’m a busy creature – but then that’s what I like to be.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t know how my work differs, except that I can’t hold on to long stories in my head, so my work tends to be short and snappy.  It has to funny, or at least a little funny, otherwise I don’t enjoy writing it.  I think every writer has their own unique perspective, so unless they’re trying to sound like someone else, they tend to sound like themselves, but edited.

Why do I write what I do?

I write children’s books because I suspect I’ve never really left my 11 year old former me.  She was fairly sensible, and I think, still guides much of what I do.  She saw the absurd in people, which is something I find makes life a great deal more pleasant. She wasn’t terribly good at writing though, so I think I’m a more literate cipher for my illiterate self.

How does my writing process work?

I force myself to write what is, truly, mostly incoherent and sketchy outlines of what I feel a chapter should be like.  As I write on, I return to earlier chapters and fill them out, like pushing air into a balloon.   Ultimately I really enjoy the editing process, the way the choice of words makes the timbre of the chapter swing this way or another, the twisting of characters, the shortening or lengthening of suspense but the original writing process can be very awkward and uncomfortable.


The next authors to answer these questions on their own blogs, and posting on the 17th February – two wonderful people who I know not just because we are all children’s writers and live in the Avon Valley, but because our children all went to the same tiny Primary School. 

Maudie Smith 

As well as being a mother, Maudie is the author of the wonderful Opal Moonbaby trilogy – oh yes, trilogy, the third of which has just been published. Opal Moonbaby is a “touching story, deliciously tinged with magic,” according to Julia Eccleshare, and I agree.  You can find Maudie’s blog here – and her website here

Catherine Bruton

Catherine is a writer, a journalist, a mother AND a teacher.  Her first two books for young teens, We can be Heroes, and POP gained excellent reviews, and I really enjoyed, them. Her third, I Predict a Riot will be on the bookstands anytime soon – I’m looking forward to it.   You can find her blog here, and her website, here.

The Next Big Thing

This blog is my entry for The Next Big Thing.  I was tagged by Catherine Bruton, (We can be Heroes) along with Maudie Smith  ( Opal Moonbaby)  We’ve all been parents at the same primary school, so you might expect us to write really similar books, but actually, we’re quite different writers even though we all write for children.

The Next Big Thing is like a relatively painless chain letter, ( I always broke the chain and was sure I was going to die) – which gives everyone a week to think about what they’re going to say, and we all answer the same questions. In theory, every published writer in the country should end up doing it at least once.

Because I’m lucky enough to have two publishers, Nosy Crow and Hot Key Books, I thought I’d tell you about my next book to be published, rather than the pieces I’m working on at present.  So here goes:


What’s the title of your next book?

Dear Scarlett is out in February 2013 (assuming all the end of the world people are indeed barking and we’re all still here to see the snowdrops out of the ground.)

Where did the idea come from?

I’ve always had an image of a child with a pushchair breaking and entering. I keep picturing her outside some enormous gates – a box of diamonds hidden under her baby brother. Dear Scarlett isn’t quite that story, but has elements of – the innocent doing something not at all innocent. Mix that with views of watercress beds from the Hampshire/Wiltshire trainline and the story’s there.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Adventure/humour for 9-12s  almost certainly for girls.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?  For the children, I don’t know, someone young and unknown, and good at heights –  but the adults – Uncle Derek would be a young Kevin Whatley, The Chauffeur, George Cole (he of the original St Trinians films), Mrs Gayton, evil form teacher would be played by a thin man, maybe an aged David Tennant.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?  Girl seeks father through burglary, instead – finds alternative father and lasting friendship. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?   It will be published by Nosy Crow in February 2013  (gorgeous cover don’t you think?)img057

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?  About 4 months – but then ages to re-write it…

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  It’s a bit of Hilary McKay (Saffy’s Angel) meets Tammy and June (1970s girl adventure comic – I was an addict)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  My editor at Nosy Crow – Kirsty Stansfield, my agent -Kate Shaw, a tiny dark coffee shop, an animated caffeine fuelled discussion and some cake.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  At the heart of the story is the relationship between fathers and daughters, at one point Scarlett says that girls need mothers more than fathers – but I don’t actually agree with her.  I like to think that any girl, of any age, who loves her dad, or has lost her dad, will find resonance in this story.

Who are you passing the baton to for next week’s Next Big Thing?

The totally brilliant Lydia Syson is my only runner – but a very special one: She’s recently published A world Between Us with Hot Key Books, and it’s a fabulous read – all about the Spanish Civil War, about which I was shamefully ignorant.  She’s had fantastic and well deserved reviews from the Guardian amongst others – check it out.

A WORLD BETWEEN US - Lydia Syson - Jacket