Tag Archives: The Yoghurt Plot

In Real Time.

Just before Christmas I was aware that I was living through the days that take place in MURDER IN MIDWINTER. There was no snow though. And no murder and no actual thrill. Life was the adult whirl of Christmas preparation with just a hint of Christmas magic but rather too much shopping.

Now we’re on the other side, and I’m about to live through the real time of Bus Stop Baby, and this time, the weather’s obliging with frosty nights, too cold to leave a baby in a bus shelter and the promise of spring and days getting longer to follow.

I’m hoping, that given time, I can fill the whole year with stories.  DEAR SCARLETT, soon to be re-issued, is end of summer term.  THE YOGHURT PLOT is late spring. SAVING SOPHIA is the summer holidays, SHRUNK is Halloween.

Perhaps I need to think about September next.

Happy New Year.

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Writing Strictly from memories

The season of Strictly is upon us.  The bad jokes, the glitter ball, the makeup the strange skin coloured bits on the dresses that always worried me when I was a kid. Were those women really half naked?

Years ago, I used to watch the grandparent of Strictly.  It was a serious affair, called ‘Come Dancing’. I have absolutely no idea how the scoring worked, who the judges were, who the contestants were – I was a child on my Grandma’s sofa – marvelling at the costumes, the glitter, the orange spray tan ( things have moved on there) and the only moments of anything remotely sexy shown before the 9 o’clock watershed. It was as if glam rock had fused with the old ladies at tea dances and the two spawned something strange and exotic and slightly illicit.

I took my childhood fascination and used it to write The Yoghurt Plot. Which is an accidental homage to that almost forgotten sequinned world that the 1970s toyed with and abandoned in favour of orange space hoppers and brown cars.   I wanted to reach into that strange marriage of frump and glitz and pull it out and make it live.

The result is overtly a time travel story, but underpinned by love for a world I never really saw except through the juddering TV, and never remotely understood.  In the Yoghurt Plot, I imagined what living right up close to that greasepaint and patent leather would feel like.  I took as my setting an east coast run down sea side town and planted the dance into the middle of it. It might have been some strange monster like Little Shop of Horrors, but instead I chose to let it lift my heart as a writer. While I was writing it, I grabbed at the glimpses of Come Dancing that I could remember, along with the smells of Grandma’s face powder and held my breath in an attempt to get right back inside the memory.  Because Bugg, the central character was visiting the past, it was easier for me to visit my past through Bugg’s eyes. My incoherent memories had to coalesce in order to construct the story.

Curiously, now, eighteen months after writing it – I almost can’t remember the process.  I know it’s a story, a fiction, but because it came so much from sensory snapshots I think more than any other book I’ve written – it feels like one of those dreams where it might really have happened.

Speedy, teeny tiny Story Adventure

To mark Children’s Book Week next week (I know it’s Independent booksellers too, but they aren’t mutually exclusive) – we’re running a teeny tiny , super speedy story adventure, based on a single episode from the Yoghurt Plot.

If you have any children who might like to join the story adventure, but can’t do week after week, then this is for them. The book at the end will be totally FREE and downloadable.  So do sign up. 

 

Here’s a taster….

 

Chapter 1

 It was entirely by accident.  I didn’t mean to do it.

It was six o’clock. I opened the fridge, and took out a yoghurt.  It was in a glass jar, it had a paper lid, I should have stopped right then, but I was hungry…

That’s all I’m going to give you – you’ll have to go over to the Story Adventure to find out more – but I can tell you that  it will feature Bugg, Dilan and Lorna on another adventure –  with more time travel, more yoghurt – and maybe more gerbils?

 

I’m no cruciverbalist –

I’m no cruciverbalist, but I like nothing better than a random selection of letters – not 7 like scrabble, more like 12, with a smattering of numbers that can be made to be numbers or letters.

We have just such a pile of left overs that live on the door of our fridge.

Daily, someone tries to make sense of them

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Daily no-one can.

So they found their way into The Yoghurt Plot

the yoghurt plot

You’ll have to read it to find out how.

#mywritingprocess

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.