By Ann Evans
On a recent school visit, one little chap innocently asked, “How old are you?” Now, I'll answer any question truthfully to a class of nine and ten year olds – even that old favourite: “How much money do you get?” Oh but the age thing. So out came my stock answer, which is to say that I started writing when my children were tiny and now they are grown up with children of their own. Then as they're busy calculating the years, I get on with telling them something more interesting.
But that old cliché 'out of the mouths of babes', certainly rings true whether you're talking to a class of junior school children or your own offspring and grand-kids. One bright spark at another school did a quick calculation – not about age this time, but on rejection. I always tell the youngsters that I had six different novels rejected before I finally had one accepted – stressing the need for perseverance. I'd earlier shown them a typical 60,000 word manuscript (I was trying for Mills & Boon and adult crime stories at the time). Out of the blue a little ten year old put his hand up and said, “Miss, you wrote 420,000 words before you got anything accepted!”
Put like that I was stunned. So thanking him for making my day, I reiterated the need for perseverance in whatever you choose to do. Fortunately almost half a million rejected words didn't seem to put anyone off wanting to be a writer when they grow up!
Karbel is my ghost of a sabre toothed tiger, haunting a remote Scottish Valley. So I sat down to reply to her, thinking, I haven't a clue what's going to happen to him, but I had to think of something... Before the day was out I'd got an outline for a second and third book. Happily the publisher loved the ideas and I loved the little girl who had pushed me into thinking a little deeper.
I count myself lucky now in having my very own number one fan and critique all rolled into one – Jake, my eldest grandchild. At 13 and almost as tall as me (as he constantly points out) he's always been keen to read my latest offering. In fact there was an incident that made me smile a while back. He was sitting on my bed reading one of my books. I was sitting at the computer next to the bed madly typing away on a new story. For a moment it felt like a little production line which made us both smile.
As a keen reader and story writer himself, Jake has always been eager to come up with ideas and suggestions when I've been stuck and one suggestion he made recently certainly struck a cord.
I told Jake my storyline. Surprise, surprise when he exclaimed, “You can't kill the dog!”
Never mind the humans who come to a sticky end, the message was loud and clear, the dog had to live. Perhaps that was why it never got accepted. Maybe the newer dog friendly version will have better luck.
|Grandson Jake and pal.|
Inevitably they all want to know - does the puppy dog die?
Fear not, I tell them – no animals were hurt in the writing of this book!
I wouldn't dare do otherwise!