Friday, 2 December 2011

Beginnings, endings and Christmas - Linda Strachan

Yesterday I got my first Christmas card.
Despite the fact that December has only just arrived, already we are inundated with Christmas images, (apologies for adding yet another) and Christmas sales promotions.

I know some people are organised and are already preparing for Christmas but it all seems a bit too soon for me- I am not quite ready to throw myself into festive preparations, quite yet.  I am still in writing mode

I went on my last school visit of 2011 yesterday, and it was wonderful.
Hamish McHaggis and his Hoggle
The P1 and P2 classes at St Ninian's RC Primary in  Livingston had done a huge amount of work based around my Hamish McHaggis books. 

The Hamish McHaggis Whirry Bang
Including making their own Hoggle (Hamish's home) and versions of  his Whirry Bang (car)

 And on my last school visit of the year I was able to tell them about a new beginning, the latest Hamish book which is coming out next spring  
Hamish McHaggis and the Great Glasgow Treasure Hunt  
I also showed them one of the beautiful drawings Sally J Collins  has done for the new book.

This is always an exciting time, when I see my words and her pictures coming together.

Writing  a picture book involves, for me, a very visual approach. I think visually when I am writing, seeing it in my mind's eye and that is not so different whether it is picture books or novels.

But the difference with a picture book is that someone will be drawing the pictures on paper instead of the reader creating them in their mind.  So I think about what the pictures might look like, and I read the story out loud so that I can remove any extra text that is unnecessary and evident from the images on the page but also so as the book reads easily for the parents or children who will be reading it aloud.

Working with Sally on the Hamish books, as I have done now for several years, it is easy to imagine what the images will look like but other times when I have worked on picture books the end result is so different to the pictures I had in my head that it has often taken a while to adjust.  Thankfully almost always the result is excellent, just different!

As often happens I have also been working on something else, at the same time.
At the moment I am completing the first draft of my new YA novel and it couldn't be more different.
Spider and Dead Boy Talking are both gritty hard hitting stories, with real life themes including knife crime, car theft and bad decisions often leading to terrible consequences for my characters, so they are about as far from a cuddly haggis as you could imagine.
The new book Don't Judge Me is in a similar vein.  

But perhaps that makes it easier to move from one to the other as I am writing. It certainly adds variety and means that, as happened earlier this week, I can be speaking to 14 or 15 year olds and children at a nursery - all on the same day.  It certainly keeps me on my toes!

So as the frosty nights arrive and the days are ever shorter I am not quite ready to discard 2011 yet.  There are in fact another 28 days to go and most of them are before Christmas!

Are you finishing, starting or preparing for Christmas? 


Linda Strachan is the  author of the Hamish McHaggis series, YA novels Spider and Dead Boy Talking and writing handbook Writing for Children
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Susan Price said...

What? Is it December? Already? Can't be... It was only just October...

Linda Strachan said...

My feeling exactly, Sue!

Stroppy Author said...

Ignoring Christmas! But it's not a time to stop working. In the good old days, I used to spend Christmas day writing in a corner of Florian's in Venice, sipping extremely expensive Cafe Venexiana. New Christmas writing tradition needed now!

Linda Strachan said...

Oh don't get me wrong, I do like Christmas, mostly, but I would like it to come along when I didn't have 16 million other things I want to get done before it, so that I could actually spend time enjoying the preparations, instead of rushing at the last moment!
I have to admit your tradition sounds interesting, Anne!
Personally I love the few days after Christmas, when all the fuss is over and family have gone off to do other things.

Sue Purkiss said...

Agree completely - after Christmas is lovely! But the run-up to Christmas will be different for me this year, because I'm going over to Brussels on Tuesday to spend nine days with new grandson and family. So I've done some things early - but now have a lovely space when I won't have to do anything about Christmas at all, except admire the lights and go to see other grandson's Christmas show - brilliant!

Ann Evans said...

Loved the images in your blog Lynda and congratulations with the new books.
I remember years ago I was working with a small publisher on a book on English customs for the Polish market, and she rang me Christmas Day to discuss the progress of the book. Can't fault her for dedication I suppose!

Linda Strachan said...

Sounds lovely, Sue, have a great time.

Thanks Ann,
I wonder if perhaps she had not actually read the bit about the custom of being on holiday at Christmas then?