Monday, 8 January 2018

Ten years, ten books, ten memories by Keren David

Ten years ago next week I started a course in 'Writing for Children' at City University in London. It is no exaggeration to say that this course -  taught by the wonderful writer Amanda Swift - changed my life. 

I started writing my first book  (When I was Joe) after a plot-planning exercise on the course. It was published in 2010. Since then I have had seven more books published, the ninth is coming in April (Stranger), and this week I finished the first draft of my tenth.
So, ten years, ten books. Here are ten memories of that time.

1) My second school visit was in an area known for gangs and street crime. I distinguished myself by explaining the best way to stab an attacker. Later the librarian told me that there had been a fight in the library over the last copy of my book.

2) I got dressed in the dark for a school visit many miles from my home. Halfway through the day I realised that I had put on the wrong pair of trousers -  and the ones I was wearing had a large  and ever-growing hole in the seam of the inside leg. I did the last session with my legs firmly clamped together, waddled like a penguin to the door, and bought a new pair of leggings for the journey home. 

3) Best question on a school visit: 'Miss, can you tell us which hair products you use?' 

4) Scariest school visit: five minutes before I was due to address a full school assembly: 'Just wanted to warn you...see that boy in the second row, face like an angel? Well, he's got behavioural problems, and if he gets over-excited he's likely to shout out rude comments. Just ignore him....he's looking pretty excited.'
5) Best compliment ever (I think), from two separate librarians at two separate Youth Offender Institutions: 'Your book is the most stolen from our library.'

6) My favourite foreign cover is definitely this one, from the Korean version of Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery 

7) Meeting the wonderful people who wanted to make Lia's Guide into a musical,. Halfway through the meeting they confessed that they'd already workshopped some songs, because they wanted to be able to show us how it might work. So, quite unexpectedly, I was watching viceo of my characters singing a song called 'It's Not Fair'...which was my constant complaint as a child. Surreal and fabulous moment. First of many connected with the musical.
8) Someone posted a picture of herself on Twitter with a quote from my first book When I was Joe tattooed on her arm. I cried.
9) Visiting San Diego with my first editor Maurice Lyon. I'd been a stay-at-home mum for years, while my husband travelled to Brazil, to Chicago,to Australia. Now I was the one flying off to California - California! -  for a librarians' convention. Amazing! I am still not quite over it, and I talked about it for months (so said my family).

10)  The librarian at my son's school when he was in Year 7 told me: 'We had a session about the publishing business, and Judah took over...he told us how little money authors get, and everyone was quite shocked.' (He'd said a penny a book). 


Penny Dolan said...

So good to hear of all your adventures and successes - and well explained, Judah!

Sheena Wilkinson said...

One of my earliest and best memories is nervously handing you a copy of Taking Flight at the SCBWI conference because I had an instinct you would like it. You were a speaker and I was a newbie, just published. In fact, I had to buy the book from the conference bookshop as I didn't have any author copies left...

It was worth the money!