Friday 13 April 2012

A reading from Spooking

The lump was in his throat again.
The first drops of the rain they’d been promising all day fell on the windscreen.
He turned on the wipers.   
By the time he got to the motorway, it was raining heavily. As he filtered into the traffic there were flashes of lightening and claps of thunder. He turned on the radio to try and drain out the noise. He pushed his right foot down to the floor, bringing Binky up to her top speed. The music matched his mood. Rousing rock. He was going to fight this and he was going to win.
He steered Binky into the middle lane. The rain was now pouring over the windscreen like a waterfall. The wipers were going full speed, but he still couldn’t see all that well.  He was buffeted from the side wind as he drove out of the shelter of the lorries and cars he overtook. Their spray made it impossible for him to see.
He would have to be careful as he crossed the Hamble Bridge. Binky was quite light and could easily be blown off course. He lifted his foot slightly off the accelerator. Best not to go too fast in this.
He noticed the grey car first of all in his side-view mirror. A Saab, he thought. What was the idiot doing? He was going to hit him. He quickly looked in his rear-view mirror. No, he couldn’t get into the third lane. Chances were, even if he did, the Saab would still smash into him.
It was going to happen. There was nothing he could do.
Don’t try to straighten up if he makes you skid, he thought to himself. Steer into the skid.
He tried to relax his grip on the steering wheel. But not altogether – at least it was something to hang on to.
There was a thud. 


Spooking Party

Hi and welcome.
Do come on in .... 

We have cupcakes:

and champagne .... there are soft drinks too ... please help yourself.

 Folks are gathering just through there ....

Spooking party

Darren: Where did you get the idea for Spooking from?

I really have no idea with this one. Not at all. But Tom, Amanda and Marcus just walked in all fully formed.

Lucy: Are they based on real people?

No certainly not. I try to avoid making my characters like people I know. It can get you into a lot of trouble. Mind you the other day a couple of my first year students were behaving more like high school kids and I threatened to put them into a story.  They said “Oh yes, please. Will you?” You can’t win can, you?

Alex: But they’re real places, aren’t they?

Well, yes, the real life ones are. Yes. Hamble, the bridge across the river, the Menai Straits, the pier at Bangor … and a certain little blue ford fiesta that used to belong to my son, later driven by my daughter, was called Binky. She didn’t have quite the same adventures as Binky in the story, though.      

Greg: How long did it take you to write it?

The first draft took about six weeks.  I was lucky in that I went on a writing retreat for three weeks. Well- I was working as a writer in residence actually but had lots of writing time.  I got most of that first draft down in that time. Then it was back to reality. And as always, I spent a lot longer editing than writing. I think it was finished about nine months later.

Lucy: How long did it take you to get it published?

Well, I finished all of my editing in 2009. I sent it out to a few agents. One of them liked the sample chapters and synopsis and asked for the rest. She ultimately rejected it but said she would like to see more scripts from me. I then put it on the back burner a while whilst I concentrated on other projects. Then I came across Crooked Cat who seemed to be looking for exactly what Spooking is. A couple of people I know are published by them. So I sent off my script and here we are.

Tammy: What was it like working with Crooked Cat?

Straight forward and fun. They’re very professional. There’s been all the usual editorial work, naturally.

Greg: But hadn’t you edited it carefully yourself?

Of course. But you know, a fresh pair of eyes … There wasn’t anything difficult. If a bit of text wasn’t working, it wasn’t working.  Mostly I agreed with the suggestions. If I didn’t, I just had to look for something different. What I ultimately chose was better than my original. That’s fairly normal. Thank goodness for editors!

Lucy: Is Spooking like the rest of your work?

It’s quite different actually. I usually write either for older teens or 9-11s. And my novels are generally a bit longer. Plus all those academic papers and the occasional short story or piece of flash fiction for adults. Spooking is a bit of a one off, actually.

Greg: So we’ll not be seeing any more stories like Spooking in the near future?

In fact, I am working on another text called Veiled Dreams. It would make a good companion novel for Spooking. Who knows, if Spooking sells well…. Look. I’d better go and socialise. There are more folk arriving.

“Spooking” Out Today

Well, today’s the day. Friday 13 April. Always good things happen to me on Friday 13 – for instance, Martin and I married on Friday 13 September.
Today’s big event is that Spooking is out! (YA paranormal romance.) Actually, it’s very romantic and the paranormal bit isn’t scary or irreverent.    
It’s possibly the fluffiest, most light-hearted story I’ve ever written. I really look forward to all of your comments. I’m especially interested in hearing from my students in my Writing Novels for Young Adults class. Is this a proper YA book? Does it obey the rules or does it bend them? And if you can’t afford it, guys, there will be one given away later. I’ll also be reading excerpts from it at the Prestwich Book Fest on 23 May, Prestwich Library 7.00 p.m. she says, unashamedly plugging another event. I’ll be there with Sherry Ashworth form MMU – another YA writer who is also an academic and she will also read from her latest e-book.   
It’s always a strange feeling when a book comes out.  A mixture of excitement and nerves. The type of useful feeling that makes you give a better performance when you’re on stage. Mind you, as a prolific writer and as a creative writing teacher I suffer from Constant Editor Syndrome and I have to stop myself editing as I read out loud.
But back to Spooking. It’s a nice little tale and I am rather fond of it. I think it sits well with Alex Smith’s Calling for Angels, published by TheRed Telephone. It’s a similar sort of story. We’ll gloss over the difference in age between the writers!
I hope you’ll read it … and give it a nice review, if you feel that’s appropriate. And come and join me later on this site, 4.00 to 6.00. British Summer Time for the real-time launch if you can. Bring teenagers!            

Thursday 12 April 2012

Blog Lucky 7 Challenge

Blog Lucky 7 Challenge

I have been passed my Lucky 7 by the talented Debz-Hobbs Wyatt, writer, my friend, business partner, conscience and my favourite dog-owner. (Rosie's Mum to be exact!) 
Lucky 7 is just a bit of ‘blog fun’ for authors.  This is my first time to be tagged, so I hope I am going to get it all correct.
The instructions are:
  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
  • Tag 7 other authors to do the same
Here is the seven line extract from page 77 of my novel Potatoes in Spring 

her harder. She felt so silly, but she was glad of the younger girl’s attention.
“There now, there, now,” said Mrs Cohen. “Oh you have been so brave. But it’s all right not to be brave all of the time.” She stroked Renate’s hair. She turned to the rest of the class. “Does anyone have any idea why Renate has come here?” she asked.
No one answered.
“Do you know yourself?” asked Mrs Cohen gently.
“It’s to do with me being Jewish,” stammered Renate.

On to the Next Seven
So the final task is to pass this Lucky Seven on to seven authors. I hope you'll all carry on following me!

Have fun! 

Monday 9 April 2012

Invite to the live launch of Spooking

A Special Invitation

Please come to my launch of Spooking, a paranormal romance for young adults, published by Crooked Cat.  
As well as launching all day on Friday 13 April - yes Friday 13 - my lucky day  - via Facebook, I'll be live online on Friday between 4.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m British summer time and I’ll be circling through the many rooms of the launch site - this blog site, Facebook, my personal email, my Salford University email and my Twitter account.(@gilljames) 
Do come and join the fun.    
There will be cupcakes, champagne and a tiny excerpt from the book. You may get to meet a few new people too.