Friday 28 September 2012

Welcome to the launch of Spooking  
Have have a cup cake

And a glass of bubbly.


Great news for teachers
If you're a teacher in the Greater Manchester area, or not too far away from Salford, I may be able to offer you a free school visit. This would be about 90 minutes long, and would include a reading form the book, a question and answer session, a creative writing exercise with your class and a chance for your students to buy a signed copy.  Email me here for availability and to discuss details.
For schools further afield, I can offer a question and answer session. Just buy two signed copies of the book and I'll answer 20 questions form your students. Use the Add to Cart button below:      

Free copies 
I'm giving away five e-book copies via a draw between all the people who submit  an interesting question via the comment box below.

Continue following on Twitter and Facebook
I'll be adding more and more material to this site and letting you know via Twitter and facebook tomorrow.
Now for an excerpt from Spooking  
This is one of my favourite pieces. At a reading recently I actually sang part of this.

It was night-time. Tom could hear gentle snoring. His eyes got used to the dark and he realised he was in a student room. Kevin’s. Marcus was sitting up on top of the bookshelf, flicking through some of the books. 
“Twenty heavy text books, lined up by the wall,” he sang. “And if one heavy text book, should accidentally fall. -” He took one of the books and threw it to the floor.  - There'd  be nineteen heavy text books lined up by the wall.”
One by one, Marcus tipped the books on to the floor. Then he wrenched the shelf away from the wall, so that it looked as if the shelf had given way under the weight of the books.
“Blimey, ‘e’s a good sleeper,” said Marcus, “We’d better do summat about that.” He floated over and took his mouth organ out of his pocket. He played a bell chime over and over again, getting louder each time. “Wake up Kev-in. Kev-in wake up,” he sang finally.
Kevin woke up startled. “Who’s there?” he called. “What’s that?” He snapped his bedside light on. “Oh Christ,” he said, as he saw all the books on the floor.
“Do not take the name of the Son of God in vain,” said Marcus in a very solemn voice.
“Can he hear you?” asked Tom.
“Just about,” said Marcus. “Not loud and clear like you can. Quiet enough that he might think he’s imagining it. ” He put his finger to his lips.
“Is there somebody there?” asked Kevin, his voice a bit wobbly.
Marcus stretched his arms out in front of him and went “Oooh” Oooh!”
Tom had to bite his fist to stop himself laughing.
“Can he see you?” asked Tom.
“He might be able to. If he’s sensitive enough,” said Marcus. “But by the morning or even as soon as we’ve gone, he’ll probably think he imagined it or dreamt it.”
“What about the books, though?” asked Tom.
“Well, he’ll just use those as the explanation about what give him the nightmare.”
Kevin was looking a little less startled. He got out of bed and started straightening up the books.
“Oooh! Ooh!” went Marcus again.
“Who the Hell’s there? What do you want?” shouted Kevin.
Marcus shuddered. “Do not mention the name of the Bad Place in vain.” Hhe spread his arms out in front of him again in classic ghost fashion.
“What?” cried Kevin. “What do you want?”

“He can see me all right,” said Marcus winking at Tom. 
Tom really had to bite his fingers hard now to stop himself laughing. 
“You can’t be for real,” said Kevin with a sneer. “Who the Hell are you?”
“Do not mention that dread place,” quivered Marcus.
Tom couldn’t help tittering. 
“Who’s there? What do you want? What’s so funny?” cried Kevin. His face was white.
“I have told you,” droned Marcus. He blew Kevin a kiss.
Kevin shivered. “Yes, all right,” said Kevin, pulling his dressing-gown on. “Now leave me alone.”
As Kevin opened the door to his room, Marcus blew at a stack of papers on the table. They too ended up on the floor. Then he slammed the door. 
(I have taken a couple of spoilers out of this!) 

Question and Answer Session

What was your inspiration? 
I actually can't remember. But the car in it, Binky, a blue Ford Fiesta, belonged to my son and then I bought it off him and allowed my daughter to use it. Some of the story takes place near Southampton, where I used to live, and some of it takes place at the University of Bangor, where I got my PhD.    

Did it take long to write? 
About nine months, including all of the editing I did before I sent it off. I try to write 2000 words a day.  Or deep edit 6000, or read through 10,000 or any combination of these. I usually work on more than one project at a time.    

Was there a particular reason to write it?
I wanted to start a new project whilst I was on Tenerife. The story had been flapping around at the back of my mind for some weeks. It also acted as a break between two volumes of my Peace Child trilogy.

When you were a student yourself did you ever imagine that one day you would be a published author and a lecturer?  
I always wanted to write but kept not getting round to it. My first degree was in modern languages, and I became a language teacher. I did everything I could in that profession. Then it was time to move on. So, I started writing - children's books and educational materials. I still like reading in other languages however. I kept the dream going even though at first I wasn't successful. I then had a chance to do a masters in Writing for Children.  The dream widened. I now wanted to be published and talk with authority about writing to university students. I wanted to be asked to do readings. Then I was published and started getting invited to talk to groups. I started a Ph D in Creative and Critical Writing. I was asked to teach some undergraduates. Then I got the Ph D and the post at the University of Salford.
It was always important to keep the vision alive.  Which is why I say IF you  really want to do it you can. But it is a big IF isn't it?  

Did you have a "What if?" question in your head when you wrote "Spooking?" and what was it? 
I guess I did. What would happen if.... a young man died in a car crash before he had really sorted things out with his girlfriend? So yes, the "what if" question is important. But some other things go on as well ...  

How do you determine how to end the story? Do you pretty much know the direction you'll take before you begin writing? 
I think I always know the beginning and the end of the story. But it can meander a little between those two points. Yes, and that beginning and end usually makes up the first statement of the query letter.
With Spooking also both the opening scene and the closing scene were pretty clear in my head ... and kind of similar!      

Do you plan all your story lines up front, or do you see where it takes you and add sub plots as you go? OR a mixture of the above?
Really a mixture, I guess. I do quite a bit of planning. Opening, complexities, crisis, climax, resolution. Then think about sub-plots. I also spend quite a bit of time on the characters and setting before I start. Often, though, mainly in my head - while I'm driving, cooking or walking. Many ideas actually come as I write.       

I'm interested that you were a language teacher. So was I. What age groups did you teach and how did this input on your book?

I taught mainly 11-16 though I have taught younger and older, and adults as well. I don't think languages come into this one that much BUT I wrote most of it on Tenerife and was speaking a lot of Spanish at the time. And yes, I have another ide for a book from that time there - it's in a queue behind two others. Some of the scenes in Spooking take place very close to a school where I used to teach. It's possible that both Tom and Amanda went to that school. Tom's French teacher's a bit useless and absolutley not based on anyone I know, though she does say something to her students that is similar to what one of our teachers used to say to some of us ....
BTW J K Rowling an I share a chemistry teacher ... who was the model for Snape.
People need to be careful around writers. We might put them in books!  Actually, though, I'd say that that can be quite dangerous.
Going back to languages: maybe my trademark is that I'll often sprinkle a few foreign words into what I'm writing.  Sometimes they're form a real language and sometimes they're made up.     


Lorrie Porter said...

Hi Gill

Did you have a 'what if' idea in your head before you started writing Spooking, and if so, what was it?

Unknown said...

How do you determine how to end the story? Do you pretty much know the direction you'll take before you begin writing?

Becky Bertram said...

Hi Gill - do you plan all your story lines up front, or do you see where it takes you and add sub plots as you go? OR a mixture of the above? Good luck tonight x

Cameron said...

Interested that you were a language teacher. So was I. What age groups did you teach and how did this input on your book?