Making a minor character into a major
I’ve now returned to
writing science fiction for young adults. I’m continuing with the Peace Child series. I don’t have a title for this one yet, so for
the moment I’m just calling it Peace Child
This time I’m
using a minor character form book four, The
House of Clementine (not yet published). I’ve worked on Petri Malkendy for
months before I started this latest novel.
Malkendy: yes, between this book and the previous one she has been adopted
by Kaleem. When we were still allowed to sit inside in cafes I’ve made notes
about her in one of my nice note-books as I’ve sipped my Americano. I’ve even
put her as a background figure in a short story. She has a friend Catbo, who is what I’m calling
an “animus-machine”. Basically he’s a robotic cat but one that has a little bit
of real cat inside him. He’s a talking
animal. People from my critic group have described him as a mixture of K-9 form
Dr Who and a daemon from Philip
Pullman’s Dark Materials. I’m glad my
SCBWI friends saw him that way; that is exactly as I intended him to be. The
short story is about him and his previous owner and about how he came to be
given to Petri.
It was only as I
discussed my work with my critique group that I realised where her name came
from. She is Petri as in petri dish. In her world, humans no longer give birth
but babies are “grown”. However, her father had a slightly warped sense of
humour. She has a debilitating skin disease that makes being in sunlight difficult
for her. This should have been picked up
at “conception” and she should not have been allowed to develop beyond the
petri dish stage.
I’m on chapter eleven
of a planned 33 chapters though I think the first rewrites may well produce a
few more chapters.
And in other writing
news I have now finished my book about the dark side of children’s literature. I’ve also had another Creative Writing
article published on Talking About My
The Young Person’s Library
This month I’ve
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A classic suitable for the fluent upper primary reader.
Another Narnia book, also
a classic suitable for the fluent
upper primary reader.
Current reading recommendation
This month I’m recommending Katie Mack’s The End of Everything .
I actually bought this book, with another one, for my husband’s birthday. It’s an academic book, so not all that cheap
but a quick look at Amazon today shows that you can buy it at a reasonable
price. He suggested I should read it. I
was a little hesitant at first because it is book about science. I love science but I
don’t always understand it. I needn’t have worried. This book is very readable.
Here we have an overview of how the world might end. We’re used to the Big Bang. Now we’re looking at the other end. Don’t worry, though, it’s billions of years
Katie Mack covers the five most important issues being discussed in
physics today about how it all might end: The Big Crunch, Heat Death, the Big
Rip, Vacuum Decay and Bounce. She also explains the Big Bang in detail. She
takes us by the hand and leads us gently but firmly through the intricacies of
a complex science. And also with a wonderful sense of humour.
Yes, The End of
Everything, Astrophysically Speaking, a well-researched, scientific, academic
book but written with the lay person in mind, is worth a read. Katie Mack is witty
and clear in her explanations.
Grab your copy here.
Note: these are
usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
This month I’m
giving away Citizens of Nowhere
Theresa May sparked a powerful debate when she announced
that global citizens were citizens of nowhere. She also gave us a marvellous
title and a great theme for a book. Is a global citizen really a citizen of
Aliens visit our planet in search of hope. But do they find it? A young girl is sent to
start a new life. Will it work out? There
is a boarding house where lessons have to be learnt before people can move on. Will
the guests progress? A white woman who doesn’t understand her black neighbours
is saved in more ways than one by the wedding next door. These global citizens
are certainly citizens of somewhere. Did
Theresa May really mean that global citizens are citizens of now and here? Was
it a slip of the tongue?
We approached several writers who we knew cared about these
matters and who also write beautifully. Other stories just fell into our laps –
they had been submitted to other anthologies and seemed to suit this one.
Citizens of Nowhere is
an anthology of literary short stories with a message by multiple authors. Download
your copy here.
Note: Normally my
books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from
£0.99 to £10.99. Most on Kindle are
about £2.99 and the average price for paperback is £7.00. Writers have to make
a living. But I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you
The Schellberg Project
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with
the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust and also for
other writers and readers of historical fiction.
Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to
There were four posts in April:
I’ve brought some more attention to Clara Lehrs:
I’ve been sending out books for review and have also sent my
play out again: Getting
Clara Out There and a Direct Approach.
Thoughts About Clara Lehrs I ask again whether her story is a tragedy or a
story of hope.
I explain about a curious marketing action in Marketing
Ink is a review of the book of the same name by Martha Leigh. It is a biographical
account of Martha Leigh’s family. Her mother was a displaced Jewess. Her father
was a homosexual who loved his wife in a different sort of way. An interesting
I’ve suspended these until further notice. I’m now starting
work on a series of on-line materials.
Some notes about my newsletters and
They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they
Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit,
Chapeltown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General
news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.
The Bridgetown Café Bookshop where
you can buy my book and books published by Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit,
Chapeltown Books and The Red Telephone.
We’re building up our inventory, so please bear with us. Visit us here.
Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.
The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit –
for the consumer rather than for the producer.
Sign up here.
Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School
Visits and Events. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it here.
Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and
workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.
Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign
A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access
The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative
cafés. See them here.
CaféLit Stories Find these here
Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View
Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that
have taken me out of my editor’s head and a reminder of the ones I’ve
highlighted in this newsletter.
Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.
The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project.
Read it here.
Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing. Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.
Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new
books. Find them here.
The Young Person’s Library The children’s
book catalogue. Access it here.
Fair Submissions Find
Opportunities for writers are added several times a day. Roughly once a
month I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.
Happy reading and
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