Thursday, 19 September 2013

Don't worry, we'll think of a title...

Anyone who has read Andy Flegg will know he and I have a bit of an obsession with movies. 

In the novel I’m working on at the moment, I've taken this one step further and included several fictitious movie titles of my own.

The idea is that the main character’s father works as a stuntman on B-movie mockbusters – a genre that I've grown to love since we discovered Universal Channel on our TV. Seriously who can forget timeless classics like SharkNado.

Anyway, as a result I've had hours of fun coming up with my own imaginary mockbusters – such sure-fire hits as Nightmare on Elmo Street, Zombie Clown Killers, Poultrygeist 2: Return to the Coup (yes- it’s about evil chickens) and Silence of the Hams (evil pigs).

But if you think I've lost the plot and they’re too far fetched to be credible, then I’m guessing you don’t watch as many terrible films as I do.

Why not check out the Rotten Tomatoes clip below and then tell me, mine are too stupid. And in case you’re short for time, my personal top five from the video would have to be:
  1. Night of the Hell Hamsters
  2. The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
  3. Fat Guy goes Nutzoid
  4. Death Bed: The Bed that Eats!
  5. The Incredibly Strange Creatures who stopped living and became mixed up Zombies.


 FYI In case you didn't know, Don’t Worry We’ll Think Of A Title just happens to be the title of a real movie too!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Top ten best and worst things about being a kid's fiction writer

Alright, I've finally decided it's time that I gave something back to the literary world. This post is for anyone who is currently harbouring dark thoughts of becoming a kid's fiction author. But I'm guessing it applies for all kinds of writers really. Anyway here goes:

My top ten best things about being a kid’s fiction writer (in no particular order)
  1. The thrill of seeing your book on the shelf of a large book-shop for the very first time. This is only surpassed by having the opportunity to rearrange their shelves and make a massive display of it, while other members of your family distract the shop staff.
  2.  Having a publisher tell you that they love your work and want to pay you buckets of money to publish it (‘bucket’ is obviously a subjective term here).
  3.  Randomly stumbling across a great review of your book that’s written by someone you’ve never met before.
  4.  Having a reader tell you that they loved your book and they can’t wait for the next one to come out. Or perhaps even better, having a parent tell you that your book has changed their child’s whole view of reading (in a positive way).
  5.  Getting to visit schools, events and festivals and finally fulfilling your secret dream of becoming a stand up comedian.
  6.  Being the star in the spotlight of a really great publicity campaign to coincide with your book launch. Then sitting back for six months and imagining that it’s become a massive best seller, while you wait for the first royalty statement to arrive.
  7.  Meeting other authors and realizing that they know even less about all the stuff that confuses you, concerns you, or that you simply don’t know about being a writer.
  8.  Getting to stay home and take your dog for a walk anytime you want.
  9.  Jumping out of bed in the morning with a desperate urge to rush to the keyboard and pour forth all the amazing ideas that have been banking up in your head. Then discovering that the day has passed in a blur of hammering keys and quality writing that almost certainly won't even need editing.
  10.  The unique sense of satisfaction that can only be gained by knowing  all those months of hard graft turning the germ of idea into something people will want to read, has totally been worth it.  

Top ten worst things about being a kid’s fiction writer (in no particular order)
  1. Getting asked to leave Dymocks after being caught trying to place your book in their front window.
  2.  Having a publisher tell you they don’t love your work (or even worse, receiving a standard format letter implying that they haven’t even read it, but there is still no way in Hell they would ever consider publishing it).
  3.  Reading a bad review of one of your books - Actually this has only happened to me once so far and I didn't take it personally at all because the reviewer was clearly a moron.
  4.  Having a parent tell you that your book has damaged their child in some way. This has only happened to me once too and I didn't worry about that either because I think the kid’s mum was the same person who wrote the review. In fact, I bet her kid never even read the book.
  5.  Doing a school visit and spending a hilarious hour doing a whole routine about how much fun Andy Flegg’s weird words are. Then have a kid ask afterwards if the book had any strange words in it! I think it's called ADD.
  6.  Waiting for six months to find out how many books you've sold, then finally getting the first royalty statement, only to find out that you really shouldn't have been spending all that money on coffee after all.
  7.  Meeting other authors and realizing that they know infinitely more about what they’re doing than you do.
  8.  Having a dog who constantly harasses you to take her out when you are desperately trying to concentrate on getting some works done.
  9.  Spending months of hard graft turning the germ of idea from a thought, to a plan, to a draft, to a pile of poo that you know must never be seen by anyone if you ever want them to take you seriously again.
  10.  Waking up in the morning with absolutely no idea what you are going to write about. Then spending the rest of the day desperately pursuing any household task that will keep you away from the keyboard.
 Obviously these are only my own experiences, but hopefully some of you might find them insightful.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Up, Up and Urrgh...

I know for a fact that many of the people I meet just assume that writers don’t really get out much.

That all  their ideas come from epiphanies in the bath. That if they bother to do any research at all, then it never goes much beyond the wonders of Google.

Well that might be true of some but it's definitely not my style. Most of my inspiration still comes from the classroom. 

Studying school yard dynamics is still a bottomless pit of content for me. Plus stealing great narrative ideas is a doddle when you're the one doing all the marking.

Still, sometimes I find even that's not enough. Like last week as I inched towards the final draft of my latest novel about a school full of phobia sufferers. I could never quite shake off that nagging feeling that there was still something missing. Some essential aura of authenticity.
There was only one possible solution - I had to be my main character. I had to live in his head. To feel those emotions first hand and to know what a gut wrenching fear of heights actually felt like in the flesh.

That's why I invested a large chunk of any potential future royalties in an early morning balloon trip for me and my family. Alright so it tied in very nicely with a bucket list present for my wife’s birthday. But trust me, it was definitely all about the book.

Having my own minor fear of heights certainly helped. But would it be enough I wondered, to truly tap into the sheer terror that a real phobic would experience?

My doubts only grew as the balloon crew assured us that there really was nothing to worry about. That ballooning was quite different from climbing a ladder. That the feelings of vertigo weren't the same at all.

And they were right, it was nothing like climbing a ladder. It was more like dragging a tiny wicker basket a thousand feet up a wobbly pole during a storm and then putting your life in the hands of a giant multi-coloured carrier bag. As for the vertigo I really couldn't say. I was too busy cowering in the bottom of the basket, trying not peak through the gaps.

I did lean over just the once, but that was only because the balloon crew insisted. Whilst writing this post I've just discovered that large hailstones can reach a terminal velocity of up to 180km/h. 

So my guess is that breakfast vomit has to be about the same. The good news is, it seemed to spread out enough not to be much of a danger to anyone watching below.  

Also we were mostly flying over sheep paddocks and I’m sure they've had worse. You could tell by the way they kept running away from the balloon.

So was it worth it. Has it helped? Did I find the true essence of my novel's main character? Hopefully you'll get to read the book and find out.