I've been tagged in a new blog chain. This time it was by Mike Revell, whose children's debut STONEBIRD will be published by Quercus in 2015. You can check out his site HERE and his blog HERE. Mike had some great answers to this blog chain's questions (What are three things you write? What are three things you don't write?) so do go check out his post.
Just before I get into my answers, I want to share an Exciting Thing. With Eren only a few months away now, advanced copies have been going out. One copy went to none other than David Almond. My rather brilliant editor, Sarah, has worked her magic, got him to read it, and he's been nice enough to offer us a quote for the back of the book. Behold!
"Eren caught my attention from the very first page. I really enjoyed it. Sure-footed, distinctive, strange, poetic. Simon P. Clark is a truly interesting new voice." (David Almond, author of Skellig)
I am phenomenally happy about this. It's weird when people say nice things about your books, but it's weirderer when those people are childhood heroes.
(You can still enter to win an advanced copy of Eren, by the way, over on the Eren Tales blog. The Third Tale - Teeth - will also be going up some time next week. There's so much going on.)
|Nightmare - The Second Eren Tale|
Three Things I Write
Short Stories. I'm a big fan of short stories. I buy collections of them by my favourite writers, and I've always written them myself. I think they're important, especially for new writers. They force you to work on your pacing and your voice. When space is limited, the crap gets cut, and what you're left with should be only the best. Some of the most amazing stories I've read have been short stories. With the right technique, and a master storyteller, they can do amazing things. It's also a great way to keep fresh, to experiment with new forms and styles, and to test out ideas.
Children's Books. I may well write for adults in the future. I've certainly started 'grown up' novels in the past. Right now, though, the things that interest me the most, and the stories I want to tell, and aimed at, and about, kids. It just kind of happened. I don't intend to stay here all my life, but I can't ever see myself giving it up. It's brilliant.
Monsters. Maybe this is because I wrote for children, or maybe it's in spite of it, but boos have to have monsters - and monsters with real teeth, too. There's Eren, of course, but I've also written shorter pieces (some of which are on this site) about ghosts, and Death, and mysterious shattering women, and men who eat rabbits, and women who know the world is going to end. I think it's the darkness I enjoy - the fact you can hint at the fact there's so much more the reader isn't being told, and might not ever learn.
Three Things I Don't Write
And They All Lived Happily Ever After. I've never been convinced by happy endings. Where's the uneasy feeling that the tale will continue even if you close the book? Where's the creeping doubt that the monster might come back, or that it has a mother who's bigger and stronger and not very happy? Bring on the ambiguity, the unsettling pauses, and the feeling that the story isn't ever quite done.
It Was All A Dream. Not because I think it's cheating - after all, dreams are mysterious and unknowable and very useful for writers. No, the reason I don't like this approach is that it diminishes what dreams are. It's makes everything OK because it was just a dream. Just a dream? No. Dreams are dark and strange and real. "It was a dream," is the beginning of a story, not the end.
Morals. I'm not sure stories are meant to specifically teach one thing. Fairy tales are intensely moral, of course (though the original versions often had a far starker lesson than modern versions), but that's often a side effect of the way they're built up. There's something off-putting about a story that sets out to teach children A Thing About Life. It also opens the door to condescension. Who needs that, really? I'm with Philip Pullman on this one - wind the story up, like clockwork, and set it going.