Wolves in Winter -The Watcher and The Friend and the Joan Aiken legacy, Part 2

Standing on the shoulders of giants In the first part of this blog, I wrote about my serendipitous discovery, over many years, as a teacher and a parent, of Aiken and the Wolves Chronicles. Here, I’m going to look at the links between her wonderful books and my own children’s debut, “The Watcher and The Friend”. It wasn’t until much later, after my book was written, that I realised the connection. Even when my editor had explicitly asked me about the inspiration, and the books I would compare it with, I did not come up with “Wolves of Willoughby Chase”. Budding writers will be familiar with this part of the process. Agents are thinking about selling, marketing, promoting. And that leads them to think about genre. What other books is your book like, so we can directly appeal to lovers of those books in the hope that they will give your book a…

Continue Reading Wolves in Winter -The Watcher and The Friend and the Joan Aiken legacy, Part 2

Wolves in Winter – Joan Aiken’s enduring legacy, part 1.

Right at the beginning of my first job as an English teacher, in South London in 1983, I was shown where the Department book cupboard was and told to have a rummage. This was cutting edge preparation back in the Eighties, when it was assumed that new teachers might have some ideas of their own about what to teach and how to teach it. I can still remember using that oh so familiar standard issue ILEA master key to gain entrance to this Aladdin’s cave of treasures. A gloomy, cavernous store hung with the smell of dust, chalk and cleaning fluids, it revealed its secrets fitfully as the neon strip light coughed into life, taking several pings before flooding the area with dazzling white light. I shut the door behind me. In the glare, the rows and piles of books covered all four walls and most of the floor. Later in my career,…

Continue Reading Wolves in Winter – Joan Aiken’s enduring legacy, part 1.

The Watcher and The Friend – published on June 11th!

What I've been reading recently is endless proofs of my first novel for children, "The Watcher and The Friend". And finally, publication day is approaching, with June 11th confirmed as the official launch date. It's a very exciting prospect and one for which I must offer some thanks to those who have played a big part in the book's journey. Firstly to Richard Mayers, whose patience and support were so important during the editing process. His skill and experience in suggesting changes were invaluable. Next, to my beta readers who generously gave their time to read an early version of the story. Once again, their perceptive comments, and their enthusiasm for the book, gave me extra impetus to complete the project. Finally, I must thank the students of Mayfield Grammar School in Gravesend, who were the unwitting participants in the book's first public outing. This is the time for my confession, as I…

Continue Reading The Watcher and The Friend – published on June 11th!