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 sneakily pretended to my classes at Mayfield that reading the book was part of a publishing project, and that the publishers wanted reader feedback from the target audience before deciding whether to go ahead with a new YA novel. Anonymity was essential to elicit genuine, honest responses. In every school in the world, children being children, some students would automatically like the book out of loyalty to their teachers, while others would rip it apart, enjoying the teacher’s discomfort, like tearing the legs off a daddy long legs. I hope you all forgive my little deception!
It was a fascinating experience reading the book to these classes. The minute I started reading aloud, I knew the book wasn’t good enough, and I began to edit in my head as I was reading. That, and the thoughtful comments from the students, gave rise to an extensive re-write. The book is much better as a result of all of these interventions, and proves yet again, that writing can be a supremely collaborative process, if you’re open to feedback.
The book is available to pre-order – just use the buttons below. Follow me on Twitter and on this blog, and let me know what you think. If you’re a teacher in Secondary schools, have a look at the free PDF of teaching ideas for the book, on the Resources tab.They are aimed at Year 8, but they can all be adapted.