I went to Laurentian Regional High School yesterday and spoke with Secondary I and II (Grade 7 and 8) students who’d been reading my novel, All Good Children, in class. The students were great audiences: attentive, informed and enthusiastic. They sent me a long list of questions in advance of my visit, and I tried to incorporate my answers into my presentation.
Being a lazy blogger, I decided to stick my answers to their questions here, too, as a handy already-did-that-work series of blog posts. I’ll tackle one question at a time to maximize my return on effort. Here goes….
Question #1. Are you currently writing any books?
Yes. I am always writing MANY books. Too many. I’m drawn to the fun stuff — working out ideas, researching cool facts, drafting scenes, staring out the window imagining a story come to life. And I’m put off by the tough stuff — revision, submission, revision, submission, revision. I naturally get a whole lot of books past the starting line. I just don’t get too many to the finish line. (And sometimes that’s for the best– see my post on Good Ideas gone Bad.)
Here are a few works-in-progress that I hope to finish sometime soon:
Can I Keep Him?A literary thriller for young adults about a pair of star-crossed lovers divided by trauma who may finally be getting together but nope, there’s an obsessed young woman out to ruin their lives, steal their stuff, publish their secrets, and maybe frame them for murder. (This one is written — overwritten, in fact — but it needs a bit of spit and polish and lots of red ink to fix it up.)
Bremen. A middle-grade novel re-envisioning The Bremen Town Musicians, about four unwanted animals taken in by a disabled young magician and her mother, whose farmhouse is invaded by robbers. (This one has a skeleton written, but it’s sadder than I want so I put it aside until summer, when I’ll be bouncy and optimistic and able to revise in a way that won’t make the reader want to give up on the world.)
The Best Designs. A verse novel about a teenage single father and the image-conscious design student who falls in love with him. Everybody says they won’t last, but it’s hard to tell which one is too good for the other. (I’ve written a slew of poems for this one but it’s incomplete and needs a happy ending.)
Three Crows. Three short middle grade novels that begin with a lonely child finding and raising an injured crow. One comedy, one horror, one historical drama. Together saying something stunningly intelligent about the ways we connect with nature. (This one is plotted and many scenes are drafted but I haven’t written the stunningly intelligent bits yet. Alas.)
Cabin Tales.Four kids tell ghost stories around a campfire and become the characters in a final scary story. Mwah hah hah. (This one is badly drafted. I almost gave up on it but I wrote a new horror story this week that’s awesome, so now I’m thinking I can make my draft a zillion times better. How hard could it be, right?)
Insanity. Experimental YA fiction about a girl whose mentally ill sister was killed by a psychopath who’d been tried for former violent crimes and judged Not Guilty by reason of Insanity. (This is just a pile of research and ideas. So of course it’s my favourite. I can’t decide whether the narrator herself will “go insane” with thoughts of vengeance, but I’m leaning that way.)
I also have a bunch of picture books drafted – Puppycats, Ten Toes, Hibernation Blues – that are sitting in my outbasket, along with some new short stories that are good to go to various journals. I have to get off my butt and submit them to publishers. Because I LOVE talking to young readers, and you can only get young readers if you have some books for them to read. So I’d better finish a few more. Like now.
I still have 39 questions to answer but that’s enough for this Friday. If anyone wants to tell me about their works in progress, their reluctance to let go of a story, their submission blues or their experiences raising orphaned crows, I’d love to hear it.