Monday, 9 May 2011

Fiction Express

I'm sure we've all read books where we wished we could have changed the plot. Recently I read a novel where one of the main characters was killed off completely unexpectedly and just when everything was starting to go right for her and I actually got in a proper sulk with the writer and refused to continue reading for several days! 

One of the most frustrating things about being a reader is that you have no control over the route a story takes. Or at least it used to be. New website Fiction Express is now offering readers the chance to get fully involved in the writing process, providing weekly installments of interactive e-fiction where readers get to vote upon the next plot twist. I was absolutely bowled over by this idea - it's such a great way to get readers engaged and it must be hugely exciting for the writers.

I caught up with Luisa Plaja, one of the authors involved, to find out more...  

"I'm thrilled to be one of the authors involved in the launch of Fiction Express , and I can't wait to hear the outcome of the first reader vote on my book on Monday. I have to admit that I'm also slightly nervous about the project, though! I know I've signed up for eleven weeks of high-pressure writing. I'm also sure there are going to be obstacles but I can't guess yet what they're going to be. I think it's all part of the thrill! I loved coming up with the premise for Diary of a Mall Girl. I thought long and hard about the kind of story that would fit the requirements for a Fiction Express novel in my genre. I decided that a shopping mall would be a perfect setting, as it can often be a hive of teen activity, with so much going on that there are endless plot possibilities. I've seen malls with residential areas and always secretly thought I'd love to live there - imagine the people-watching! But I knew that Molly, my character, wouldn't see it that way. There are advantages and disadvantages to living anywhere, I suppose, and for Molly, the gossip she has access to is nothing but trouble. I love the thought that I'll be engaging with readers and getting their input as I write. I can't wait to see where Molly's story will go...

Thank you for inviting me to your site."

If you would like to help Luisa with the plot for Diary of a Mall Girl, or any of the other writers involved in Fiction Express, please go to: 

Friday, 6 May 2011

Talk Like an Egyptian

Sometimes I wonder if "being a writer" is actually just an official way of being a big, crazy kid.

Let's examine the evidence. We sit around all day, creating imaginary characters and giving them imaginary storylines to play with. These characters then live in our heads like imaginary friends for months on end, as bit by bit, we plot out their world on paper.

As a kid, I was an only child until I was five years old so I invented a whole gang of imaginary friends to hang out with. Their names were (don't laugh) - Datchu, Gantry (I said, don't laugh!), Mr Jeweler and Cup of Tea. Despite the fact that no-one else could see them, in my mind they were as real as any other flesh and blood people. And I guess you need this same sense of magical belief when you are creating characters for a book. After all if you don't believe they are real as the writer then how can you expect your readers to?

It can get a tad confusing though. 

As well as writing my own YA fiction, three days a week I work for a company called Hothouse Fiction. At Hothouse we come up with ideas for children's fiction series, develop the characters and concepts, commission writers and then sell the books to publishers.

It is a really fun job but sometimes my head can feel close to bursting with all of the 'imaginary friends' I have stored there.

Let me give you an example. Right now I am working on seven different books and the characters I am creating include a talking shark, a love-struck teen, a robotic hotdog, a timid and tearful mouse and an Egyptian farm-boy.

No wonder I look confused when people ask me for directions - half the time I don't know who or where I am! Or whether I should reply with a squeak, a sulk or in ancient Egyptian.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Hen & Ink Literary Studio

I will shortly be featuring an interview with Erzsi Deak, my agent and the President of Hen & Ink Literary Studio, but in the mean-time, for those of you interested in what a literary agent does and what a literary studio is, please click here for an article recently published on the CYNSATIONS website.

Erzsi first contacted me after my self-published novel Dear Dylan won a national book award. She explained that after a career in publishing as a journalist, editor and literary scout, she wanted to take the plunge into agenting. I loved the idea of going with somebody brand new to agenting - it felt as if we would be sharing an adventure together. And that's exactly how it has turned out. Erzsi has negotiated a two-book deal for me with Egmont in the UK, with deals in France and Germany to follow. And Hen & Ink is now a thriving coop of some twenty or so writers. It's a great example of what can happen when you have the courage to take the plunge and pursue your dream...