Monday, 17 August 2009

Malorie Blackman: A Week In The Life Of...

Malorie Blackman is an author who needs little introduction. She has written over fifty novels, many of which have won literary prizes, and has also written many things for T.V. On Saturday 22nd August Malorie will be doing a sell-out event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. For the past week she has been writing a daily blog for us to give us a taste of what it's like to be a successful author. We were amazed she'd had time to fit this in when we read about how busy she'd been...

Day One
I had a great time co-tutoring on a ‘Writing Books for Young Adults’ Arvon course at Lumb Bank in Hebden Bridge with my friend Melvin Burgess. It was such fun but goodness me, it was hard work. Not just for me and Melvin, but also for the other writers who attended the course. We started each morning at 9.30am and didn’t stop most nights until around 11pm. We wrote, we read what we’d written, we wrote some more and we discussed all aspects of publishing. On Wednesday, the author Catherine Fisher came to read to us from her book Incarceron and she answered loads of questions. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my week but when I got back home, I was absolutely knackered! Can’t wait to do it again!

Day Two
Laura Kelly from the Scottish Big Issue interviewed me over the phone today about my writing in general and my latest book Double Cross in particular. I think I began each sentence with either ‘Er…’ or ‘You know…’ and I waffled horribly. I sounded just like Misty at the beginning of chapter one in Double Cross. I put the phone down wondering if it was possible for a person to sound any more inarticulate. I hope Laura manages to get something reasonably coherent out of what I said. Damn, but I’m useless at interviews. She made me laugh though when she said that some people (presumably those who have never bothered to read the Scottish Big Issue), assume that every article is going to be about homelessness. Some people have started to refer to me as the ‘Issues writer’ with a capital ‘I’ - which makes me smile. I’ve written close to sixty books, only a handful tackle ‘Issues’. But, ah well.

Day Three
Did a webchat for today. People sent in questions and comments and I did my best to answer as many of them as I could in the hour I had. It’s a shame you can’t see the faces of the people who ask the questions. I like faces. But if you can’t chat in person, answering questions via the Internet is a great way to communicate with more people. It never ceases to amaze me that I get emails from Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, America and all points in between. Our world is definitely getting smaller and smaller. And the great thing about answering questions over the Internet is that I can sit at my computer with my hair a mess and wearing no make-up and I won’t frighten the questioners away. Let’s hear it for webchats!

Day Four
I’ll be in Edinburgh soon, doing my thing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’ve decided to talk about how and why I became a writer and I’ll read a short extract or two from Double Cross. I do hope those in the audience come with lots of questions for me as that is the part I enjoy the most. Before any festival event I always get so nervous. I mentally kick myself for agreeing to do them but once I’m on stage and chatting away, I really enjoy it. But it’s the five minutes before I go on stage which is a killer! My heart is racing away and I tend to feel like I’m going to be sick, I’m that nervous. But it tends to be worth it – and the Edinburgh Festival is definitely one of my favourites. Plus my hubby Neil is from Edinburgh so that’s another reason why I love the place. (I have to write that ‘cause my hubby is currently looking over my shoulder as I type!)

Day Five
Today is my day for reworking a short story I wrote recently. I put it away and read it a couple of weeks afterwards and discovered the voice of the young adult telling the story was all wrong. I hate it when that happens. So I’m practically rewriting the story, in the first person this time as opposed to the third person. And already it’s working so much better. I’ve done that a number of times actually. When I started writing my book Noughts and Crosses, it was originally going to be Sephy’s story for the first half of the book and Callum’s story for the second half, but when a story of mine isn’t working, it’s like fingernails scratching up and down a mouse pad – only inside my head. That’s when I tried alternating the chapters between Sephy and Callum and the fingernails stopped scratching. When I wrote my book Cloud Busting, I tried it first of all as a prose story but the fingernails came back. And then I tried it in verse and the fingernails relaxed. Now I’m reworking my current short story, the fingernails are quiet – but I sense they are poised, so I’d better get it right!

If you're not one of the lucky people with a ticket to Malorie's EIBF event on Saturday, here's a video of her talking about Double Cross.

Other News:

PanMacmillan and Penguin are joining forces to stage a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy convention - "Hitchcon 2009" - in October to mark the 30th anniversary of Douglas Adams' series, and the publication of Eoin Colfer's authorised sequel And Another Thing...

Audiences now have another opportunity to hear Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, speak at the Book Festival. Following the early sell-out of her first event, a second has been added to the programme on Tuesday 18 August at 6.30pm offering a magical celebration of her poetry accompanied by the music of John Sampson.

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