Tag Archives: children’s books

Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

Thanks to Michael S Fedison at The Eye-Dancers for tagging me in this blog tour, where the focus is on meeting the main character of our WIPs. I have been following Michael’s blog since I joined WordPress a year ago and read his YA novel, The Eye-Dancers, around the same time. Not only is the book a fun ride through a parallel world, Michael’s blog is always full of thought provoking posts and he’s one of the nicest guys in the blogging world. Now he’s writing his follow up to the Eye-Dancers and I’ll look forward to finding out where the characters are taken next. Check out his blog here. Michael writes some great short stories here too, so do go and check them out here.

Now if you are a regular follower of my blog you probably already know all there is to know about my main character as I blogged about him  in the April A-Z blog challenge, but this blog tour brings a bit of structure to proceedings so hopefully I can present him to you in a better way. So here goes: My main character: .

Toddington

1What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

His name is Toddington Rainstone and he is definitely fictional! He is an elfling – a three(ish) inch high being – who lives in Trelflande – a world under the ground. Toddington is very young for an elfling as they can live up to a thousand years. When we first meet him in the prologue he is fourteen. The next time we see him he is eighteen, but for the most part of the book he is twenty-one years of age.  By the time we reach Volume Two he is twenty-five and in Volume Three, which brings us into the modern era he will be around two hundred and seventy years old! Elfling ages work differently to our own though; they never  physically age after the age of eighteen. They grow in maturity but at two hundred and seventy, although still reletively young, an elfling is highly experienced in their field of work and it is at this time they usually begin a family, although tradition has it they marry young and spend years without children.

2When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the fictional underground world of Trelflande, although there are many parts of the novel where the characters come up into our world, known to the elflings as “The Over-World.” The action for the Volume One is set under England in the 18th Century, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The trilogy spans nearly three hundred years and as I say, Volume Three will bring the elflings to modern day Britain.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Toddington is orphaned at age fourteen. As a result, he becomes obsessed with work and it is all he lives for. It goes without saying that he works hard. He has a creative mind married with a practical streak, and his work is in design engineering fungi products. He is headstrong and impetuous; not always thinking through the consequences of his actions, but at the same time he is a highly intelligent elfling.  He is self centered and often oblivious to the wants of other elflings. At times his single mindedness can lead him, and other elflings, into trouble but equally there are times when this trait saves them. He doesn’t like unnecessary emotion and tries hard to cover his own.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The Toadstool compound, which is situated under an ancient Horse Chestnut tree where he lives and works, is uprooted in a sudden and cataclysmic incident. His workforce is killed, he is injured and he has to flee his workplace. In time he and his community are forced to leave the place where they have always lived as more of the trees where they make their homes are uprooted, and the elflings are forced to find another place to settle. After the initial shock, this additional loss in his life makes Toddington determined to fight and he uses his  creativity and designing skills to help do this.

5What is the personal goal of the character?

Toddington’s personal goal is to avenge whatever it is which has destroyed his business. It was all he had left of his father and he feels now that all the work he did has been in vain. Prior to his father’s death Toddington’s goal was to be the first elfling to explore the Over-World, but instead he buried himself in work. Once the catastrophe hits, and he has no work to live for, his main focus shifts once more to having an adventure in the Over-World and he believes the destruction from above, as well as The Prophecy, gives him the perfect excuse to pursue his dreams.

6Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title for Volume One is called Prophecy of Innocence. Volume Two’s working title is Two Tribes and the third volume has a working title of Return to Innocence. You can read more about Prophecy on the other pages on this blog or on my sister blog which is going to be for children.

7When can we expect the book to be published?

How long is a piece of string?! I can’t realistically answer that. As a first novel, with no publisher on board as of yet, it could be six months or six years. My original target was last December. (But obviously that has been and gone.) Then I shifted that to this summer. However as I’m heavily involved in re-writes and editing still that hasn’t happened either! I’d like to think (fingers crossed) that by this time next year Prophecy Volume One will be out there in the world.

 

Now on a blog hop, this is the part where I should have asked others to take part, but I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks so haven’t quite got there yet. Apologies Michael.

So something slightly different: If you are one of my regular followers or friends and you’d like to blog about your WIP’s main character then please send me a message and I’ll tag you on here and re-post and re-tweet. Sorry to be unconventional folks but heh, you just read the above didn’t you? 😉

Thanks for reading as always.

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K is for… Kids.

Of course  K is for kids. I’m writing a book for children.

Did I intend to specifically write for children when I began? No. Not at all. I never much intended to ‘be’ a writer at all! I simply had an idea for a story and found myself one day writing it. The story itself was heavily influenced by children’s books I’d read as a child and so it naturally followed it would be for children. When the idea for ‘Prophecy of Innocence’ first surfaced I began with a seed of an idea that I wanted the reader to believe that there could actually be little tiny beings of some sort living underneath our feet, so to speak. One of the things I personally look for in fiction is some basis in truth. I like the idea of an author writing about something entirely fictitious but making the reader believe that there is a slight possibility that there is something which makes the reader say: “I wonder if this is true…”

I have read Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo to many eleven year old children in school. Although I find quite a lot of the story slow paced and as a result not very exciting, I remember the first time I read it, even as an adult, questioning whether or not it was a true story. For those of you who don’t know it is written in the first person about a boy called Michael whose parents decide to go on a sailing trip around the world. A storm sends Michael overboard and he is washed up on a pacific island where he meets its only human inhabitant Kensuke. Kensuke is a survivor of the Hiroshima bombings at the end of WW2. Anyway, it is a perfectly plausible(ish) story but it is the postscript, so cleverly executed, which really makes you believe it could be real.  And every child who I’ve ever read it to always asks: “Is this a true story?” It is specifically written to ensure this question is asked though and I love the book for that alone.

I have mentioned elsewhere in another blog post how when I read Roald Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” I wondered if it was a true story. Looking back now I don’t think I’d wonder if I’d read it as adult, nevertheless as a young teen I did think it was in the realms of possibility and this made me read the story over and over again.

Happily, a few children I teach who have read early drafts of Prophecy have asked “Is it true? Do elflings really live under the ground?” Which is just brilliant to hear them say and makes me have a warm glow on a couple of levels.

On the other hand I have had some say: “There aren’t little elves living under the ground: That couldn’t happen miss!”

Amusing how the same age children can have such opposing takes. Some retaining their innocent, enquiring, trusting souls; others already cynical and mistrustful.

Would I recommend writing for children?

Well I don’t consider myself to be a writer for children in the same way as many other authors who seem to naturally have the gift for getting into the brain of a two year old or a four year old or, harder still, an eight year old. The book I’ve written I believe will suit the (roughly) 9-12 age bracket but that’s not to say younger children couldn’t enjoy it being read to them.

It isn’t easy writing for children though. Put it that way. Despite my job, I find children generally baffling little things and trying to get into their mind set sometimes can be tough. What do kids these days enjoy other than sitting on games consoles all day?

But to be clear I do not necessarily write thinking about children and the appeal to children specifically. I’m just writing a story which is in me. It happens to be on which I believe a certain age group would appreciate more than another. I don’t however follow the ‘rules’ of writing for children. My main protagonist is not a child. He’s a twenty-one year old (for the main part of the book) elfling. (So why not make this YA? Uuuurghhh. teenagers. I REALLY wouldn’t know where to start writing for them!) I also don’t shy away from issues of death and in fact include one. There is a marriage and some romance, though hopefully not overdone and is more of a means to an end than a major plot point. A book or children? Really? Yes really!

However, and this is important when writing for children: I don’t hold back on the use of more complex words as children can glean the meaning of more difficult words from the sentence and context around it. I don’t believe in dumbing down vocabulary for children. How else will they enrich their own? Luckily I don’t know too many truly fancy, flouncy words so I don’t naturally use them, but I can write at a high enough level for a ten year old. I guess teaching this age range also puts me in my comfort zone of what they can deal with.

Ultimately what I hope to create with Prophecy is a story which children can just enjoy for the sense of adventure it will bring. It is the kind of story I would have liked as a child. Perhaps it will never be commercially viable in this day and age of short, quick texts set in modern times but I’m not writing it  for it to become the next ‘big thing’. (Though the children in my classes automatically assume I will become famous, attain bags of money and give them some of it (this was actually said to me!) This is the world we live in. The world of unrealistic ambition and the clamour for fame and money. These of course been the only measure of success.)

However I digress. I just want to write a story. This is the story I had. I cannot force something else out. It may be old-fashioned, have a historical element and try to convince children there are elflings under the ground on which they walk but at least it’s unique. The first comment I had from a child was “I’ve not read anything else like it.” This apparently was a good thing.

I was certainly very pleased with that.

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Of Monsters and Men

FlotsaithI suspect a prerequisite of writing in the fantasy genre is that there should appear a mythical monster or beast in my story which delays or hinders the hero’s progress in some way. One may appear yet in Books 2 and 3, but for now Book 1 of Prophecy of Innocence contains no such character or characters. Not even a minor one.

No doubt this will come as a disappointment to many who may automatically expect the heroes of our story to battle and slay some terribly hideous creature at some point. So why have I chosen to omit such a key element of the genre?

Firstly and foremost  there has been no reason as of yet, to include one in order to propel the story forward. The enemies – the ‘baddies’ if you will -are human beings. In Prophecy men are the monsters. Therefore it seems superfluous to include any further major adversaries at this juncture.

Ah, you say, but what about Harry Potter? His enemy is Lord Voldemort, a wizard like Harry (albeit it a much more twisted, evil and warped version of a wizard). However, despite this,  the seven books are still littered with wonderful creations and versions of traditional mythical beasts, such as the three headed dog or the giant spider Aragog. Similarly in The Lord of the Rings trilogy we encounter the Balrog , Shelob and Orcs to mention but a few, although they are all minor characters when you think of Frodo’s ultimate quest. Nevertheless, these beasts exist in the stories and help to shape them. That is fine for those stories and other similar ones, but I just didn’t feel the inclusion of this type of character would add anything to Prophecy of Innocence. Yet.

Secondly, upon reflection, the exclusion of mythical type creatures was not even as conscious a decision as the above paragraph might suggest.  I think actually they are not included simply because the mythical beasts and creatures element of fantasy fiction does not excite me very much. It never has, even as a child. And if I have no passion for such an element then I don’t believe I will write about it effectively. The fantastical beasts, monsters or creatures found in such stories are generally the aspect of the tale I find least interesting, perhaps because I know they will be slain or overcome and so there is an anticipated and expected outcome. Personally, I rarely feel they add much. There are exceptions of course, such as The Dementors in the Harry Potter books, but essentially monsters and beasts are usually a means to an end. Either to hinder or help a character. I have simply found other means of hindering and helping my main protagonists.

As I am writing a children’s book, am I missing a trick here? Do children need and expect monsters in their fantasy stories? In the feedback I have received from children so far there has been no request to add any in or disappointment voiced at there being none included. Perhaps children just enjoy a good story with or without mythical beasts.

In both the epics mentioned above it has been more the struggle the main protagonists face against their own kind (essentially the human nature of the characters, even if they are not actually human beings) which has kept me gripped.

What is it that causes  Tom Riddle,  an ordinary wizard to begin with, turn to such evil? What is it about the nature of hobbits and men in LOTR which allows the ring to corrupt them so?  In Prophecy of Innocence  the themes of power,  good versus evil and the internal conflicts and struggles among beings exist, just as they do in many other traditional fantasy tales. The difference is I have chosen to explore these themes without the monsters.

Is mine a classic fantasy adventure tale in the true sense? Perhaps not. But then where’s the fun in doing exactly what’s been done before?

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