Sunday, 21 March 2010

SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Winner: EMILY GEORGE


Emily's winning novel 

by Emily George

‘From Darkness’ tells the story of a decaying city. 
After a night of violence that destroys all structure, people start to be Taken in their sleep by a Shadow that sends them to the edge of madness. Sera – who is an insomniac – has lost her mother to the Shadow when she meets Leon, who has no memory of his past. 
Together they travel to another, even darker world that underpins theirs, where Leon learns the reason for his existence, and at the same moment makes a decision that costs Sera everything.

Hi Emily and welcome to tall tales & short stories. 
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your experiences since finding out you were one of the winners?
I grew up in London, very near to Wimbledon Tennis. I have a degree in psychology, and work as a primary school teacher.

Writing has always been an important part of my life and I started keeping diaries at a very early age. When I was seven these masterpieces comprised lists of important information such as what time I got up in the morning, and what I had for my tea. At the age of nine I moved on to catalogue the many best friendships that were rock solid one day and over the next. By fourteen, the pages (and pages and pages) were full of excruciating teenage angst and insecurity, and my diaries suddenly became more interesting. From sixteen to twenty five I wrote out relationships and travels…

Then I moved to Cornwall, and started a nice job as a teacher in a school by the sea. And found I didn’t have the urge to keep a diary. The need to write was still there, just not in the same form.
So I started writing stories.

The first short story I finished was shortlisted for The Writer’s Advice Centre competition in 2008, and that was the moment I thought maybe I could do this; maybe my writing was good enough. Soon after, I began to work on ‘From Darkness.’ The idea came from thinking about what would happen if all the boundaries within a city broke down. How would it affect the residents, and their unconscious minds?

I never made a conscious decision to write for children – the kind of stories I enjoy writing just work better for children. When I was younger, books were my refuge, and, as an adult, I still find it comforting to read – especially those books I loved as a child. C.S. Lewis, Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome, Brian Jaques, J.R.R. Tolkein and Robin Jarvis all kept me going, often read under the duvet with a torch until late at night.

The best book I have read recently is ‘The Fire Eaters’ by David Almond. His writing is inspirational – it has this beautiful, other-worldly quality even when the subject matter is quite harrowing. Another author I love is Meg Rosoff - especially ‘The Bride’s Farewell.’

Winning a place in the Undiscovered Voices anthology has been phenomenal. There’s no other word for it. When Sara O’Connor called with the news, I was driving from Cornwall to London, so didn’t pick up the phone. I listened to the voicemail, and thought it was my friend, Sarah Connors, but with a very different accent! So I replayed it, and eventually worked out that she was calling about the competition. The rest of the five-hour drive was done in a (probably very dangerous) haze of expectation.

Since speaking to Sara, it’s been one excitement after another – getting in touch with the other authors and hearing about their successes; being sent the proofs and cover of the book; seeing my words in print for the first time; and receiving those incredible, never-expected emails from agents and publishers wanting to see the manuscript.

I have to admit, I was apprehensive about the launch party, as I’m not used to having to network and was worried everyone might discover I was a fraud who couldn’t even speak coherently about her book. However, the biggest problem turned out to be trying not to down my wine too quickly! Everyone was lovely, and even my plus one – Katie, an old school friend – enjoyed herself (while selling me shamelessly to anyone she could get her hands on!)

The whole experience has been unreal. I’ll be forever grateful to the two Saras, SCBWI and Working Partners for this opportunity – they deserve mountains of recognition for the UV anthology. It just remains for me to get that manuscript polished and sent off to the agents and publishers who are waiting…


Paula Rawsthorne said...

Hi Emily,
Very best of luck with the polishing. I really enjoyed your extract and I look forward to hearing really good news about your book in the near future.

Jane McLoughlin said...

Hi, Emily. A lovely post. I hope all goes well with re-drafts, submissions and life in general. Enjoy the ride! XX JANE

Emily George said...

Thanks you two! Still polishing...! Looking forward to reading your posts x

Nick Cross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Cross said...

This comment function is driving me mad! Last try...

Really well done Emily, and be glad you don't know Sarah Connor from The Terminator ;-)


Emily George said...

I wish I did... Now that would be something...!

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