Wednesday, 24 March 2010

SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Winner: LISA JOY SMITH


Lisa's winning novel 

by Lisa Joy Smith

My book is a humorous adventure for 7-9 years. 
Alvin starts at Cosmo-tech Junior School and finds he’s the only human boy and everyone else is an alien. Then he discovers why – he’s only half human himself, and his ultra-brave alien side helps him to save the school from an attack of giant Space-Slugs.

Hi Lisa 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 have three daughters of 10, 7 and 2, so my life is a bit like my book – bonkers. Although I don’t always write nonsense, I’m sending out a 12+ manuscript at the moment, called Moth, which is a dystopian gangster novel! And I’ve just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel for teenage girls, as well as writing a sequel to Slugs in the Toilet. I write according to my mood, which is why I’ve got such a variety of things on-the-go.

I have written all my life, ever since I can remember, but it’s only since I joined our brilliant Norfolk SCBWI critique group that my writing has become close to publishable. Being prepared to alter my work and learning to never take criticism personally is the biggest step I’ve made.

I achieved an Honorary Mention in the 2008 Undiscovered Voices, and since then I’ve had four short stories published, three in the UK by Bridge House Press, and one for adults in the US.

I was inspired to write Slugs in the Toilet after speaking to Sara O’Connor who said few people sent material for younger readers and there wasn’t much humorous stuff either. So I sat down to brainstorm and a bunch of aliens popped into my head! I surprised myself by the amount of daft scenarios I could come up with, and I wrote the first draft in just a couple of months.

My journey from being announced as a winner was an emotional roller-coaster. An editor asked to see my work straight away, and I’m still waiting to hear if that publisher will take the book on. I’ve had several agents show an interest, but no takers yet. At first I felt lost because I was so excited to have been chosen, but my life was essentially no different. Every time an agent asked for my work I built my hopes up only to feel a huge anti-climax. Since the book launch I’ve had three more editors show an interest.....but no feedback yet!

I write for children because I’m still a big kid, I love having fun and adventures. Also, I’m surrounded by children all the time, and before I had my own daughters I was a primary school teacher. I’ve tried writing for adults, and had to keep thinking, will they swallow this? Whereas with kids you have to keep thinking, is this far-fetched enough?

When I was growing up I couldn’t get enough of Enid Blyton, but I also loved books for ‘boys’ because they were usually more exciting. I started reading books for adults when I was too young because there were no teen-fiction or cross-over books then. My first-love was the Belgariad series by David Eddings and I’m still having a long-term affair with Nineteen Eighty-four, which I read again for the nth time a couple of weeks ago.
The book I would recommend, although it’s not recently published, is Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now. It’s not often you find a book so absorbing that you forget who you are and end-up reading all night!


Nick Cross said...

Hi Lisa,

My daughters are 6 and 10, so I know how you feel!

It's an interesting point you make about the UV entries not generally being very funny - do you think we're all afflicted a bit by an adult need to be "serious writers"? I'm being encouraged by an agent to up the funny factor of mine for a slightly younger audience - which is fine by me!

I thought your extract was really entertaining and packed with great ideas - hope it goes somewhere soon and good luck with your other projects.


Anonymous said...

Clever, clever! It's true -- we were trying to encourage younger, funnier submissions, so I'm glad you took that on board. Look where it got you!
And anyone reading this and considering submitting for the next Undiscovered Voices (rumoured to be asking for submissions in 2011) should really, really consider the younger end. We're desperate for a 5+ age group project to make it into the anthology, as well as a couple more for the 7+, 9+ age ranges.
-- Sara OC

Tracy said...

I wonder if this age group and theme issue is something we should consider for submissions in general?
Might be time to dust down my own 7-9 book that an agent said was publishable just wasn't my break-out work!!

Jane McLoughlin said...

An excellent post, Lisa. I love the way you've got such a varied output...and know that the slugs in the toilet will see some light soon. Hope you find the blog, too! Good luck. XX JANE

Paula Rawsthorne said...

I'm so impressed with your output Lisa and all such varied genres and age groups.
I really enjoyed Slugs in the Toilet, it made me chuckle and I instantly thought that kids would love it.
I hope you hear great news from those editors soon.
All the best

Emily George said...

I'm incredibly impressed with all the writing you have on the go at the moment!
Interesting about the themes of the extracts that made it into the anthology - my Dad pointed out that there were 2 extracts with 'darkness' in their titles and 2 with 'dead' in their titles. Cheery bunch, aren't we??! Emily x

Julie Musil said...

Just discovered your blog! Thanks for all the great content.

Tracy said...

Hi Julie
Glad you like it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts

The Bookseller