* Congratulations, Sandra, on achieving a coveted place in Undiscovered Voices 2012! and welcome to tall tales & short stories.
The floor is yours, please tell us all about yourself, your writing journey and anything else you'd like to add.
I’ve wanted to write a novel for most of my life, but until a couple of years ago I never dared to - there was always some excuse. I’d written lots of poems and had a bit of success with those. I’d ghost-written a business book. And I had all sorts of rudimentary plans scribbled in all sorts of notebooks for short stories and non-fiction. But no novel.
Then the germ of an idea came to me – a skull buried in a wood on Dartmoor - and suddenly I was writing a 32-chapter plan. And it was for children, which I hadn’t expected at all. I wrote the first chapter furiously. Then I left it. It would probably have joined the rest of my false starts if I hadn’t slipped on black ice 300 metres from my front door at the beginning of 2010.
Recovering from a badly broken ankle meant a lot of time sitting in the house. I couldn’t go out and look for work, which was a bit of a disaster. But suddenly I started writing again. And the novel just came.
I entered the first few chapters into a scheme called Apprenticeships in Fiction, aimed at debut novelists. Incredibly, I got picked, along with four others, for 2011. I took a very deep breath, dug up the money and was in.
My mentor, children’s writer Catherine Johnson, was fabulous. She loved the book and she’s helped to make it much, much better.
So I entered the first 4000 words (3098 actually) for Undiscovered Voices. When I got the email to say I’d been shortlisted I ran screaming round the house. And when I got the phonecall to say I was one of the winners I wouldn’t be surprised if I caused temporary deafness. Sorry.
Now I’m waiting to see what happens. It’s nerve-wracking. And I’m playing around with all sorts of new ideas, because I really want to get on with the next one.
* Could you tell our readers all about your winning entry and why they are going to love it!
Gabbleratchet is a supernatural tale for 10-12s, told in alternate voices.
When truculent London teenager Matt is dumped by his divorcing parents on his uncle’s farm in Dartmoor for the holidays, he can’t think of anything worse. Unfortunately there is - his 12-year-old cousin Tilda resents his presence and is out to get him. And when the two find a curlew skull buried in an ancient wood, a terrifying local folktale stirs into life.
Malevolent birds haunt the warring cousins, intent on reclaiming the one that is lost. But they’re only the harbingers. If Matt and Tilda can’t sort out their differences, they’ll end up facing the gabbleratchet – a hellish apparition that rides the moor on stormy nights, feeding on bad blood. And soon the real battle is for Matt’s soul.
I love Dartmoor – it’s a weird place, and sometimes seriously frightening. You can get totally lost there – it’s a kind of wild frontier. There are all sorts of myths and legends associated with it, and I was fascinated by the idea of taking bits of these, mixing them together and bringing them to life. And of course making it all as scary as I possibly could.
...WIN a copy of Undiscovered Voices, by Working Partners & SCWBI-BI.
Your chance to read all the selected excerpts, see the fabulous illustrations
WE HAVE TWO COPIES TO GIVE AWAY!
It’s easy to enter -- Here's what to do!
• Leave a comment on the blog; say hi, leave your name and tell us if you'd like to be entered for the draw.
If you want to leave your email address that's great, if not, we'll be announcing the winners after midday on the 1st March, UK time. So make sure to check in here and on twitter.
All entries go into a hat and TWO winners will be chosen at random.
Sorry, but this competition is open to UK entrants only.
Midnight 29th February 2012, UK time.