Category Archives: WIP

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

So a few bits of exciting news in the last little while.

1) May Queen has a new title – The Treachery of Beautiful Things – which I absolutely love. So evocative.

2) It also has a release date (16th August 2012). Yes it’s 400 days away, but you know what? It’s a date. I’m going to have a -1 year birthday party for it while on holidays! 😀

3) It has an ISBN 9780803735804 This means SO MUCH to a librarian.

4) It’s available for pre-order.

5) And it almost has a cover! It’s SO gorgeous. Beautiful! But I can’t share it just yet as it isn’t final. But as soon as I can, I will.

So news! At last!

Oh the edits

It was admittedly a tight deadline, but the edits on May Queen (which may not be called May Queen anymore) went back on Sunday evening with Monday to spare. At the moment I’m mainly in recovery mode and looking forward to a bit of a break. And more edits, this time for Graffiti Angel (which may not be called Graffiti Angel anymore).

It’s funny how stories change, sometimes as you write them and sometimes during the course of the editing process. That’s the point of it, of course. To make it a stronger story, to make it better, shinier, to smooth out the rough bits or lop them off entirely if that’s what it takes.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love editing. I get completely absorbed by it. I was asked recently (while waffling away on Twitter as usual) about my editing process and maybe could I do a post on it. And I may–but not this post. I’m in the post-edit phase, where I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I have a massage booked for Thursday because the muscles in my neck and shoulders have tightened into something like wires and can’t seem to remember what relaxing is any more.

And yet, knowing that there are another batch of edits sitting there, waiting to be done, another book world to jump into and play with, it’s sooooooo tempting right now. Looking at them, just lurking in my inbox. They don’t have a deadline so I can take as long as I like to do them, and wait as long as I want until I start them. Before my agent freaks, that’s not going to happen, because that story is calling away to me and I know for a fact I won’t resist very long. (In fact I did the line edits last night… er… yeah, so much for taking a break…)

But this is part of why I love writing. Stories are magic. They pull you in, they absorb you in another world, and they can be really hard to shake off. As my mind is in an editing zone right now, it wants to edit. Simple as that. But right now I need a bit of a recharge and a chance to think about what needs to be done.

Yes, definitely need to do that post on editing process. Although I’m a little concerned about exposing to the world just how crazy I can be.


And the newsletter: the problem with newsletters right at the mo is there’s not much news – just me being editing-crazy. But I’ll have it out later today. Just be forewarned about the crazy, right? 🙂

Fairytales in fiction

Claire Hennesy has a thought provoking post up today about Retellings, where writers take well known and established stories like fairytales and folklore and use them as a base for their own stories, building on them, changing their slant or reworking them into something new. I started to reply there, but given the fact that I LOVE this subject, my reply started to get long, which is a little unfair on someone else’s blog. So I thought I’d put it here instead. You should of course read Claire’s post first! (but be warned, I now have MORE books to add to my neverending TBR pile).

For me, it seems to work the other way. Quite often I start out telling my own story and find that the fairy tale or mythic elements bleed through as the characters take on those ghostly archetypes that linger in the background of our cultural life. They are still my stories, my characters, still in their own stories but rather than deliberately drawing on archetypes I find they filter into the story in a subtle way (a hopefully subtle way). Because those fairytales are powerful things. They’re beguiling and whimsical. On the surface. But then you go deeper. And deeper. They tell raw and compelling stories when you whittle them down to their purest form. They have darker versions of themselves hidden away in the shadows behind our polished up 21st century versions.

So if I show you an image of a single glass slipper on a staircase, your mind fills in the rest and you go Ah-HA! If there’s blood on the slipper, or if the slipper shatters into a million pieces, your mind is both startled and intrigued. How has the story been changed? Or has it? Is there some older, darker version you haven’t heard before.

I think it’s part of the way writers often feel that stories tell themselves. That they run away with us clinging on for dear life via the pen.

So in my case a fantasy quest novel takes on elements of folklore and fairytales harking back to those older legends and the place of blood and sacrifice they came from. Or an urban fantasy set in modern day Dublin becomes a reimagining of the Percival legend with Celtic overtones and a heroine skirting to the wrong side of divine law.

Myths and folktales lend resonance to our stories and give a sense of a far deeper pool of storytelling behind them. It’s an exciting and abundant area in which to play.

Musical Musings on May Queen

Almost time for rewrites again and I’m getting myself back into the mindset for May Queen, my YA fantasy coming out next year from Dial Books for Young Readers.

As I’ve said before , music is really import to me. A song can encapsulate a feeling, a moment, and distill it so that even a few bars can bring memories and emotions flooding back. A song helps me key myself back into characters, their flaws and their dreams. Continue reading Musical Musings on May Queen

Lots to do

So, I’ve been slacking off a lot of late and I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things from now on.

The plan is to get some new words every day. What I usually do is aim to write 500 a day and more if I can and track it. I’ve recenly started a new project involving magicians (untitled as yet) so I’m going to focus on that. I also have edits to do on 2 projects but no deadlines for them as such. So if I get stuck I’ll probably switch to rewriting. Or if a deadline emerges of course. But I really want to write something new at the moment.

So, here we go.

Oh, and I just spotted the actor Andrew Lee Potts from Primeval and Alice – just as I imagined Jack in May Queen. Like the living image! Uncanny.

Next stage – the ponders…

I’m at that point.

Today (or at least that’s the plan), after the pre-requisite trips to the green-grocer, butcher and supermarket for anything we can’t source elsewhere, after the cooking of dinners and the referee-ing of small children, I’m going to try to decide what I’ll work on next.

This should be easy (I always tell myself). But it rarely is.

I am blessed/cursed with a lot of ideas, some of them very fully formed and ready to go. New ones spring up all the time and I tend to jot them down and then try to move on with what I’m meant to be working on.

So… I have a series of ideas folders. I have some initial research. In some cases I have a LOT of research. 🙂 (I like research.) At the moment there are at least 5 books calling for attention. Often there are many more. Continue reading Next stage – the ponders…

Edits Smedits

PhotobucketBecause I’m in the midst of edits…

And I want to share the grief…

Well, no, not really. I’m one of those strange creatures that actually enjoys edits. And I am enjoying these ones. It’s just that we’re going on holidays on Saturday morning. HOLIDAYS! And so I want the edits done.

As I am not editing right now I thought I’d write about edits – because my mind is slightly twisted by all the variety of spellings my writing brain came up with in the course of writing the first draft of this book, and my editor brain can’t really take it anymore.

Yes  – two brains. Writer brain and editor brain. They share the same head.

It’s noisy in there. Continue reading Edits Smedits

Life Happens

Real life that is.

So yesterday my superagent Colleen Lindsay announced that she was leaving us for a flightless bird taking a super new job with Penguin and I got lots and lots of messages from my lovely friends to find out what was happening to her clients. You’re all wonderful and thoughtful but everything is under control.

I am now represented by another superagent from FinePrint (she has a cape and everything, perhaps even a sparkly tiara) Suzie Townsend.

So all is well and I am happy and not doing my famous headless chicken impression AT ALL. *

Our relationship with our agents and our editors is a surprisingly close one. We create things together and that makes people feel close. It’s a wonderful feeling, if you ask me. I’ve been fortunate to work with fantastic people who have moved on to other jobs in my writing life, and in my day-job life. It’s part of the rhythm of things I think. I miss working with them, but they aren’t “gone“. They are still my friends and we are still in touch. (I love Twitter SO MUCH! But that’s because I’m lazy.) I love seeing my friends do well. It’s a good thing.

I feel really lucky to have worked with Colleen. I’m desperately jealous of anyone who gets to work with her in the future. She loves May Queen almost as much as I do and while a book deal might have happened, it wouldn’t have been this one. And my book wouldn’t have been the book it is now, or the book it will become (because we all know a book isn’t finished until its finally subbed for printing 😉 )

I’m also really excited about working with Suzie because… omg, just go and google her! 😀

I finished the first draft of Graffiti Angel last night. It’s rough and ready but I think it basically hangs together well. The people with the wip-whips (those friends who read my books piecemeal and keep me writing by various forms of threats and nagging) seem to like it which is very promising.

And of course I forgot to save it to drop box so its sitting on my laptop and I’m deeply paranoid I didn’t save the end properly and will have to write it again.

And there’s no one at home right now to check.

And I can’t drive home and check because my car is in the garage for repairs.

And my husband is in a playground which my children refuse to leave.

And.. and… and…

*deep breath*

Yeah, you don’t envy Suzie now, do you?


*not about that, anyway.

I am still here, I swear it

Although I am recovering from a weekend trip to Sligo to see Leonard Cohen play in the grounds of Lissadell house. It was a trip in honour of my best friend’s birthday (a significant one) and so we went all out. We flew to Sligo (my first ever domestic Irish flight). Sligo is the dinkiest airport I’ve ever been too (yes, even dinkier than Plymouth!) It has a range of amenites including a bar, toilets and a bar but only before the departure “gate”. It also has the opening hours on the front door. It is AWESOME! Continue reading I am still here, I swear it

Better late than never – RNA Conference 2010 post

Better late than never in so many ways. First of all it has taken me all week to get around to posting this. Secondly WHY have I not been going to this coference for years???

I am, as with most writers, not the most extroverted of individuals. Never really had been, although I can do a good impression when I need to. I was determined to make it to my first RNA conference this year and I am so glad that I did. Had a bit of a stressy trip out to the airport between a late bus and heavy traffic, and a bit of a stressy time at the drop-off-your-bags points when I found a large group of Japanese tourists had arrived just before me and proceeded to re-pack their luggage in the queue! But Air France/City Jet were wonderful and the flight itself was a dream. When the air hostess asked if I wanted a drink I had a budget airline flashback and just asked for water, only to realise too late they were giving out wine as well. And sandwiches. And boiled sweets for take off (a trip back to childhood). And chocolates just before landing.

I should warn you, food will probably be a theme of this post.

The DLR was also wonderful and in no time at all I arrived at our accomodation in Greenwich. Yes, it was like being a student again. There was a party going on as I arrived and my lovely flatmates were drinking wine out of plastic cups. That didn’t stop the hugs and warm greetings.

Another theme of this post will be the friendliness and fun-filled nature of everyone I met at the conference. I couldn’t have asked for a better gang to hang around with than the ladies of flat 20, but everywhere we went people chatted, exchanged ideas, joked and generally had a wonderful time.

Continue reading Better late than never – RNA Conference 2010 post