Category Archives: Author Interviews
I’m delighted to host a guest post from debut author Finbar Hawkins about his publishing journey for Witch. This is a powerful tale of revenge, grief and sisterhood and is perfect for Halloween week. Later in the week I’ll share my full review but for now I’ll hand over to Finbar.
My Publishing Journey
I’ve always written, but even with seeing ‘Witch’ out on the shelves, I still have difficulty describing myself as a writer. It’s not so much self-doubt, I think it more springs from each new thing you write feels like starting again, finding out how to write again. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the feeling, and to be honest I feel it’s a good spur, a jab of the heels to keep me coming back to the blank page.
My route to publishing started with the Arvon Foundation. I had never experienced a writing workshop before, working on exercises to approach character, setting and emotion. The writing samples I brought with me were little short film ideas, so I wasn’t even writing prose at that time. But it was through a number of exercises in class, under our tutor Lucy Christopher’s guidance, that the beginnings of a story emerged, and I kept going through that amazing week and into the months beyond. Lucy is a lecturer at Bath Spa (now the Course Director!) and she had encouraged me (along with a number of my Arvon compadres) to apply. Through early morning starts before children were awake and work, the story that I started had now grown into approximately 30k. But I craved feedback, more of what I had experienced at Arvon – critical feedback from other writers.
I was delighted to get a place on Bath Spa, because over those two years part-time I started to write properly around critical workshops. And the thing is about workshops is that you have to raise your game – you’re delivering to a little audience, and you’re going to be hearing other people’s work, giving your own thoughts on it. I also learnt that giving a critique is just as important for writing, because you’re looking at the craft all the time, your training that writing muscle.
I decided to park the ms I had been working on since Arvon because in that first term, Witch came bowling along and demanded to be told. The workshop was integral again, because I had a very good set of notes from a group of other writers – who wanted to know what happened next. I was immensely interested also in the challenge of writing from a young woman’s perspective.
The core of the MA is about working on and delivering your ms, and from there we all then work on putting together an Anthology to showcase our work for a launch event in London. Agents and editors are invited along to this terrifying and exhilarating evening. There I met Catherine Pellegrino of Marjacq Scripts who had read and liked my anthology extract.
I knew Catherine was the agent for me, because she pushed me to make the ms as good as it possibly could be. So we set to work, and over several drafts pushed and pulled Witch into submission shape. I would stress that there is no real time frame for this, and you shouldn’t feel rushed. Let the ms ‘bake’ in between drafts, write other bits and pieces and then go through it taking notes. It will all be much the better for it.
Finally we both felt that Witch was ready to fly. And at the end of an excruciating week waiting to hear back from editors, it was Fiona Kennedy at Zephyr who from the outset pretty much demanded my book should be published by her. There were other others in the frame, but because of Fiona’s incredible passion for Witch, I knew I had found the right home.
My publishing journey has all been about some fundamental things – you need to take that first jump and put your writing in front of a critical audience (it’s hard, but you’ll get used to it); you need to trust your instincts when meeting agents and editors; you need to take your time; and you need to remember to enjoy it!
WITCH by Finbar Hawkins is out now in hardback (£12.99, Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus)
Follow Finbar Hawkins @finbar_hawkins and find out more finbarhawkins.com
I’m not going to lie I’ve been eyeing up both the Arvon Foundation courses and the Bath Spa MA for years and like Evey’s jealously of sister Dill I must try and keep my green eyed monster in check. Maybe one day!
Huge Congratulations to Finbar on a wonderful debut. Come back on Wednesday for my full review and do check out the rest of the posts on the tour running this week.
Today is the launch day for debut YA novel Legends Awake by Alex Stiles and I have a guest post by one of the book’s characters for you, letting you know more about one of the creatures that inhabits this new world.
First up let me tell you a little more about the book and it’s author.
About the Book
Alone in an unfamiliar world, fourteen-year-old Peran is suffering from amnesia. With society still consumed by decades-old war and the ancient sorcery of the Stoneborn warriors, he finds refuge in an academy of combat and survival. But Peran struggles to fit in, and when he defeats opponents beyond his skill, fellow students suspect his extraordinary abilities, leaving even his friends to wonder who — or what — he really is.
When out testing their skills, his dorm-mate falls victim to a coffin-mouth viper and only the Elin Shard can save him. Peran sets out to find the magical artifact, but to succeed against the legendary predators he encounters, he must first confront his true identity.
About the Author
“I was born in Bromley, England, in 1979. As a child I was a daydreamer, always away in my own world. It used to drive my teachers crazy and my parents too, especially on parents’ evenings.I always read books I could get lost in – fantasy, sci-fi, adventure – anything that would transport me to another world, time or place. I loved the escape, not that I needed to escape anymore than the next child, but being transported to another place, another world, that was magical.
As an adult, I still love books that deliver that escapism and decided to write my own. Squeezing writing in amongst a full-time job and a busy home life has been a challenge, but I am delighted to have completed my first novel “Legends Awake”. I have escaped into another world writing it and I hope that you escape reading it as well.
Holidays for me are all about escape too, and there’s nothing like climbing a mountain to achieve that. The Lake District, England, is my destination of choice. It’s an amazing place and I’ve no doubt inspires and influences my writing. Having recently moved, I now live in Somerset with my partner and am enjoying writing the second book, often accompanied by our three feline companions.”
Sniffits are one of many natural wonders of our world. A remarkable little creature, they are the clear favourite of the Striplings at Amicas Academy.
The length of a forearm and golden, sniffits have a light stripe down their backs and legs, with a black line running along each side. Males have a thicker black stripe than the females – they are otherwise indistinguishable.Sniffits have six stumpy legs and a small fluffy tail that provides little balance, which is a shame really as they are primarily tree dwellers. They move through the branches inelegantly but securely, gripping to the bark with sharp claws and feeding upon bugs and insects as well as the odd priggin. Up close, they have a squat black nose and thick white whiskers around a slight, inset mouth. Despite their appearance, sniffits can deliver a vicious bite and have a tendency to hang on until they’ve been talked out of it.
When you first meet a sniffit, what strikes you is just how fluffy they are, with pointy furry ears and two large, black eyes. You would be forgiven for thinking they might make for an enjoyable meal and their furs could keep your head warm in the winter, but sniffits are so much more. In fact, that’s exactly what our predecessors thought, and for hundreds of cycles they hunted sniffits for food and their coats. Until one day an anxious girl, who liked to keep to herself, befriended one. After a less than a moon-turn, people noticed she’d started keeping the company of others and by her side was the sniffit. One sharp-eyed father observed the calming effect the sniffit had on the girl whenever she looked anxious. She seemed to gain so much from the relationship that he encouraged his own children to find themselves sniffits. They soon found their furry companions and were all the happier and more confident for it. Word spread and gradually the sniffits found themselves saved from the stew pot to accompany the young people of New Haven.
Today, the sniffits are so embedded in our culture we have writings on them. So what’s so special about them?
A sniffit needs to be needed. They take pleasure from relieving stress, anguish, anxiety and other emotions prevalent in young people. The bond between a child and sniffit is strong, and a sniffit is very particular about who they bond with. On first meeting, they examine the very depths of the child, it has even be said that they can see souls. Once formed, the bond will last until the child no longer regularly exhibits those emotions – they no longer need the sniffit and the bond will break.The presence of sniffits is not always welcome, they can be mischievous and disruptive. This, though, is far outweighed by their benefits and here in the white-knuckle environment of Amicas Academy, all Striplings get the chance to bond with a sniffit.
Instructor in Flora and Fauna
What do you think? Would you like to bond with a Sniffit?