by KATE HUNTER
Have you ever wondered why authors thank their editors? I know I did. Until I wrote a book – or rather, I wrote some stories. An editor and a publisher turned them into books. Even now, I’m not quite sure how they did it, and there are three books in the world with my name on the spine. Who could have imagined?
The Mosquito Advertising series is about a bunch of kids who start their own advertising agency. Katie (really stretched myself there) and her mates are 13, argumentative, resourceful and largely unsupervised. They watch too much TV, are addicted to Barbecue Shapes and will wag school if business demands it. Their parents and teachers are peripheral characters in their lives.
One reviewer described Mosquito Advertising as, ‘The Famous Five Meets Gruen Transfer.’ I was chuffed. I love Enid Blyton and Wil Anderson equally. Interestingly, they’re both a bit fucked up, with little regard for rules. I wonder if there’s something in that?
Since I became a children’s author (a title I dislike – I prefer ‘writer’) I’ve started going to courses and seminars and reading books about writing. Nothing like a publishing deadline to make you realize how little you know.
So only recently have I learned there are RULES for writing children’s fiction.
And, oops, I broke almost every one.
• Kids are into fantasy, vampires and science fiction. This is true, of course. Lots of kids love these genres. But, not ALL kids. I didn’t. My 11 year old son doesn’t. And why would anyone try to write another one when the shelves are already so crowded? Zig when others zag, that’s my motto. Of course, JK Rowling is the richest woman in Britain – richer than the Queen. In contrast, I’m still comparing prices on laundry liquid.
• In a children’s book, the main character must be in every scene. Bugger. Didn’t know that one. I wrote my books like movies. Action happens in boardrooms, in factories, at school, in the first class cabins of jumbo jets. Sometimes Katie’s there, sometimes she’s not. Readers seem to work it out. Kids like being flies on adult walls.
• Write what you know. I stuck to this rule, mainly I’m lazy, and advertising is something I know. But what would life be like if authors didn’t create worlds, delve into history, mix up eras and ask ‘What if?’ Surely you don’t have to be a murderer to write a murder mystery.