Beaconsfield festival and more on Sunker’s Deep
March 23rd, 2014
Last weekend I went up to Beaconsfield in northern Tasmania for the first Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words. The name comes from the fact that Beaconsfield used to be a gold mining town – well, still is, though the mine is closed at the moment. The town is where two miners (Brant Webb and Todd Russell) were trapped nearly a km underground for two weeks back in 2006. There’s a plaque that points to the police station – that’s roughly where they were, only a kilometre down. Which is enough to set one’s spine tingling.
Anyway, the festival was good. There were all sorts of writers there, including Andy Griffiths, who attracted hordes of kids to all his talks. I did a workshop, two talks and a couple of panels – and the talks were huge fun. I always like to have some stories to tell when I talk to kids about my books – stories about where the book came from, what inspired different bits of it, etc. And I like to ask the audience questions, to make new stories with them.
We started off with the idea of a boy stowing away on a ship to Antarctica (there was a reason for this, which is a bit too long to go into. But if you ever come to hear me talk about Ice Breaker you’ll learn why). I then asked two questions: what was special about the boy, and what went wrong – because of course you don’t have a story unless something goes wrong. The kids in the audience came up with some brilliant ideas, and we ended up with the beginnings of a great story. (Someone was chasing the boy. When the ship got to Antarctica it was attacked by mutant sea-cats. The boy was the only survivor – and the sea-cats turned out to belong to the people who were chasing him!)
I had Sunday morning off, with no workshops or panels until the afternoon, so I went to Paper Beach on the Tamar River, which was my favourite holiday spot when I was a kid.
While I was away, I had an email from my editor to say they wanted me to do a bit more work on Sunker’s Deep. *sigh* I thought I’d finished it! But here’s the thing about editors – good ones, anyway. They are nearly always right. Not totally always, but mostly. And they thought I was starting the book in the wrong place.
Now they’d actually told me this before, and I’d played around with a new beginning before deciding that I liked the present one and wasn’t going to change it. But I was WRONG. I spent some time on it last week, and realised that their suggestion is so much better. It’s hard to get right, mind, but it’s worth the effort.
So, every morning I’m doing a couple of hours on the copyedit of Sunker, then another hour on plotting Fetcher, which is the working title for Book 3. It’s quite nice mixing things up like this – just plotting by itself gets a bit boring and frustrating.
The other Really Good Thing is that I’ve seen the rough version of the Sunker cover, and it’s terrific. Can’t wait to see the final.