'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 16 September 2011

Guest Post: Fast-Tracked Junior Fiction with Simon Haynes

KBR warmly welcomes author Simon Haynes with this wonderful post on his incredible Hal Junior writing journey. We hope it inspires you!

There's an old saying that everyone has at least one book in them. Over the past few years I've sweated out four of the things, and after writing over a million words and polishing endless drafts I began to run out of steam. I truly believed I'd sucked the well dry.

There I was, working away on book five in my teen/adult Hal Spacejock series, when inspiration hit like a bolt of lightning. Unfortunately it wasn't inspiration for the book I was writing at the time. No, this was a whole new series. A junior series. Hal Junior!

Now I have two teenage daughters, and it's a long time since I was ten years old. What made me think I could hit the right note with a junior novel? I'll tell you ... my amazing childhood, and all the school and library visits I've done over the years.

Even though I write fiction for teens and adults, more often than not I do school visits for upper primary ages. Kids that age still think reading is cool, and authors have a certain mystique about them. I talk about writing, give them anecdotes from my childhood, and lay out the life of a typical author. (The limos, the VIP parties ... you know the deal.)

The anecdotes are the best part. Making kids laugh ... fantastic. I tell them about growing up in rural Spain: a string of bike crashes, an incident with an air rifle and a moving target, and nearly frying myself on an overhead power line. Building codes? Hah.

Now, this sort of thing is okay in a live speech because you can make fun of yourself and show them how silly you were. In a book you have to be more careful, so Hal Junior is toned down a few notches. The humour remains though - gotta make kids laugh.

The more I thought about this great new idea, the more I wanted to get started. My long-suffering wife had been telling me to write a kids' book for the best part of a decade, but now it was MY idea I wanted to write it immediately, if not yesterday.

With this shiny new bauble in my peripheral vision I found it impossible to continue with my adult novel. In the end I made myself a promise: I'd set aside a month to work on this new children’s book, and then I'd go back to my 'real' novel.

As it happens, every year I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where writers the world over pledge to write at least 50,000 words during November. NaNoWriMo is great if you have trouble bashing out a decent word count, which I do because I often get distracted by ... ooh! Shiny!

For one month a year your family understand you're *busy* and writing is your first priority. Many authors will know what I'm talking about. NaNoWriMo is a huge event, with organised meetings in cafes (laptop essential, coffee optional), icons and blog widgets showing your progress, a thriving forum and most importantly ... those little badges at the end of it.

I decided NaNoWriMo 2010 was going to be Hal Junior or bust. One small problem: I was planning a 25,000 word novel while the rules called for 50,000. Simple ... I'd write TWO Hal Junior novels in November, back to back!

There's nothing like an insane challenge to fire me up. I started typing on the 1st, and by the 12th day the first draft of book one was complete. From the 13th to the 22nd I wrote book two, and then from the 23rd to the end of the month I wrote half the third book for good measure.

I've edited and polished, polished and edited, and the first Hal Junior book will be released in October. That's good timing, because it means I can start on books four, five and six the moment we tick over to November ...

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal will be released by Bowman Press in October 2011. For more on Simon's fabulous books and to learn how you can order your copy, see www.spacejock.com.au/HalJunior.html