Today is my stop on The Cut Throat Cafe blog tour and I have the utter joy of hosting the author Nicki Thornton with a guest post. She’s here with a guest post all about what she’s learned from children in her time writing for them!
“Seth Seppi is excited to arrive in Gramichee, one of the few towns were a cluster of magical folk lie. But he’s worried that Angelique has only brought him here because she’s desperate to find someone to help him with his magic, which has been nothing but a disaster so far. When the promise of an apprenticeship is offered, Seth is keen for the chance to study properly to become a sorcerer. But he is also worried that if someone discovers that his magic is dangerous, he’ll be banned from ever joining the world of the sorcerers. The offer of an apprenticeship means he has a chance to find someone might help him with his magic. Then he learns he has arrived in Gramichee at the worst possible time – an apprentice has been attacked and it’s not the first incident. This is the start of his most worrying case so far. Why are apprentices being targeted? Is it an accident? A prank gone wrong? Is one of the apprentices responsible, or is something much darker at the bottom of it all?”
Things I have learned from children through writing for them
If people ask me, I do say that I write books for children. But this, of course, is a lie.
This gives a shiny gloss to a job that is basically months of agonies in front of a computer wrestling as much with character motivations and self-doubt that you can even get to the end.
You have to shift yourself out of the nitty-gritty of closing plot holes from time to time – and remind yourself to actually think of the readers.
One of the delights of writing for children is that once in a while you do get to lift your head out of the machinations of plots, reversals and making your baddie quite bad enough.
You get to head out to schools and to meet young readers. And one of the truly astonishing things that happens when you have been lucky enough to be the author of three shiny books is that you start to meet your readers.
The number of people in the audience who know your books and have quite possibly read them grows. In fact, this becomes the main reason you have been invited in the first place. Some very kind kid has pestered the teacher or librarian to invite you into the school to talk.
That’s when you really need to have your wits about you. This is when you are supremely glad you put in all those hours focused only on the story, tying up this, giving a stronger motivation for that. Because once you have been lucky enough to find a reader who loves your writing, absorbs it – the characters, the stories, the world, they don’t just connect with it, they absolutely live it.
The drawings they make, the writing they send, reminds you just how much a book can ignite the imagination at a time when minds are reaching out and being formed.
Quite a responsibility.
Children live in a learning environment. They know that when you are writing a story, you are making it up. But their questions really get inside the stories and it’s great discovering what they respond to.
The ability to get such great feedback directly from readers has encouraged me to go just a little darker, taught me that you can be complex.
And thinking of the readers does make me remind myself to also have enormous fun with my writing.
They totally get that you are doing it within certain rules, so one of the most fun things they respond to is the words I have made up. It is ok to actually make up not just new worlds, but new words!
I love making up words and I love how my readers react, particularly when I tell them if you make up words, you can spell them and pronounce them how you want to! (To be honest I also get fairly frequent questions from translators about this too!)
In writing books for children I am not just giving them the freedom to ask questions and understand, but to make the world their own. And, I hope, the licence to break a few rules.
I absolutely loved this! I think it’s so important and as a teacher, my kids teach me things ALL THE TIME.
What have you learned from kids?
What’s your favourite thing Nicki has learned?
What’s the funniest experience you’ve had with kids?
A massive thank you to Nicki and to the publishers, Chicken House, for inviting me to be on this blog tour! What an absolute delight!
Check out the rest of the blog tour below! It promises to be full of fun!