On The Write Way today, I am extremely excited to have Diana Hendry on the blog. Diana has a new YA
book out this week, The Seeing which I will be reviewing later today on the blog.
I understand that this is your first children’s book in ten years as you have concentrated on poetry writing.What made you return to children’s literature?
It’s impossible to earn a living from writing poetry. Also I had a story growing - rather like a bulb underground - and eventually I need to tell it. And actually I hadn't truly stopped writing for children. I've written a number of picture books. A couple of them have been turned into musical plays.
Was it easy to make the transformation from poetry to prose again?
Well, I’ve never stopped writing prose as well as poetry. I’ve written a number of adult short stories and I also write book reviews now and again. Plus a rather erratic diary! I think writing poetry is very good for improving your prose. At least I hope it is.
You have been producing award winning books for quite some time, with the experience you have now, do you find that the writing process gets easier with each book?
I wish! Every book seems to require something different. A different voice or perspective. A different pace.
The Seeing is due for publication with Random House Children’s Books very soon, please can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Seeing is set in a small seaside village after the war. It’s about the friendship between two girls, Lizzie and Natalie. Natalie is convinced that the war isn’t really over and that there are Left-Over Nazis all over the place - including the village of Norton. They need to be routed out and she convinces Lizzie to help. Natalie has a small brother, Philip, who possibly has second sight. The girls get deeper and deeper in danger with rather awful consequences.
The story is very much about ‘seeing’ - seeing what’s good, what’s bad. Seeing truly. Training your eyes and mind to see as clearly as you can. At least that’s the sort of message I wanted to put over!
I am hearing such good reviews about this book. How did you come up with such a powerful storyline?
I don’t always know the end of a story while I’m writing it, but I did with The Seeing. So I knew I had to work to a climax to make the ending work. Also I had two very good editors who suggested I told the story in different voices. This really helped to dramatise it.
I am rather intrigued by Natalie and her brother Philip in the book, did you base these characters on anyone in real life?
I once had a very adventurous and daring friend - so there’s something of her in Natalie. And perhaps a part of me wanted to be like Natalie - brave and wild, even if she does go horribly wrong. Philip just appeared. There's a sort of version of my sister and brother-in-law, but fictionalised.
What kind of research did you need to do in order to write this book?
I didn’t do a great deal of research but I read quite a lot about prisoners of war and their plans to escape and I also read a book about life in the Fifties.
Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
Usually I like to get a first draft finished before I start editing. But The Seeing had a great many drafts - more than any other book I’ve written.
Which authors inspired you while growing up?
That’s hard to answer. I read anything and everything, using everyone else’s library cards so I could borrow a haul of books on a Saturday. I read Agatha Christie and Emily Bronte and an American novelist called Carson McCullers and for a time I was hooked on a novelist called Joyce Carey (a man, despite the name) and Charles Morgan.
Do you have any advice for aspiring and unpublished authors?
Read and read and read and read. Try to set up a small workshop group where you can try out pieces you’ve written. If you can afford it, go on an Arvon Creativve Writing course.
The Seeing is published today! July 5th. RRP - £10.99 - presently available on Amazon for £6.59
To find out more about Diana Hendry: