Thursday 17 September 2015

The Book Cycle with Rhian Ivory

Today I am so pleased to welcome author, Rhian Ivory onto the blog, on the day of her book launch for her eagerly awaited novel, The Boy Who Drew The Future. Rhian is here to tell us all about her Book Cycle.
I’ve always had very vivid dreams, often disturbing and sometimes recurring. I don’t sleep walk anymore but frequently did as a child and would wake up perched on the edge of the bath or holding my wardrobe door handle (thanks C.S. Lewis) so it comes as no surprise that as an adult I dream plot lines, characters, scenarios and what ifs and that’s how The Boy who drew the Future started. I dreamt the end scene of the novel which involved a boy who had drawn someone’s very dark future. I remember telling myself in my dream to remember the idea. I didn’t remember it but someone broke my dream later that day and I raced upstairs and wrote out the end scene in detail. However I didn’t know how to move from the end to the start of the story but this came over time. Over quite a long time in fact, about seven years if we’re counting and during this time I carried on dreaming about this boy and his gift. 

And then I started seeing a hand.
Over and over I’d dreamt about a hand in a river held up like a stop sign, a warning of sorts.
Then I saw something in the hand. 
But I didn’t know whose hand it was or why I kept seeing it but I knew I wanted to find out the answers to all my questions and so I bought several notebooks.

I filled these notebooks with dreams, ideas, snippets of conversation I overheard on trains, I watched documentaries about rivers, I read books about art and how to draw hands and I even tried drawing a few hands (sadly these drawings somehow found their way to the recycling bin). I read everything I could about the future and how people might read it/draw it/see it/hear it and uncover it.
One of the notebooks I filled had a print of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt on the front. I was drawn to the picture and knew that it would be in the book, that it would be important to Noah. I knew a little about Klimt but not enough, so I got some books out of the library in addition to researching him on line and found some fascinating pictures of his muse, Emile wearing the now iconic Klimt dresses.

As the story grew I did a lot of walking setting the scene mentally in my head before I could write it. I played out conversations between Beth and Noah as I walked under tree tunnels, sat on benches reading out their dialogue next to a carpet of Bluebells and imagined I could see them walking off in the distance, holding hands.
 Rutland Water
The beautiful River Wye

I remember watching an episode of The West Wing during this furious writing process and listening to Toby telling someone (probably CJ) how he’s always writing, even in his head and I realised that I was doing that too. I wasn’t quite in Toby’s league obviously but we had a lot in common.
And then one day (quite a few years and babies later) I finally I had a first draft, hurrah! But the wrong narrator, doom! I’d written the whole novel from Beth’s perspective when it should have been Noah telling the story. Luckily for me I didn’t know this would be the first of many drafts because if I did I’m guessing I’d have had a Toby from The West Wing reaction. 
So once I’d got Noah’s voice in place as the central narrator and rewritten the whole thing (fun times!) I went back to the river to watch the fish with the novel on my kindle. I listened to it using the text-to-speech function.
 But as I walked I realised there was someone missing from the story. I kept hearing another voice. I went home and wrote a scene from the perspective of a ghost walking along the river with his dog. 
I then moved backwards in time asking myself who this ghost was, what kind of a boy was he, who he might be frightened of. 
And so Blaze was born. This of course meant rewriting the whole novel, but I wasn’t brave enough to do that yet. And I really didn’t want to write another draft. I just wanted someone to buy it and let me sleep in peace so I told myself it might be better if I just forgot about Blaze and the lovely scenes I’d written. I took Stephen King’s advice and killed my darlings. But then my very wise agent suggested I went on a writing retreat and I’m so glad she did. Over the course of the weekend Imogen Cooper (Golden Egg Academy - asked me a lot of questions and prodded me into letting Blaze out of the box. I sat at her kitchen table and wrote my first proper Blaze chapter and it just flowed, as if he’d always been there, sitting in his hut quietly drawing people’s futures, waiting to be let out. 
And the rest as they say is history, except it isn’t because it took a lot more work with the help of my agent before it was ready to be seen by anyone. Kirsty McLachlan has read so many different versions of this book and has remained steadfastly faithful and encouraging and that’s what every writer needs in addition to an editor who actually wants to buy the thing. Step forwards Janet Thomas and Penny Thomas of Firefly Press ( and their genius idea of introducing me to the artist Guy Manning ( who came up with the stunning cover and many more drawings making the book come alive visually, which for a novel about two boys who draw the future is pretty essential.

All original artwork in this post is the work of Guy Manning.
Thanks Rhian for an inspiring post. I love the drawings by Guy too. 
The Boy Who Drew The Future by Rhian Ivory is published by Firefly Press in September 2015
Noah and Blaze live in the same village over 100 years apart. But the two teenage boys are linked by a river and a strange gift: they both compulsively draw images they don’t understand, that later come true. They can draw the future.
1860s – Blaze is alone after his mother’s death, dependent on the kindness of the villagers, who all distrust his gift as witchcraft but still want him to predict the future for them. When they don’t like what he draws, life gets very dangerous for him.
Now – Noah comes to the village for a new start. His parents are desperate for him to be ‘normal’ after all the trouble they've had in the past. He makes a friend, Beth, but as with Blaze the strangeness of his drawings start to turn people against him and things get very threatening. Will he be driven away from this new home – and from Beth?
Will both boys be destroyed by their strange gift, or can a new future be drawn?

To find out more about Rhian Ivory:


  1. This is a really beautiful account of the birth and growth of your novel, Rhian: thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. Loved reading about your journey. I'm with you on the re-write front. Definitely best not to draw the future on that one! Look forward to reading it :0)


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