I am so pleased to welcome author, Kim Slater onto the blog today. Kim Slater's second book, A Seven Letter Word, was published last month by Macmillan Children's Books.
How does it feel to be publishing your second book, A Seven Letter Word?
Quite unbelievable. It seems no time at all since I was studying for my MA in Creative Writing and pouring all my energies into searching for an agent.
Can you give me a one line pitch for A Seven Letter Word, so my readers can get a feel for the story?
A talented Scrabble player with a very bad stammer overcomes the school bullies and his own doubts to solve the mystery of his missing mother.
You mention on your website, that you wrote for many years before deciding to go to university. What made you come to this decision in the end?
It was a logical decision really. I’d sent various three chapters and a covering letter out for years to secure the representation of an agent but never managed to get off the slush pile.
I was determined to become a published author so I knew I had to change tack and do something different if I wanted a different result.
As a lifelong learner, the idea of studying to hone my craft appealed to me. I started off with a full-time English & Creative Writing degree and then went on to study an MA in Creative Writing.
It was the right decision because before graduating from the MA in November 2012, I was signed with agent Clare Wallace at the Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency and I had a book deal with Macmillan Children’s Books.
Was writing your second novel harder than writing your first?
Yes definitely. It didn’t help that I was trying to match up to a first novel like ‘Smart’, nominated for twenty-three book awards.
It took me a long time to get into the right space psychologically to write. In other words, to stop worrying about what my agent, my publisher and my readers would think and just relax in to it and write.
It took me a very long time but I did get there in the end and it was the same resolve that helped me get published in the first place; I had to believe I could do it and then back myself. This, I managed to do with great support from my family, my editor and my agent.
When starting new novel, what do you do first? Do you research an idea or go straight into the first draft?
I simmer the idea for a while on ‘the back burner’ as I like to call it.
I am always simmering new ideas while I’m writing my current book – one of my favourite times for doing this is just before I go to sleep at night.
This means I am always writing and planning the next story so I don’t really have a clear gap before I start draft one of the next book.
Can you write anywhere or do you have to sit down at a specific time and place to write?
I can write anywhere so long as it’s quiet. I prefer to write in the mornings and I write every day including weekends.
When I’m doing something else, I’m usually thinking about writing (or simmering) at least part of the time.
Do you have a set editing process, or do you edit as you go along?
Each day I re-read what I wrote the day before and edit it. Sometimes, I wish I could just throw caution to the wind and get the first draft down without looking back but it works better for me to edit as I go along and I find it gets me back into the story quicker at the start of each writing session.
Do you read a lot of YA novels? Who are your favourites?
Of course, I read nearly ALL the YA novels!
Generally, I really enjoy reading anything by Sarah Crossan, Kevin Brooks and Katherine Woodfine.
I also recently loved and would recommend The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and at the moment I’m reading and really enjoying The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury.
Which authors do you think will be the rising stars of 2016?
It’s hard to predict a book’s success but I’m looking forward to reading The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood and The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster.
What was the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Before I got published: Never give up. (I mean like, NEVER.)
As a published author: The first draft is just that. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Thank you Kim for some superb answers.
Finlay's mother vanished two years ago. And ever since then his stutter has become almost unbearable. Bullied at school and ignored by his father, the only way to get out the words which are bouncing around in his head is by writing long letters to his ma which he knows she will never read, and by playing Scrabble online. But when Finlay is befriended by an online Scrabble player called Alex, everything changes. Could it be his mother secretly trying to contact him? Or is there something more sinister going on?
To find out more about Kim Slater: