Tag Archives: children’s

Rashmi Sirdeshpande’s Tips for Picture Books

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Rashmi Sirdeshpande is a picture book author, writing both fiction and non-fiction texts, and is our partnering author for picture books for the #DACBaccess month. Here are her thoughts on why the open month is important, and her very best tips for picture book writers and illustrators.

 

A note about the open submissions month 

 

The agency is ALWAYS open to writers and illustrators of ALL backgrounds and they actively seek them out too (I can vouch for that bit!). But this is a shout-from-the-rooftops kind of initiative to make the whole process feel more accessible to underrepresented groups. Sort of a “yes, I mean YOU”. Before I was selected for Penguin Random House’s WriteNow programme, I didn’t think children’s publishing was really open to writers like me. WriteNow was my “yes, I mean YOU” moment. I hope this can be yours! 

 

Rashmi’s top tips for new picture book writers and illustrators 

 

1. READ! Oh my goodness, if you do nothing else, READ, READ, and READ! Pull apart picture books you love to really understand what works. Get a feel for the language, the page turns, how the words and pictures work together. If you’re a writer, you need to leave space for the illustrator to work their magic. Leave out anything that can be expressed visually. By reading lots, you’ll get a sense for how this is done. There are also some brilliant blogs out there with lots of guidance like SCBWI’s Words and Pictures, Notes from the Slushpile, and the Picture Book Den!  

 

2. WRITE/ILLUSTRATE LOTS and if you do, call yourself a WRITER or ILLUSTRATOR (drop the “aspiring”!). It sounds like a tiny thing but it’ll make a big difference to how you see yourself and your work. We all have other commitments so don’t beat yourself up if you have a slow patch but you know what works for you – get that practice in. Writing/illustrating is a learned craft. Don’t let anyone scare you with the idea that you either got it or you ain’t. If you ain’t got it, you can go and get it. The more you do, the better you get. 

 

3. DON’T WORRY ABOUT TRENDS or if someone is doing something similar. If you’re a writer, write the story YOU want to write. If you’re an illustrator, work in the style or styles that speak to you. Publishing takes AGES and by the time your book is on submission or even on the shelves, everything will have changed. Be yourself. Tangent: if you’re looking for an agent, find someone who really gets you, someone who can back your entire career. I’m lucky to have found that here at The Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency. 

 

4. SEEK OUT HELP. Surround yourself with writers and illustrators you look up to and with people who love and believe in you and your writing. When Imposter’s Syndrome strikes (and it will!), go back to those people. Find mentors who can bring out the best in you. Find other writers on similar journeys – look for them in groups like the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Join a critique group (online versions work too!) – it’s a great way of getting fresh eyes on your work but ALSO, reviewing and commenting on someone else’s work will fine-tune your own skills. Win, win. Just make sure you work with people on the same page as you. Fit is everything. 

 

5. BE PATIENT. Publishing takes time. Pictures books can take two years to publish even after they’re acquired by a publisher. A lot depends on book fairs and illustrator availability but also what else is on the publisher’s list. So many factors out of your control. The one thing you can control is this: keep working on your craft. It’s not a race and it’s not a competition. Well, OK, it’s business but there really is enough pie for everyone. Keep writing and illustrating, and keep believing in yourself. Somewhere, somehow, when the time is right and the stars are aligned, it WILL happen for you. And when it does, be prepared to keep LOTS of secrets. Publishing is full of them! 

 

Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Good luck! 

Why We’re Launching the #DACBaccess

Last week, we announced the launch of our open submissions month for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers and illustrators. Running from the 1st – 30th November, our open month is designed to give aspiring writers the chance to get feedback from both agents and our brilliant partnering authors, and we’re excited to get reading.

But why are we running this month? After all, we are always open to submissions from authors from under-represented backgrounds, including BAME authors. Why do we need a separate competition?

Our springboard for this was the CLPE’s Reflecting Realities report, which showed that only 1% of books published in 2017 featured a non-white protagonist. 1%! That’s in contrast to 32% of primary school pupils who come from minority ethnic backgrounds. Clearly, if we want children to read books that reflect their own experiences, we have to do better.

When this study was published, we reached out to see what the barriers were for BAME authors to submit to us. We know that you are out there, writing, illustrating and being incredibly creative, but that wasn’t reflected in our submissions inboxes. And one of the key things that we found is that authors and illustrators from minority ethnic backgrounds didn’t necessarily feel that they were welcome to submit – that this wasn’t a space for them.

We want to change that, and so we hope our open submissions month will give authors the encouragement they need to send their work to us. We’re also partnering up with authors at our agency who have been through this, and understand the challenges involved. We really hope that we’ll find some incredibly exciting new authors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and that we’ll be able to sell books that really reflect our classrooms.

In the coming weeks we’ll be introducing our partner authors and giving you some tips on how to submit to us, so follow #DACBaccess to keep up!

Arise, Knights of the Borrowed Dark!

On Tuesday night we had the pleasure of attending a very special launch for the highly anticipated Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden.

For those of you who have not yet heard about KOTBD, you are in for a real treat. It tells the story of orphan Denizen Hardwick who discovers that he is part of a secret army that protects the world from an evil shadow realm.

It’s a fantastical, thrilling adventure of light versus the darkness. It’s a timeless yet contemporary classic and the world that Dave Rudden has created firmly imprints on all who read it. Trust me, you will never think of the ticking of a clock the same way again…

The wonderful people at Puffin Books and FMcM put on an unbelievable show recreating Seraphim Row, the safe house of the Order of the Borrowed Dark, in an eerie, candlelit Georgian house. Guests were free to explore the rooms and meet the characters, training with weapons expert Corinne D’Aubigny and even coming face-to-face with a Tenebrous, a monster from the shadows.

Puffin will publish in the UK on 7th April so you have plenty of time to get your pre-orders in, and if you’re lucky enough to live in Ireland, you can go out and get your copy today!

The response so far has been incredible and can all be attributed to the phenomenally talented author. Eoin Colfer, Irish Children’s Laureate, says ‘Dave Rudden is more than a rising star – he is a shooting star.’

Be sure to check out the other outstanding early reviews here and follow Dave and all the KOTBD news @d_ruddenwrites

Here’s Dave with an extremely proud agent, Clare, and some pictures of a real night to remember.

#KOTBD

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final edit

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Dave, the team at Puffin Books and Malleus Vivian of the Order of the Borrowed Dark!

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Stationary headed with the Order of the Borrowed Dark emblem

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Mary getting her book signed by man of the night, Dave Rudden

Delving into the DA Authors’ Inspiration – Part Two

Now it’s Friday, and we are officially starting to count down to Christmas (!!), we wanted to continue what we started last week with all of our wonderful Adult authors… it’s time to share how some of our Children’s authors got to writing…

Cathy Cassidy, Puffin’s bestselling author for girls and of the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series:

I was scraping a living as a teen mag agony aunt and freelance mag journalist but had never managed my dream of writing a book-length story – until a new friend’s disbelief that I wanted to be a writer goaded me into finally getting past chapter three. Her tough-love comments pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to achieve that dream.

Fortune Cookie

Polly Ho-Yen, author of the award-nominated BOY IN THE TOWER (Random House Children’s Books):

It started slowly for me. I have always loved books and working with books but I simply didn’t think that I was good enough to write one, let alone for it to be published. I started writing just for my own pleasure, with no ambition of what might happen, and quickly found that I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t stop. When ‘Boy in the Tower’ was published, I still had the nagging feeling that I wasn’t good enough to make it as an author.

However, when I was looking for a new job, I realised writing was the thing that I liked doing most in    the world. I was also encouraged by my lovely readers, who told me to keep going and who were endlessly enthusiastic. I suddenly knew that if I didn’t give writing a chance then it never would be my career and, though it was perhaps scarier than other paths, I was more afraid of not giving it a go. Now, I can’t imagine having a day without writing in it and hope that I won’t have to.

FINAL COVER BOY IN THE TOWER

Dave Rudden, author of the upcoming KNIGHTS OF THE BORROWED DARK (Puffin):

 I first started writing when I was seventeen. Fanfiction, actually – grimdark far future military sci-fi with lots of glorious last stands and lantern-jawed heroics. I used to lurk on a website called Imperial Literature. Reading stories graduated to the occasional comment, and the community was so welcoming that eventually I put up my very first piece of fiction. Just five hundred words, just an experiment to see if I could. Looking back, I don’t mind admitting that it was dreadful, but every comment I got was kind and constructive until finally someone commented ‘love this. When’s the next one?’

 The question had never occurred to me before. When’s the next one?

 Helen Grant, author of THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN and THE FORBIDDEN SPACES trilogy (Random House Children’s Books):

 I’ve always wanted to write. When I was 10, our school teacher asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up, and I said very firmly that I wanted to write. He looked at me and said , “And you will.”

For a long time other things got in the way: university, first job, travelling, then two babies. Then in 2001 we moved to Germany. The children started at kindergarten and all of a sudden I had my mornings free. On the very first day they were both out of the house, I booted up my PC and started writing, and I’ve carried on ever since. My first book was published in 2009. 

URBAN LEGENDS FRONT COVER

 Caroline Crowe, author of PIRATES IN PYJAMAS (Little Tiger Press):

I’ve written silly rhymes for friends since I was at school and I knew by the time I left University that I wanted to be a writer, but the two things didn’t come together to make a picture book text until a few years ago. After I graduated I was very lucky to get work experience at a national newspaper and ended up never leaving. It wasn’t until 10 years later when I decided to go freelance that I started writing texts for children. I love picture books and we have a huge collection at home. I don’t think there was one defining moment, but as soon as I had the time, writing picture books was exactly what I wanted to do.

Pirates in Pyjamaas cover

Olivia Levez, author of the upcoming THE ISLAND (Oneworld):

 Definitely the morning that I walked into my head’s office and asked for a sabbatical from teaching. I had a wonderful creative year in which I joined SCBWI and went on my first conference,  went to art college to do my foundation, and most importantly, wrote my first book, which I’d been trying to do for years and years.  Although that first book was pretty dreadful, it did get a request for a complete from an agent, and that gave me the confidence to carry on writing.

The Island B.indd

Kim Slater, author of the Carnegie nominated SMART (Macmillan Children’s Books):

For the last three years since securing my first book deal, I’ve stuck doggedly to the same routine; wake up and write 6-8 am each morning, then off to my day job as a full-time self-employed school bursar.  On top of this, I’ve also written in the evenings, at weekends, on holidays (including my recent honeymoon!) and at Christmas-time.

To me, writing isn’t a chore, it isn’t a job – it’s something I love to do and I ache when I can’t do it. The greatest luxury for a writer is having the time to think, to simmer ideas and well, to write.  So, this summer, when the opportunity came to write full-time, my resounding response was, YES PLEASE!

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11 Ways Not To Start Your Novel – No. 11

At the Wrong Time

At the Darley Anderson Agency we ask that any writers who wish to submit their work to us should provide the first three chapters of their novel as a sample of their writing. This is, as I understand it, standard practice in the industry.

However, at least once a week I hear from someone who takes issue with this.

Here are a few examples of the submission queries that we who work in literary agencies hear all the time:

  • “The first three chapters don’t really give an impression of what the whole novel is about. Could I send more?”
  • “My plot doesn’t really get going until about Chapter 14. I’ll send you Chapter 14 instead.”
  • “Those first chapters aren’t my best. I’m including Chapters Eight, 26 and 31 in their place. Those are the chapters I’m really proud of.”

Putting aside the fact that I really wouldn’t recommend quibbling about the harmless submission guidelines of your chosen literary agency unless there’s absolutely zero ways around it, this is worrying in an even bigger way. Saying something like this is akin to holding up a large neon sign above your head which reads:

“I’M NOT THINKING ABOUT MY READER!”

Because, really, as a reader if you get to the end of Chapter Three and the plot still hasn’t got going yet are you likely to want to keep reading? If the first chapters of a new book aren’t that strong isn’t it just a huge struggle to carry on with it? And, let’s be honest, no one ever picked up a book and started reading from Chapter 14 onwards.

Readers start reading from page one. Publishers are the same. Literary Agents are the same. That’s how stories work. You start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

My response to those three queries would be thus:

  • Well, they should
  • Well, it should
  • Well, you should be fiercely proud of your opening chapters too

If you don’t feel confident that your opening chapters are your best work then rewrite them. If your first chapters aren’t really capturing the essence of your overall novel then change them so that they do. If your plot doesn’t really get going until Chapter 14 cut out chapters 1 through 13. Open with whatever active, plot-developing scene it is that makes Chapter 14 so great.

You could always move that genius 31st chapter to the beginning of the manuscript as a flash-forward glimpse of what is to come, if you like. You can create a completely new character or obliterate an established one. You can move the events forwards in time or change the timeline to suit your whim.

You are the god of that page, time bows to your will. Take advantage of it. Own it. Be god.

The writers who make these queries have definitely done one excellent thing – they have recognised a problem in their manuscript. The real issue is that they’re complacent about it. Like it’s someone else’s problem. Specifically, it’s their reader’s problem.

When editing, I occasionally find myself suggesting some pretty drastic changes to some authors’ plots and their sequence of events. And, when I do this, I find that a lot of writers have a very understandable inclination to stick to the original plan. The phrase, “but that’s not how it happens,” is often uttered.

This is because good writers believe in what they’re writing. They can see each scene unfold like memories. Their characters are real people to them. And with real people you can’t just go back into their memories and say, “actually, you didn’t move house when you were 12, you moved when you were 15. And you only have one aunt, not two. And your hair’s blue now.” But with made-up characters you can, and sometimes you must.

This is why I think good writers often really struggle when making big plot changes. It’s all real to them. They’ve forgotten that they’re god.

In this respect, the space between being a good writer and a great writer is being able to step back and remember your godlike powers, remember that you are in charge. You can start your story whenever you want.

Choose the most opportune moment.

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

By Vicki Le Feuvre

An Interview with Beth Reekles

Beth Reekles is the teen sensation behind THE KISSING BOOTH, officially one of the world’s most influential teenagers and the newest author to join the Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency, agented by Clare Wallace.

Beth Reekles - teen sensation

Beth Reekles – teen sensation

At fifteen, Beth began uploading her debut novel THE KISSING BOOTH to story-sharing platform Wattpad, where it quickly accumulated over 19 million reads. She was picked up by Random House UK at the age of seventeen while she was still doing her A Levels.

Now studying Physics at Exeter University, Beth has already had THE KISSING BOOTH, ROLLING DICE, and OUT OF TUNE all published with Random House along with being shortlisted for multiple awards, receiving the Scout Birthday Honours Writing Badge and having been named one of Time magazine’s 16 Most Influential Teenagers in 2013 she has just been listed at No.6 on The Times’ Top 20 Under 25 list.

The Times August 2014 close up USE

Here’s a picture of the article irl, just in case you’re not subscribed…

In celebration of Beth joining the agency, Emma Winter was able to grab a moment with Beth to discuss the realities of being a published author, where she gets her inspiration and what she’s reading this summer!

Emma Winter: When did you tell your parents that you were contributing to WattPad? Were they surprised by your success?

Beth Reekles: I told them about three months into posting my first story on Wattpad that I was posting a book I was writing online and it had maybe twenty thousand reads at that point. They didn’t really know what to say – and had nothing to compare the number of reads to, so didn’t think much of it.

When The Kissing Booth started getting 400,000, then 900,000, then two million, then five million, reads, they started to take more notice. They were certainly surprised when I revealed I’d been writing avidly since they gave me a laptop when I was twelve, and I hadn’t told them all that time!

EW: Has being a published author been anything like you expected?

BR: It’s been a complete whirlwind, and it’s all happened very quickly! I don’t really know what I was expecting from being a published author, but it’s certainly been very exciting – meeting other authors, being on TV to talk about my books… and I still go looking for my book every time I go into a Waterstones!

EW: Where did you, or where do you, get your inspiration from?

BR: I’ve always written the kind of books I like to read. When I was younger, I wrote more fantasy, but the last few years I’ve preferred teen romance. I look to teen movies, YA books, and movie and TV soundtracks when I need inspiration. And, I’ve always admired JK Rowling, and find her a huge source of inspiration.

JK Rowling - inspiring generations

JK Rowling – inspiring generations

EW: Do you ever find inspiration hard to come by? If so, what do you do when this happens?

BR: Sometimes if I get stuck on a book, I try watching movies or reading books in the same genre as I’m writing, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll put on some soundtracks to something like Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, or Pirates of the Caribbean – usually they’re exciting and motivational enough in themselves to get me writing, but they also make for great background music.

EW: What were your favourite bits to write in your novels?

BR: I love writing dramatic scenes – when everything seems to be going wrong for the protagonist, it’s always the most fun to write.

EW: What was the hardest bit?

BR: The hardest bit is almost always the start. I’ll come up with the ideas for the novel, and have an idea of where I want it to go, but I always find it hard to figure out the best way to start the book. I must’ve had a dozen different first chapters for The Kissing Booth before I found one I could work with.

EW: Where’s your writing space and what’s your writing process like?

BR: I usually write in my bedroom. When I was in school, I couldn’t write in the daytime, so I used to write later on in the evening and at night. And as for my writing process, I’ve never been able to plot stories – I always end up with a two totally different stories! I tend to come up with a blurb for the story and my characters first, and work from there.

EW: What would your top three YA romance films be?

BR: John Tucker Must Die, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Easy A.

Author-approved films by Beth Reekles

Author-approved films by Beth Reekles

EW: How did you feel when you were listed on Time’s ‘Most Influential Teen’ list of 2013?

BR: It was incredible! I had no idea about it beforehand, so when I saw it online I ran around my flat at uni waking people up to tell them. It was brilliant to be on the same list as people like Malia Obama, Malala, and Lorde.

EW: What are you reading this summer?

BR: I’ve read 23 books this summer already, and I’ve still got a huge pile left I’d like to get through! At the top of my to-be-read pile is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, Solitaire by Alice Oseman, and A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin.

Wow, that's a lot of books. Better write faster, George.

Wow, that’s a lot of books. Better write faster, George.

EW: Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you

BR: I do a lot of knitting in my spare time. My grandmother taught me when I was little and I took it up again about two years ago. It’s really relaxing, and I’m working on a massive cable-stitch blanket.

EW: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

BR: Write, write, write! They say practice makes perfect, and if you want to write, just write. Even if you never show it to anyone, it’ll be such a great feeling when you finish your first book. I’d also recommend posting some of your work up to a site like Wattpad. It’s really encouraging to see people reading and enjoying your work, and the communities are really supportive.

EW: And one last bonus question – Can you pitch each of your novels in a tweet?

BR: What would you do if you fell for your best friend’s brother? That’s what happens to Elle – but can her friendship with bestie Lee survive? (The Kissing Booth)

The Kissing Booth

Starting a new school is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. But does Madison stay with the cool kids at school or stand by the nerd? (Rolling Dice)

Rolling Dice

Ashley’s life is perfect on paper, but new boy-next-door Todd is going to make her realise that none of her life is as it seems… (Out of Tune)

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THE KISSING BOOTH, ROLLING DICE and OUT OF TUNE are available to buy now. Get your copies today and follow Beth on twitter for all the latest updates.

An Interview with Dave Rudden

Dave Rudden, agented by our own Clare Wallace, is the debut author of The Borrowed Dark trilogy which has recently been snapped up by Puffin Editorial Director Ben Horslen in a significant pre-emptive deal. The translation rights have already been sold in France and Germany in a six-figure pre-empt and the film rights are currently being hotly fought over.

Vicki Le Feuvre was able to grab a moment with Dave between all his recent radio interviews to discuss everything that has changed for him since he brought his brilliant protagonist, Denizen Hardwick, into the wider world.

Dave Rudden, debut author of The Borrowed Dark

Dave Rudden, debut author of The Borrowed Dark

Vicki Le Feuvre: So, to get this ball rolling I wanted to first of all ask: on a scale of one to ten how psyched are you? Because I think we’re levelling off at about a constant 52 at this point.

Dave Rudden: My feet honestly haven’t touched ground since I got that first phone call (on the morning of my twenty-sixth birthday, if you can believe it).

VLF: Where were you when you got the call from Clare Wallace telling you about the six-figure deal she’d made with Puffin Editorial Director Ben Horslen for World English rights of your trilogy?

DR: I was in a Pound World on George’s Street in Dublin, counting the change in my pocket and dubiously eyeing 50p packets of soup. Needless to say, it was a very welcome phone call.

VLF: What has changed in your life since that day or are we still in the calm before the storm, do you think?

DR: I’ve received a lot of lovely congratulations messages but overall I think it’s still the calm before the storm, which I’m actually really pleased about. I’m currently working on the sequel to The Borrowed Dark and I’m hoping the Spring 2016 release date means I’ll have all three books finished and ready to go by the time the first one comes out. That means I can relax and enjoy it! (or start the next book to be honest, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t writing).

VLF: The German and the French translation rights for The Borrowed Dark have already been sold. Do you speak either of these languages or do you have any plans to get Rosetta Stone-ing so you can read your translations?

DR: I am hilariously awful at languages, much to the disappointment of every Irish teacher I’ve ever had. There’s a French character in the book and the Knights of Borrowed Darkness [important figures in the trilogy] use a lot of Latin so there are phrases in other languages littered throughout the book. Luckily I have a few French and one Medievalist scholar friend (doesn’t everyone?) and they do some translating for me, which I promptly mangle in the service of good prose.

VLF: Let’s talk about The Borrowed Dark – because everyone else is now. Could you summarise the heart of your story in tweet form?

DR: Denizen Hardwick believes heroism should be optional but he’s just been thrust into an ancient war between iron-handed Knights and horrors from the dark end of creation and it’s proving rather hard to find anyone to agree with him.

VLF: We’ve all fallen for your brilliant protagonist, Denizen Hardwick. So we wanted to know how he came to be. Did he spring to life fully formed, perhaps frowning over a pile of books? Or was there more of a process to his creation?

DR: Denizen came from a lot of places. I wanted to write a character who wasn’t a natural hero, a teenager who questioned things. Denizen Hardwick has read far too many books at this stage of his life. It has always bothered him that when people find out there’s a magical world beside their own they immediately sign up without inquiring about dark lords, giant lizards, ancient curses or inconvenient prophecies.

He has absolutely no illusions about how long he would last in a world like that, which is of course why I decided to pitch him into one. The fun part is watching him learn that it’s that scepticism that actually makes him perfect for the role of hero. The really fun part is watching him fight that realisation for as long as possible.

I owe his name to the fantastically talented Dee Sullivan, writer of the Prim series of YA novels. We meet for writing sessions every few weeks and after a long and strange conversation she basically dropped the name ‘Denizen Hardwick’ in my lap.

VLF: We’re almost at the end of our 11 Ways Not To Start Your Novel series on here. If I can gush for a moment, your first line of The Borrowed Dark was what immediately sold me, personally, on your writing. One sentence in and I was already convinced. Do you have any tips on how to write a gripping first line?

DR: ‘Looking back, it had been a mistake to fill the orphanage with books.’

Your first line is your introduction. It’s your handshake. Your first shared smile. Put yourself in the mind of the reader and decide what reaction you want from them in that first moment.

They don’t know how deep your prose is or how exciting you’ve made the end of Chapter 3 – they’re standing in Waterstones and they’ve opened your book out of idle curiosity. You need to hook them from the first line.

I wanted to sum up the tone of the novel as much as possible in my opening, to let them know that this is a novel with a dark smile, a jaunty wave and absolutely no regard for the safety of children.

VLF: If you had to pick, what would you say is your favourite first line of all time?

DR: It’s very difficult to choose but there’s something so simple, eerie and wonderful about the first line of 1984.

'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.'

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

In just a few short words we’re made uneasy – the day is bright, but cold, the clocks are striking an unfamiliar bell – and we know that this world is like our own but wrong in all the little, important ways.

VLF: We always like to ask authors a little bit about their writing process when they come on here. Where do you write? And do you have any particular rituals or requirements?

DR: During the week, I have a pretty strict regime of a thousand words a day. I’m not one of those writers that can keep a whole novel’s possibilities in his head – I need to write it out, try different things, block the scenes and then go back later and fix them up.

I’ll write anywhere, but I get the most work done when I manage to drag myself to a café that does not have Internet access. The Internet is a wild and wonderful place, and unfortunately I am as distractible as a puppy.

VLF: When you’re not writing what are your favourite things to do? (Aside from sleeping and eating to facilitate more writing, of course.)

DR: I perform regularly as a poet and storyteller on Dublin’s art scene, as well as working on the committees of iBbY (The International Board of Books for Young People) and IrishPEN. I also organise fundraisers for literary and theatre concerns, and act as part of the Risky Proximity Players, a theatre company that adapts the work of horror writer Graham Tugwell. Basically anything that allows me to swan about being loud and theatrical.

VLF: One of the things we love most about Denizen’s character is his appetite for books. When you were his age what was your favourite book?

Terry Pratchett. Anything by Terry Pratchett.

Pictured: Anything by Terry Pratchett

Pictured: Anything by Terry Pratchett

VLF: This question comes from our Rights Executive, Mary Darby, who wants to know if you were ever afraid of the dark as a child and that’s why you created a whole order of knights to protect us from it?

DR: Any time I was outside at night I was firmly convinced that the dark was full of monsters but that as long as I didn’t run or didn’t turn around I was safe. That might have something to do with the creation of the tenebrous – they’re undefined in the dark and only take shape when they come into the light.

VLF: A lot of aspiring writers visit our blog. What would your top five tips be to new writers just going into the submission process, as someone who has come out the other side a success?

DR:

  1. Farm out your manuscript to people so you get another set of eyes. Join a writers’ group, harass your friends (as I did) and make sure you’ve looked at your novel from every angle before you send it out.
  2. READ THE AGENTS’ REQUIREMENTS. They will be very clear in their preferred format and you want them on your side from the get-go.
  3. Choose the agent you contact carefully. Do your research on each agency and make sure that your crime novel is going to the agent that deals with crime, or YA to their YA representative. Check their client lists and make sure your manuscript is going to someone as passionate about the genre as you are.
  4. Be patient. You’ll get rejections – not because the manuscript is bad, but because it mightn’t be what they’re looking for, or they’re already representing someone who’s doing something similar, or any one of a thousand reasons you’re not privy to. Keep the rejections that offer constructive feedback, forget the rest.
  5. Read this blog. Little bit of shameful self-promotion, but I wrote a blog for the Dublin Writers’ Festival about the process I went through where I go into detail about cover letters and synopses. I hope it helps!

VLF: Before you go, what was it about the Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency that made you think – these guys are the ones for me? (Feel free to be as complimentary as you like, we don’t mind.)

DR: I did a lot of research on agencies before sending The Borrowed Dark out and there are a lot of very complimentary forum articles about Darley Anderson out there, not just from writers who’ve been signed but even from people who didn’t make it all the way through the submission process. The general consensus is that DA are lovely people as well as being terribly efficient and I’m glad to say that’s something I can attest to myself!

VLF: And finally, the question I’m sure you get asked constantly. Who would win in a fight – Denizen or Superman?

DR: I’m cruel to Denizen sometimes, but I’m not that cruel.

Puffin will be publishing The Borrowed Dark, the first instalment in Dave Rudden’s gripping trilogy, in Spring 2016. Until then you can follow him on Twitter: @dreadfulnotion.