First of all, a massive thanks to everyone who came to the Lincoln Inspired event last Saturday. It was great fun and all the writers and organisers and readers I met were wonderful. Here's us during the panel:
Taken by Bowen, the charming son of Kerry Drewery, who's on my right there (in a Roald Dahl t-shirt, no less). I actually felt terrible that day, with a sinus headache that would not quit - I ended up spending most of Sunday with my face in a bowl of hot steam - but I still have lovely memories of absolutely snorking with laughter at what everyone had to say. A+++ event, very good, would participate again.
This week I'm buried up to my eyebrows in my pre-submission edits on BaBBook. I was supposed to turn the book in to Wonder Editor and Super Agent by the end of April but the tonsillitis and complications thereof absolutely knocked the stuffing out of me, and although I did work through it as much as I could - I knew I was going to be late, but I didn't want to be horribly late - I reluctantly came to the conclusion last week that pretty much all the changes I'd made were utter &@)*, and that I'd missed loads of quite important stuff that I should have caught and improved or fiddled with in various ways. I wouldn't have been happy letting anyone see the 'edited' version.
So on Monday I went back to my original first draft (ALWAYS ALWAYS CREATE A NEW DOCUMENT FOR EACH NEW ROUND OF EDITS MY CHILDREN TRUST ME ON THIS) and started again. I'm already feeling much more positive about this version. Fingers crossed I can send it off soon.
Once that's done I'll actually be out of contract - that is, without any outstanding books contracted to be written and published - for the first time since 2005. Which is a liiiittle scary, not gonna lie. But I have two projects that I'm desperate to work on next and a third that I'm also very excited for (although that one is slightly less developed).
One of these is another fairytale retelling, loosely linked to Shadows on the Moon, which will star a trans* main character - though it's not Akira, sorry! The second is a timeslip story which takes place in both the 1920's and contemporary Britain. The third one is a high fantasy inspired by ancient Babylon which will feature griffins. I'm hoping that Walker will take a liking to one or all of these and offer me a new contract, but I've got considerable work to do on research and synopses, and Wonder Editor will be busy with BaBBook once I've sent it to her, so it'll more than likely be a while before I can talk in more detail about any of them.
In the meantime, here's a snippet from BaBBook. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Everything came back in a starburst of agony. Fire flowed through my flesh, eating away at it in long glowing runnels, like rivers of molten metal burning my shoulder, my hip, and deep, deep into my side. I tried to cry out. All that emerged was a high, thin wheeze, whistling between my teeth. The effort made the hurt surge up over the rest of my body like a red tide, and if I had possessed the breath in that moment to do it, I would have begged the Moon for death.
What happened where am I what’s wrong no no I can’t make it stop please make it go away –
“Ssh now, ssh, you’re safe. You’re safe now. Don’t move.”
I heard the voice only distantly, my own pained, panicked breaths drowning everything out. A large, shadowy shape moved across the orange screen of my closed eyelids – I couldn’t seem to open them – before a strong hand cupped the back of my head and tilted my neck up. Something touched my lip. The rim of a cup, rough and unglazed.
“Hurts,” I whimpered.
“I know,” the voice rumbled softly, soothing. “I know it hurts. Drink this. It will help.”
The cup tipped. I tried to swallow, but the bitter liquid within made me choke and cough. The pain flared and I let out a weak, stuttering sob.
“I’m sorry.” The fingers on my neck rubbed a little at the tight muscles there, like an apology. “Too fast. Let’s try again.”
There was a quiet noise, and then the voice sighed. “I – yes. Yes, child, it’s your father. You’re doing well. Drink up for me?”
Comforted despite my suffering, I did. The liquid was lukewarm, and it tasted awful. I choked again – just a little – but kept trying, and finally the cup was taken away.
“There. Good girl.”
“Ssh. No questions now. Rest. Sleep and get better.”
He laid me carefully back down, my head nestling into some soft, spongy pillow – but the movement jarred my shoulder, which made me flinch, which made my side and hip scream. I bit my lip, but couldn’t hold in another sob.
“Breathe out,” the voice – father’s voice? – rumbled. The slightly rough surface of a damp, cool passed over my forehead and my cheeks, wiping away sweat and tears. “Breathe in. Slowly now. Breathe out. It will pass. Pain always passes. Breathe in. What we know will pass, we can endure.”
I followed the rhythm he set, breathing slowly and quietly until both the clawing fire in my side and the panic had eased enough to be bearable. I sensed more than heard him shift away and stiffened.
“Don’t leave me. Don’t go.”
“I won’t leave you. I’m not going anywhere. Be still now. Copper fish, dance, dance... leaves falling on silver pool...autumn rains, fall, fall...”
My mind slowly clouded over as the stuff he had made me drink took effect. I fell asleep to the gentle, rumbling growl of the sweet lullaby that no one had sung to me since I was eight years old...