My Next Big Thing

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow to join in a ‘blog chain’. I have always been rubbish at this kind of thing, but brain was addled with kitten desires ( I was in a b&b in Llanberris when they asked, on my way to pick up the kittens- resistance was low, and also what I didn’t realise was that I was coming down with the kind of virus you get when you have worked really hard and then stop work.) So, I said yes, that would be lovely, and then promptly forgot all about it is a haze of silver fur and spots and then the dreaded snot goblin that took hold of me like an orc from the dark world!

I have just remembered. Better late than never: it’s not Wednesday, but here is my response to questions asked and tasks given.

The Two Steve’s are a wonderful duo of writers, who have that rare gift of performance also, and a fantastic ability to engage young people with books. They are witty and wise and I am proud to number them amongst my friends. If you want to find out what they were up to here is their ‘chain’. Go pull it! And they in turn were roped in by Chris D’Lacey, an elegant man who knows a great deal about dragons.

I had been asked before about this, but didn’t join in. Couldn’t think of any answers to the questions, so this is ‘off the hoof’ and will see how it goes. I will add pictures, if not conversation……

What is the Title of your next book?

The next one to be published is East of The Sun, West of the Moon, a novel of small proportions with images. It should be comfortable to hold and I hope covetable too. The next that I am working on is The Song of the Golden Hare, but then there is the other one that I am writing, and that is another story.

cover art for East of the sun

What is a one sentence synopsis for your book?

‘ A romantic celebration of the beautiful wild world.’ ( best focus on East of the Sun I suppose)

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was reading a book called North Child which is also a retelling of the story, a traditional, beauty and the beast kind of a story. It really didn’t go the way I wanted it to, so I decided I was going to have to write my own version.

What genre does your book fall under?

It doesn’t. Which is why it had so many rejection letters from publishers. They all said it didn’t fit with their lists and book shops wouldn’t know where to put it. Is it young adult, picture book, myth, folk story, retelling? It doesn’t fit anywhere. When people ask what age it is for I say I don’t mind. Anyone can read it. I wrote it for all those who grew up with my books.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I wouldn’t. It’s a book. That is enough for me. I like books. I like the way they tell stories. I love the time it takes to turn the pages and the magic that happens with the code of letters that makes a story and images dance in the mind’s eye.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is published by Frances Lincoln in the UK and USA and they have sold the rights to Korea, who are printing in a slightly larger format. Hoping for more foreign sales, but I think they are meeting that same problem of not knowing where it sits on a list. So, hope it sells well in UK and USA.  I couldn’t self publish. I love the pr team, foreign rights office, designers, editors, all the staff at Frances Lincoln, the sales dept, who are all part of what makes a book work.

How long did it take to write the book?

Not sure. About six months off and on and a good deal longer to shape with pictures and design. And of course the previous lifetime of learning and growing and listening and loving stories.

What other books would you compare the story to within your genre?

I wouldn’t, but I suppose it is a kind of beauty and the beast kind of thing.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The love for this particular story, And in writing it I learned about how the wind blows and why and what air is made of and some of the things that live in the ocean of air through which we all swim. I learned about weather wizard, something, though not much, about the desert. I walked a good deal when writing it, for I like to write on a hill or a beach. And I learned how sometimes the characters just start to live independent of the author, and do things that weren’t intended. They walk off the path we have set them and make their own destiny. In part I wrote it to attempt to understand the story that is so old, and to understand why I was always disappointed at that moment when Beauty kisses the Beast and he becomes a man.

I don’t think I understand it any better now. But I have found new questions.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It is one of a kind. If enough copies are sold I will be granted permission to play with other stories and I hope make other books that are lovely to hold and to look at. Perhaps the best answer to this question are a few pictures. To understand them you need to read the book.


Bears and the Northern Lights Reading by bear light

Title page with necklace by Hannah Willow East of the Sun, West of the Moon


So, now I have to tag two people: And at the moment I am tagging Catherine Hyde and Robin Hobb. This may change as time goes by and they tell me to get real, it’s Christmas and they don’t have time!

Catherine has illustrated Little Evie in the Darkwoods, so in a way I cheat, as I wrote it, but I would love to see and hear a blog post from her about the process of putting Little Evie together. Her work is sublime and she is a pleasure to work with.

Robin wrote some of my very favorite characters in to flesh and blood and bone and I have to confess some self interest here also as I do the cover art for her wonderful books.

And here is a link to Gillian Philip’s most wonderful Big Thing Blog Post. Good news for me, as i love her Rebel Angels series.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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9 Responses to My Next Big Thing

  1. Faye says:

    Yes, why is it that the beast is always sexier as a beast than as a man?

  2. I am glad you wrote about the book. I will definitely look it out. Wasn’t sure before.
    Funny you mention Chris D’Lacey, I thought of his books before when you posted the painting with all the polar bears facing the girl on the snow pinnacle.
    Sandy in Bracknell

  3. Christina says:

    Yes, I always feel that same disappointment. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last year or so, and writing and painting too. I think it has something to do with falling in love with something wild and wonderful and mysterious and ‘other’, then being rewarded with the ordinary, the everyday, the boring ‘known’. But there’s much more to it and I don’t ever want to know it all…I like the wild mystery.

  4. Chloe says:

    Such beautiful illustrations!

    And I remember going to a talk at my local library by the two Steves back when I was at primary school! At least I’m pretty sure it was them, I certainly recognise the name, it would’ve been a few years ago now 🙂

  5. Mo Crow says:

    oh what a great teaser Jackie!

  6. Hi Jackie
    I’ve preordered this one and can’t wait! I really love the necklace though – did you have it made specially to your design or is there a jeweller you can point us to?
    Merry yule

  7. Christina says:

    Reading this post must have stirred up my muse! Pondering why we like the beast best, the thought wouldn’t let me go this morning until I’d written a song. So it is written, rough, and sung even rougher. Posted over at the attic if you want to pop in!

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