(This post might make more sense if you read the one below, before you read this)
My mother was one of the big influences on me as a writer – she was an expert story teller of tales for children. At the time, we didn’t realise that the reason why she insisted it was time for us to go to sleep wasn’t necessarily anything to do with her wish for a bit of peace and quiet before her own bedtime, or that she was deliberately leaving the main characters in an almost impossible situation, in order to whet our appetites for the next instalment, no, it was more likely that she needed time to work out what was going to happen next .
So it was natural for me to make up stories for my two children. And one story grew and grew so long that they insisted I should write it down. So I did. And after school I had to read them the next chapter, and the next, till it had reached 40,000 words, which happened to be the end of the story, and what felt to me like the right length for a children’s novel .
In spite of being a creative writing tutor, my ignorance about the publishing world knew no bounds. It was a bit late to look in the Writers & Artists Year Book to see what they said about age groups and required lengths according to these clearly demarcated boundaries.
So Mermaid’s Rock (later re-written and re-named The Tide Machines of Mermaid’s Rock ) earned lots of rejections slips too, though not as many as ‘A Head for Heights’, because there didn’t seem to be as many agents and publishers who handled fiction for children. And I’d illustrated it with my own drawings too! As I later discovered, another no-no. Still, my children loved it – as did several of my nieces and nephews.
One of these days, I might take another look at it and see if I might be able to do something with it.