Today I’m giving a warm Behind the Pen welcome to Lynne North, UK author of children’s fiction.
How many novels have you written and published?
I am lucky enough to have had five books published to date, all now with my current publisher, Crimson Cloak Publishing.
These books are:
Caution: Witch in Progress: a children’s humorous fantasy.
Zac’s Destiny: A children’s sword and sorcery fantasy.
Emily and the Enchanted Wood: A short children’s fantasy.
Be Careful What You Wish For: A completely different children’s humorous fantasy.
The Chalice of Jupiter: A Role-play adventure game book set in an ancient Roman city.
Do you have any particular qualifications that relate to the subject matter covered in your novels?
I have been a prolific reader all my life, and for many years have spent most of my free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, I have completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’. My aim in life has always been to write, and I have had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than I like to admit to having lived. The actual subject matter of my books is fantasy, therefore comes entirely from my inventive mind!
How far has your writing career evolved from when you first began to write to what it is today? Is this in line with your initial expectations?
I first began writing with any seriousness in my late teens and early twenties. At the time, most of the work I had published was in the form of magazine articles. Of course my calling was always to have a book published. All my books have gone through many stages and rewrites to become the books that are out there today. There is much to learn to be a writer. Writing a book is not enough. To become a published writer involves so much more such as book presentation, editing and formatting. The publisher has to like the look of your book enough to actually read it! Crimson Cloak Publishing are my third publishers, and a company I hope to always write for now. I have two more books awaiting publication.
In the early days I didn’t expect very much of my attempts to be published because it is such a hard field to get into. I was delighted when I began to have many articles published, but having my first book published was beyond my wildest dreams. All the hard work and determination finally paid off!
How would you best describe this novel to a new reader?
In this interview I am discussing ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’.
As I mentioned above, this is a children’s humorous fantasy about an unlucky and rather bored leprechaun named Finn. He lives a quiet life with his family and friends in the sleepy village of Duntappin but Finn yearns for something exciting to happen. Never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy, however, he soon gets far more than he bargained for. When he least expects his adventure to begin, Finn finds himself a long way from home in dire circumstances. Home starts to seem very appealing all of a sudden. Has he any hope of getting back? This is no fairy tale… This funny and fast moving story filled by weird and wonderful characters will turn all your expectations on their head, but that’s a good thing, because it makes them all the more amusing.
Do you read your book reviews? Do you appreciate reader feedback and take it on board, even if it is negative? How do you deal with negative feedback after spending so much time writing your book?
Yes, I read every book review with care. I’m lucky enough to mainly get good reviews, but I take any suggestions or negative comments very seriously. A writer must always be ready to learn and to improve. One way is by responding to constructive criticism and deciding what could have been written better. The next book then takes these comments into account.
How much planning do you do? Do you plan/plot the entire story from beginning to end, or let it evolve naturally as the writing progresses? In terms of characters, are they already a firm picture in your mind before you start writing or do they develop a personality of their own as the story progresses?
My planning consists of getting ideas for a new book. This will usually just come to me sparked by something I see, hear, or have an interest in. The inspiration might even be something I mentioned in a previous book that I realise I could expand on. I jot notes and ideas down for a while, then decide on a tentative beginning, middle and end. The rest is left to the Fates! As I write, ideas change and evolve, usually due to the developing characters. The characters in fact take over. I begin to learn what they would or wouldn’t do and how they would react in each situation. Once the characters begin to write the book, I know I am well on my way.
What authors and types of books do you love the most?
I love fantasy books, Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams and more. Anything that claims to be ‘comparable to Tolkien at his best’ catches my eye. I’m also still trying to find a humorous fantasy writer as good as my hero, Mr Pratchett, but I don’t think I will ever find his equal.
I also enjoy reading children’s books by authors such as Joseph Delaney, Angie Sage, F.E Higgens and others in these types of fantasy genre.
Are you more of a print, e-book, or audio book fan?
Print, all the way. There is nothing quite like holding a new book, especially my own! The sight, smell and feel of a new book are wonderful. E-books are fine, but they will never compare to real books in my eyes.
If you could write a letter to your teenage self, what would be your main piece of advice?
I would point out that success will not come easy. As with most things in life, it has to be worked for. To write a good book is not enough. A lot of the work only begins then. I would ask myself if I am in it for the long haul. Am I ready to face possible years of rejection and disappointment to finally reach my goal? If the answer is still yes, then I would advise myself to go for it, never give up, and you WILL get there in the end.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you fill up that creativity well?
Inspiration can come from so many diverse places. Consequently, I always carry a notebook around with me. The ideas for my next book might come from a happening, a sight, overhearing a smattering of conversation, almost anything unexpected. All it takes is that spark to make my mind begin to go off on a new track. I may or may not then do some study on the subject, but in general I find this less necessary to do with fantasy than any other genre. To me, fantasy is personal and imaginative. This is my world and my ideas, so whatever happens is up to me. I often have two books in progress at the same time. In this way, if I get a minor block on one of them, I work on the other for a while. In that transition time, the next stage of the other book comes clearer to me. It might not work for everyone, but I find it a useful exercise. Inspiration is all around us. We just have to train ourselves to see it.