Emily Randall She was a student of a three-month online children’s fiction writing course in 2019. She went on to win an award paradoxically Children and Youth Fiction Competition and 2021 Times / Chicken House Award (which includes a publishing deal with Chicken House) for her children’s book flood child.
Read on to find out about the time Emily spent studying with us and the inspiration behind her first ghost novel for middle grade…
You took the Children’s Writing and Fiction course in 2019. How has your time on the course affected your writing style?
My time in the course Widely It influenced my approach to writing in every way. I had written a million short stories before and even started a novel – which, after re-reading it, were just copies of the movie the college – but he had no idea about the story arcs or structure, or character development, or nothing. The idea of turning more than 40,000 words into a coherent book seemed impossible. CBC gave me a set of tools and the ability to apply a consistent approach to my wandering creativity, which I was missing.
What was the best advice you received from teacher Katherine Johnson during the course?
I loved my sessions with Catherine, and her notes were always perfectly accurate and clear. It has the ability to understand what kind of book you are very quickly. For me, the most useful advice you’ve given always falls under the same umbrella: it’s about the reader. Remember their age, their interests, and how they talk, think and feel. Even if you are in your 30s (cough) – writing something, you need to write for your target audience and Not is yours.
Many of our students form writing support groups. Are you still in contact with any of your course colleagues?
I can’t overstate how amazing my classmates were. The end of the course hit the beginning of the shutdown, and I think the fact that everyone was suddenly online anyway meant we continued our conversations on Slack, then on Zoom and Whatsapp and now in person. I am always amazed at their amazing writing – seriously, there are some great books coming your way from them – and how selfless they are in their criticism and reactions. But regardless, they really became some of my best friends. One of my classmates said that CBC is like NCT for writers which I think is absolutely correct!
Congratulations on winning the 2021 Times / Chicken House Award. How do you feel when you receive this award and a publishing deal with Chicken House?
Thank you so much. I can’t believe it yet. I don’t think it’s really going to happen until I see the book on the shelves. We all have our dream publishers and long before entering the competition, Chicken House was one of my businesses. They advocate new and exciting sounds and there is nothing that makes sense in their books. They fired some of my favorite author jobs. I can’t wait to step in and learn as much as I can.
flood child Autumn follows a 13-year-old who can see the dead, but when her father dies and he doesn’t show her, she is determined to solve the mystery of his death. Can you tell us more about the novel and the inspiration behind it?
A ferry in her father will send autumn to Ember, an exotic island in the Celtic Sea. everyone is just Little A little weird, and they’re clearly hiding something. But what does that have to do with Autumn dad? And can she uncover the secret before his past comes back to haunt her?
The book is inspired by several things. A visit to beautiful Boscastle, with its recent flood and amazing museum of magic, my love for hagstone and the sea and the fact that I was a ghost friend when I was little (or so my mom says). My favorite books have always had a bit of ghosting or the fluctuation of time, and this story Mondial And Toms Midnight Park She was a special inspiration. It was my husband’s idea to give a nod The wicker man!
What advice would you share with writers working on a novel for young readers?
I know everyone says it, but read on. Read as much as you can, especially new and recent books. Learn about the market and absorb all the brilliance of other children’s book. I’ve basically lived in our local library since the lockdown ended. Don’t write something just because you think it will sell. Trends change quickly, and your heart is clearly not into something. Even if it’s risky (and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of rejections for this) stick to your guns and tell your heart’s story. Not only will you have the passion to see it through to the end, but the originality will shine through. Oh, and I couldn’t let this pass without recommending Write Mentor. If you are a children’s writer, this is invaluable in many ways. I wouldn’t be here without her.
What does your writing routine look like?
I have a baby who is three years and ten months old, so any kind of routine is impossible at the moment! I make use of time whenever childcare allows, evenings, weekends, and school holidays (my husband is a teacher), and I quickly learned to put myself back into the world even if I didn’t feel like it. I always need a soundtrack to inspire me – this book was written for Seth Lachman and Show of Hands – a cup of tea and some chocolate.
Finally, what’s the next step in your writing journey?
I’m soon going to start editing this book with Chicken House, and I’m starting to think about the second book. I feel so lucky to think this way, and if you told me I’d be here until spring this year, I’d have a laugh in your face. It’s crazy how quickly things can change.