going to have a festival next month. If I was smart enough I would be able to work out how to put the little button here on my blog. I still cannot work it out. I think my BIL has done something to secure the computer and I am not confident about undoing it. I may need to ask him.
But the ABBA people have obviously got their writing hands together - please go and check out their programme via my blog roll. It looks interesting. (Of course residing Downunder I will be catnapping most of the time this is on but I can take an interest at the begining and the end of their day - which is the end and beginning of mine.)
But there is a question over on ABBA at present which might be put as, "Do adults know what children want to read?" We might want to say, "Of course they do. How else do books get published?"
There is of course a difference between publishing for adults and publishing for children. Adults, by and large, choose their own reading matter. Children have their reading matter chosen for them. It is a powerful difference. I think we should be more aware of it.
Let me tell you a story. I have been observing what children like to read for years. I have provided the Whirlwind (and, by default, her friends) with books for some years. Among other things the Whirlwind, and her friends, like straightforward adventure stories. Many of these would now be deemed "old-fashioned". Unless they are something like CS Lewis they are no longer on the library shelves. I do not think there is a single Malcolm Saville or Geoffrey Trease or Nina Bawden on the shelves of the local library. Most of Joan Aiken's books have disappeared. The staff have not heard of Anne Barrett or John Verney or Margaret Storey. They were simply not prolific enough. One of my own personal favourites, Elinor Lyon, wrote more and was translated into German and Spanish as well but it took Fidra to reissue some of them before another generation of children could enjoy them. Girls Gone By has reissued some Saville books along with Monica Edwards and others.
The Whirlwind devoured the Elinor Lyon books. It helped of course that one of the characters and I share the same name but, that aside, she thought the books were "really, really good". Why? "Because they are about ordinary children who do ordinary sorts of things and still have adventures." When she had finished reading (and re-reading) them she desperately wanted another one about the same children. I eventually gave in to the begging and pleading and wrote one for her.
She read it and then passed it around her class at school. The feedback was, gratifyingly, highly positive. I know (as the owner of Fidra told me) that my effort "talks down" somewhat to the reader - but, in my defence, I was aiming at the then nine year old Whirlwind and it was about right for her.
I am aware that the book, in ms form, has now gone further afield. Another copy was made so that the Whirlwind would not lose her own copy. There are strict rules on borrowing it so that the next child on the list can read it. It is all very nice but it will not get the book published.
If I had tried to get it published I suspect I would have been unsuccessful. It is clearly what children want to read - even if I have committed the sin of talking down to the reader - but it is not what adults want to publish.
The book I am now trying to interest agents in may also get rejected. One publishing house was kind enough to say it did not fit their list but that I should try elsewhere. I knew it was unlikely but they were asking for submissions and it seemed wise to at least try. An agent told me the story had "merits" but was not for her but then said it might appeal to other agents. I took that as a "keep trying". I am trying to be patient as I make further inquiries. The problem is that it is an adventure story. It is not about vampires or magic or a social issue.
I may well be writing what children want to read but it is entirely possible I am not writing what adults want them to read. There is a difference.