Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Rhino's Journey

This morning I found some old notes from a few years ago when I was first trying to get a picture book published. If you can read the text on this image you might make out some words from Rhino? What Rhino?

Well the book has come a long way since I wrote these notes (over 9 years ago!). Rhino is published in hardback and paperback and has been shortlisted for an award. The paperback was reprinted within a month of release, which means someone must be buying it!

But I didn't create this book by myself. It's been real team work. Sarah Horne, the illustrator has had an enormous part to play, of course. She has not only created a loveable, funny character, but has also added extra details that bring a whole new dimension to the story.

I also did a huge amount of editing, with the help and encouragement of Emma Layfield at Hodder Childrens Books. I suspect that some authors hate the editing process. True, it can be painful to bin whole strings of words that may have take hours, or even days to write. But for me, this process is hugely satisfying. Like anyone, I find it hard at first to let go of my hard earned verses, and can even get grumpy about it, but I have been through it enough times now to trust that the finished product will be ten times better than what I started with.

I guess it's a bit like clearing out your bedroom. You are convinced you like it just the way it is, but once you've cleared it out, it feels SO much nicer. Once I'm over the initial terror, I love the challenge of taking part of a story and bending it round to fit my Editor's direction. This can be very difficult when writing in rhyme. Changing just one word can throw out the rhythm or rhyme of the whole verse, or several verses.
But it always comes right, after much groaning and huffing and cups of tea. What we end up with is (hopefully) a highly polished text that rhymes, and flows, engages the reader and makes them laugh. Then I breathe a sigh of relief and pat myself on the back. Perhaps buy some new shoes or a cake, and let the publishing team do the rest.

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