Chicken House Little Breakfast

Last Wednesday was the Chicken House Little Breakfast. These events are organised regularly by my wonderful publishers to introduce librarians, booksellers, and writers to each other in a relaxed, toast-and-coffee fuelled setting.

As an author, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet your biggest allies, to form relationships that will bring your book to as wide an audience as possible – and also quite nerve-wracking when it’s your first time reading from your book in public! But of course everyone was lovely, and it was really special to meet the other Chicken House authors who were reading: Sarah Rubin, Sophia Bennett,  Rebecca Stevens and Emma Shevah. And I got to see M.G. Leonard again (we did author event training together). Her debut BEETLE BOY is out in March and it is brilliant, already drawing comparisons to the work of Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. I got my proof copy signed!

IMG_0819

My reading went well (I think!), buoyed by Barry’s introduction and the fact a cat walked in just before. A good omen, always. The attendees were very friendly and I’m in the process of setting up some events at libraries across the country for next year. Plus I saw a poster of my book for the first time.

12247031_10154386846887782_7317439427848207564_n

It’s feeling more and more real. Bring on the Big Breakfast in January!

LET IT GO

Guys, big news. Two years after finishing my first draft and a year after getting a book deal, I just sent the copy-edited The Girl of Ink and Stars (formerly The Cartographer’s Daughter and still titled thus in the US) to my publishing manager. Which means next time I see it, it will be laid out in all its finery, in ACTUAL BOOK LAYOUT.

Ok, so maybe it’s not THE big news i.e. publication, but as the writer it’s possibly the biggest step in this process so far. It’s in essence my final draft. More for my geeky benefit than yours, let me take you through the number of drafts my little story has been through, with word counts and all for extra keenness.

Draft 1: 82,934 words – completed September 2013
Draft 2: 107,379 words – completed December 2013
Draft 3: 68,223 words – completed March 2014 (ms sent to agents and accepted)
Draft 4: 70,530 words – completed May 2014 (ms sent to publishers and accepted)
Draft 5: 55,225 words – completed March 2015
Draft 6: 48,109 words – completed July 2015
Draft 7: 48,590 words – completed September 2015
Draft 8: 47,185 words – completed October 2015
Draft 9: 46,881 words – completed November 2015 (copy-edited version)

As you can see, my ms has never been shorter but it is definitely in the best shape it can be. Being my first ever attempt at writing fiction, let alone a novel, I basically threw everything I had at it – and what I had was an obsession with One Hundred Years of SolitudeThe Northern LightsLighthousekeeping and Skellig. So not the most cohesive of inspirations. I’m lucky to have found an agent, then a publisher, then an editor, then a copy-editor that understood what I was getting at.

In a future blog post, I’ll compare my beginnings because they shifted a lot, as did the number of myths/stories told within the text. I also didn’t start knowing that it would be a book primarily for children, though it quickly became clear that this was what I was subconsciously most interested in. It was a real challenge, as my natural ‘voice’ in poetry – and life – is quite adult in theme and language, but I think restriction can often be where you find the most freedom when writing.

ANYWAY, the point of this blog post is to say: ‘I’ve done it.’ And that it didn’t come out perfect first, second, or even eighth time. But I really think it’s as close to the best it can be now, so it’s time to let it go.

BOAT

boat poster

I probably should have mentioned BOAT on here at some point in the last four months. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know all about it, but for those of you who don’t, BOAT is my debut play. And it got Arts Council England funding. And it has an amazing director, cast and crew. And it’s currently being performed at Theatre N16. And it’s been doing rather well. Here’s the blurb:

BOAT grapples with the experiences of a young girl uprooted from her homeland, a girl who has found that fantasy is her only means of escape.

Form-bending theatre company PIGDOG works with live sound artist/composer Jethro Cooke to bring award-winning poet and novelist Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut play to life.

Press Reviews:

★★★★★
Needs to be seen by as many people as possible
– Culture Fly

★★★★★
Hauntingly beautiful… darkly magical… unique and brave
– The New Current

★★★★☆
BOAT is probably the most demanding and urgent piece of theatre you’ll see this year
– Grumpy Gay Critic

Pick of the Week:
Director Max Barton has a strong sense of the visual
– The Stage

Achingly beautiful… The language is rich and compelling… Will haunt our dreams for months to come
London Pub Theatres

‘A highly creative and imaginative piece.The studio space is used brilliantly
 London Theatre1

Ethereal and surreal… Always cleverly conceived… Distinctly offbeat
– British Theatre Guild

This is a production you must see. PIGDOG have created a little piece of magic  – beautiful, horrible, dark magic
– A Hannah In The Works

Yep, you are looking at the typings of a five-star playwright *preens*.

Of course, when producing a play, the script is only a small part of a much, much bigger beast. Director Max Barton, aside from dramaturg-ing the whole thing, has created something spectacular with designer Shawn Soh. The actors are sublime. The superlatives sound excessive, but they’re not, honestly. I mean, just look at them:

12039481_913022105432547_1999560093869498385_n
BOAT is one of the things I’m most proud of, and I’m going to miss it when it ends Thursday – though I’m sure this is not its final voyage.

…well this is awkward.

I’m really into my four-month blog hiatuses, aren’t I?

Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen. And now I will blog obsessively about what I’ve been up to in the hiatus-that-didn’t-happen. Okay?

Standby.