AUTHOR: Ros Gemmell
BOOK TITLE: Summer of the Eagles
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
1. Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
I started to write poetry in High School, partly because I loved reading poetry and studying it in English classes. I also loved writing non-fiction essays. I didn’t go on to fiction until my children were at school. Winning a short story competition, and the subsequent publication of the story, convinced me I should be a writer! And attending a local writing group gave me the confidence and inspiration to pursue it.
2. Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
Writing is now my sole ‘job’, but I’m afraid I still don’t get down to it for nearly long enough. I tend to spend too much time on blogs (mine and other people’s), forums, Facebook and twitter so I try to get that done first thing in the morning while eating my cereal. Then I write until lunch time and try to do a little more during the afternoon. Still not organized enough!
3. What influences your writing?
Everything! But especially paintings, music, history, places, sometimes the Bible. I also get ideas from snippets of information I read or hear.
4. Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
Summer of the Eagles is my first tween book. My first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit (as Romy), was published last May. Prior to that, I’ve had lots of short stories and articles published in UK magazines, in the USA, and online. Three children’s stories were published in different anthologies a few years ago.
5. Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I think this story chose me! I had already written some short stories for children but this particular idea had been in my mind for a long time. My characters usually come first, but the whole novel was inspired by a Bible verse about eagles, and the way in which these majestic birds feature in so many verses, and they’re my favourite birds. As soon as I had Stevie, my thirteen year old protagonist, I knew there was going to be an allegorical fantasy figure to do with eagles. I partly drew on the memory of my emotions of losing my father when I was twelve for Stevie’s angst and turmoil, but made it even worse.
6. What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I wrote the first seven thousand words of this many years ago, as my entry to a children’s novel competition at our annual Scottish Writers’ conference. Although this was just the first few chapters, it won second prize. Then I sat on it for far too long while I wrote other stories and adult novels. I eventually finished it (a rough first draft) but left it aside again after a Scottish publisher asked to see the whole novel then didn’t reply. After my historical was accepted, I couldn’t get Summer of the Eagles out of my mind and decided to revisit it, and redrafted it completely. I saw MuseItUp took tween novels last year and I hoped this was just right for their list. By this time I was also more into e-books. I was overjoyed to have it accepted and my editors made me get rid of some bad writing habits to make it a better read!
7. What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I think we’d all like to hold our own traditionally printed book in our hands, but the market is so reduced in traditional publishing that we have a longer struggle to get anywhere. Personally, I prefer to go with a small independent publisher rather doing it all by myself. But for those authors with a published back list, self-publishing is a valid option these days. I know at least two UK authors who are publishing their own novels very successfully on kindle now – but both had a previous track record. Another friend is superb at marketing and is very successful at self-publishing.
8. What is your marketing strategy?
This is one of the problems of being with smaller e-publishers, especially when the print books are not in UK shops. However, it’s all about online promotion. I have blogs, and quite a big online presence in other social media which I use to promote my books. I also visit other blogs and have authors profiled on my main blog so it’s not just all about me or my books. And being on other writers’ blogs introduces us hopefully to a different audience. One of the first things I organize are postcards from Vistaprint, with the book cover and where it is available, plus my website and blog address – I keep those with me and hand them out to anyone remotely interested!
9. What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
A question I think about off and on! Since I love the quicker reply we tend to get from e-publishers, I don’t know if I’d have the patience now to submit to agents in the vague chance (and hope) that one would take me on. I could be sending books out myself in that time. However, I do think that an agent probably has more ‘clout’ in getting the book to a wider audience and foreign markets. I expect I’ll still look for one now and then but continue to submit by myself.
10. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Main Blog: http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com
Flights of Imagination Blog (children’s writing): http://rosgemmell.blogspot.com
Romancing History Blog: http://romygemmell.blogspot.com
11. Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
There is a wealth of different subjects and styles in children’s literature, from younger readers to young adult. The only way to see what is being published is to read it. While we have to be careful not to use language and expressions that might date too much, we do have to get the ‘voice’ right as far as possible. It helps if you have access to the age group, through schools or relatives - I have nieces, nephews and friends’ children, as well as having two grown up children of my own. And, although times have changed, we can all probably remember the angst and pleasure of being a child and young teen and draw on our experiences and emotions.
12. Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.
Summer of the Eagles Blurb
Thirteen year old Stephanie (Stevie) loses her parents in a terrible accident, leaving her lame. Her dreams of running for Scotland are over. No longer able to cope with Stevie’s moods, her Gran sends her to an aunt on a Scottish island.
Although Stevie gradually makes new friends and discovers an interest in the bird sanctuary, she soon falls into danger from two bird poachers intent on harming the eagles.
Karig, a strange boy in the hills, helps Stevie to heal. Could he have anything to do with the eagles or the painted rocks and legends of the island?’
Summer of the Eagles is available from MuseItUp Publishing on March 23rd, and subsequently from www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com