Today we are joined by children’s and SF author, Bren MacDibble, who has kindly dropped by to answer seven questions. Welcome Bren!
1. Tell us a little about your publication credits. If you have none, tell us about the genres you prefer to write, and your current projects.
I started out in 2000 with a nice illustrated educational fiction book for Nelson ITP (now Cengage). This contained two fun stories for nine year olds back to back. “Honestly Ernest” on one side then the child flips the book over for a whole new story called “Ernest’s Mice Mischief”.
Three slightly younger books with full colour illustrations followed for Blake Education, in 2002 “Take Me to Your Leader”, 2003 “A Red Hot Pet” and in 2004 “The Beast of Moogill” for a fun series called Gigglers.
There were also a lot of publications with Hullabaloo magazine at this time which was a US geographical kids magazine which won an award shortly before running out of funding.
I also had a lot of short stories published in SF magazines and ezines for adults and was accepted to participate in the first Clarion South workshop which improved my writing incredibly.
Lately, Shiny, a SFF mag for YA, has taken two stories called “Blurred Horizons” and “Being Bella Wang”. Funding will run out for Shiny eventually too but I am keen to pursue writing YA SF novels so I thought this was a nice entry into the genre. I do have a few completed YA novels I’m shopping about at the moment.
I adore short story and am also keen to provide written content for graphic novels/comics/and other forms. Currently exploring my options there and shopping an illustrated SF free-verse poem story for upper primary.
2. How long have you been writing for children?
Since about 1999. Almost a decade and I’m not famous yet. What’s going on?
3. How much time do you spend each week writing and/or revising? And how much time on other writing-related tasks such as promotion, researching markets and so on?
I spend a lot of time trying to make money at part time jobs with the idea that I’ll have more time to write. I revise a lot since I have these large novels to sell and with a novel there’s always something to improve. I critique for friends every week in the hope that they will critique for me when required. Because I write for children as well as adult SF, I have two groups of writerly friends to keep happy.
I have partial novels and wacky short stories on the go. I work on them in fits and starts and generally I don’t get inspired to finish them until someone calls for something or I find a guideline to match it and then I tend to immerse myself in it for days on end. I’d say I spend around 16-20 hours on writing related endeavours each week. I don’t spend enough time marketing or promoting and I get to less than a third of the networking opportunities offered so I feel pretty bad about that, thank you for asking.
4. How much time do you spend reading children’s books? And what are you
reading right now?
I try to read all the popular children’s books and I buy a lot of bizarre YA books that are similar to the novels I write.
At the moment I’m reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville which is set under London and has child protags as opposed to Neil Gaiman’s book under London (Neverwhere) which has an adult male protag and which, I think, is still appealing to YA. I probably spend an hour a day with my nose in a YA novel.
5. What advice would you give other would-be children’s writers, or share with other professional children’s writers?
Run away! Run away! Actually, I have a how-to-guide for new children’s writers. It’s very Australian-focussed if anyone is interested. But basically, read your favourites, figure out what makes them tick, then refine your style and content to something that you really love.
There’s three reasons to write what you really love. One is that you’ll basically be working for love since most things won’t sell. Two is that editors may put out guidelines etc, etc, but they’re all secretly hoping that the next amazing new thing will cross their desk and they don’t really know what that looks like until they see it. So what you love may turn out to be what other people love too. Three is that there is little point in creating works identical to those already created. Other better established authors are already doing their thing. New fresh stuff, that’s what’s needed.
6. What is your favourite online resource for children’s writers? Why?
Verla Kay’s forum is quite good for keeping tabs on the US market. My favourite, of course, is all the lovely Aussie children’s writers at KidsWritersDownunder. It’s casual and friendly and they’re all very talented.
7. Do you have a website or blog? What else do you do to promote your published works and/or your writing skills?
My website is at www.macdibble.com soon to be updated… and I have a blog at http://macdibble.livejournal.com/ . Other writers can “friend” me there. I’ve joined loads of networking sites and Google seems to be pretty keen on the name MacDibble as a result. I don’t really do enough promoting of myself or my work otherwise. I certainly know a lot of writers but only a few publishers.
Thanks for dropping in Bren. If YOU would like to answer seven questions and be featured here on this blog, drop me a line at sally @ sallymurphy.net (remove the spaces).