Posts Tagged 'A Sweet Word Kamchatka'

Everything has to be called something part II

I’ve written before about the problems with naming my next book. Names are incredibly important. Until the book has a title, sales departments and designers can’t get working on a cover. Until the cover is agreed, there can be no advertising or sales strategies. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book on the strength of its title (although if it had the word ‘Kamchatka’ in it I’d be highly likely to pick it up and jealously flick through…) but I’ve certainly been persuaded by a cover, so I can understand why it’s so critical to get right.

I’ve never been able to shake the feeling though that It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka IS right for my next book. And to my relief, the publisher has finally agreed.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, in the whole kerfuffle of whether to keep or change the title, the publishing date for It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka has been pushed back by a year.

I know that’s nothing in publishing terms. But at the moment, it feels like it’s going to be the longest year I’ve lived through since I got Little House in the Big Woods for my eighth birthday and had to wait till I was nine for Little House on the Prairie (I think my kind aunt relented and gave the book to me earlier – if only publishers were so kind…)

Still, amid the swings and roundabouts of the publishing world, at least I got to keep my title. And here’s a picture of that strange place Kamchatka to celebrate.

Dreaming you’re in a book

Thanks to the children from Marlborough Primary and Tytherington High School in Cheshire for all the interest and participation during my visits this week to talk about Riding Icarus and Dream Land.

You were wonderful! It was great to see so much enthusiasm for books, and how many of you want to be writers. You asked so many fantastic questions it’s hard to single out one or two, but one I really liked was “Have you ever dreamed you were a character in one of your books?”

I use ideas and images from dreams a lot in my writing, but only once have I dreamed I was one of my own book characters. I dreamed I was Masha, the heroine of Riding Icarus and of a new, yet to be published novel known so far as It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka.

In my dream I was about thirteen years old and I was homeless. I was wearing a horrible grubby pale pink coat that wasn’t warm at all and that I’d never have chosen to wear; I think I was being chased, and that I asked some strangers to help me – all that part is a bit vague now but what I really remember from the dream was the feeling of being cold and dirty and having no clean clothes, nowhere to go. And knowing that I was totally alone. No one cared about me; if people saw me then they quickly looked away and pretended I wasn’t there at all. That terrible feeling of being small and unwanted stuck with me long after I woke up.

I’ve put that dreamed experience into It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka, along with some real things that have happened to me and to people I know, particularly homeless children in Ukraine that I met through journalism and charity work. In the book, Masha doesn’t stay living on the streets for too long, but the effect of the world’s indifference stays with her for far longer – as does the amazing kindness of some strangers.

Anyone here ever dreamed you’re a character in a book?


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