Thursday, 31 March 2011

Guest Spot: Author Sue Ransom - how a birthday present for her daughter became her first published novel!

I don’t see myself as a writer, not really. Of course I write a lot of reports for my day job, and years and years ago, when computers and programs came with instruction manuals, I used to write them for a living, but I’m not a ‘proper’ writer. The fact that I have one novel published, another coming out in June and have just completed a third has rather taken me by surprise.

I read as much as I can find time for, mostly on the train during my daily commute into London, and I love all sorts of fiction. I read the first two Harry Potter books out loud to my son when he was too young to read them himself, and was instantly hooked. I started reading my daughter’s books too, and loved the innocent romance which many of them contained, particularly the Twilight series. What I was less enthusiastic about was the fact that most of her books seemed to be set in America. I thought that was a shame as, being very British, she didn’t really understand some of the references and she had no idea what some of the places would be like.

I started to wonder how much more she might enjoy a book which was set in her world, full of people she knew. I decided to see if I could write a story, one which was just for her.

This was in February, 2009. Her birthday is in September, so that was my goal: to write her a book as a birthday present. I started jotting down notes about the places, the people and the possible plot. It all started to come together and I realised that I could use my commuting time to write, not read. Not long before I had bought myself a touch-screen BlackBerry, so I started writing a few notes on that. Soon I was writing whole chapters on it.

Every day when I got on the train I would read what I had written the day before, and carry on. At the end of every trip I emailed the files to myself. I pieced the bits of files together in the evenings and at weekend, and printed each chapter out as I went. My husband volunteered to be my first reader, which was very brave of him, and he was brutally honest in his criticism. He also came up with some blinding ideas!

The writing was done by about July, and I had a month to edit and revise before getting two copies printed and professionally bound to give to Ellie at the beginning of September. She was desperate to read it, as all I had told her was the name of the story and no other details. She fell on the book on her birthday and (even though it was a school day) devoured it before bedtime. Thankfully she loved it, and was desperate to know what happened next. I had really enjoyed the writing process, and had started to think about what could happen to the characters after that first book finished.

Ellie started to lend out the books to her friends, and very soon I was being asked why I didn’t try and find a publisher. I was a bit wary of that: I had written a story which was only designed to entertain her, and I wasn’t at all sure that anyone else would be interested. But serendipity led me to Kate Wilson, who loved the story so much she commissioned me to write the rest of the trilogy. She also brought forward her plans to set up her own publishing house, Nosy Crow, so that Small Blue Thing could be the launch publication.

I’m just editing the last book in the trilogy now, ready for publication in January 2012. I still write on the train every day - it’s a peaceful, uninterrupted time, but my mind is now full of new stories I can write to keep my kids - and others - entertained. And entertainment is the key. I want them to be racing through the pages, smiling and crying, getting involved. That’s what being a writer means to me.


Details of the book - and a great video trailer - can be found at www.smallbluething.com, and you can ask Sue questions on the SmallBlueThing Facebook page or @SCRansom on Twitter.

SMALL BLUE THING...
What would you do if you were able to speak to a ghost?
And what if you found yourself drawn to him like a magnet…
After meeting Callum in St Paul’s Cathedral, Alex realises that her mysterious new bracelet can somehow help her see ghosts. She can see Callum, she can talk to him and she can fall head- over- heels in love with him…
Callum is everything the boys at school are not – kind, attentive and romantic – but he’s trapped in limbo with no hope of escape. What future does their relationship have?
And who is Catherine? What is she trying to tell Alex about Callum, and about the secrets that he is keeping from her?

8 comments:

Susie Nott-Bower said...

LOVE your cover and title, Sue! Very best of luck with the trilogy, and thanks for a great post.
Susiex

Karen said...

Fantastic and inspiring story, and the book sounds great :o)

Talli Roland said...

Fascinating! Love the story - love the cover! Can't wait to have a read.

Sue Ransom said...

Thank you - the cover is rather fantastic, and all down to the fab people at Nosy Crow. I just wish they would let me keep the bracelet they commissioned for it! It's going to be a prize when book 3 comes out next January though.
Sue

Debs Riccio said...

Thanks so much for guesting, Sue, I LOVED 'Small Blue Thing' and can't wait to read the sequel after reading the little teaser chapter at the end. I'm still so in awe at how it all came to be, it's such an inspirational story!

Susannah Rickards said...

I love the sound of this book. Wish I had girls so I'd have an excuse to read it. I'll just have to buy it as research, ahem. Love ghost stories, and the setting sounds gorgeous.

That's such a great tale of how you wrote it too. I'm writing a kids' book for my sons and they too keep on at me to show it. You've given me incentive to finish it.

Susannah

Caroline Green said...

Amazing story of getting published...! Lovely cover too. Wish you the very best of luck with it...

Derek said...

A beautiful cover, an engaging premise and I'm mad keen curious to learn about the serendipity that led you to your publisher!