Last week Roy Gill asked me if I would like to be tagged in his blog as part of ‘The Next Big Thing’. I said yes. It works like this:
A writer answers ten questions about an upcoming publication and they tag five more writers. Each of these writers answers the ten questions by the following week and they recommend five more writers. It grows, week by week.
Before I get to my post I’d like to point out that Roy Gill is ace. He’s an inspiring and talented writer and the best person I’ve found at any literary event to talk to about Doctor Who. I recommend his new young adult book The Deamon Parallel. You can read all about it on his post here.
Now, onward. I’ll answer ten questions about Banana Me Beautiful. The e-book came out last year through Chipmunka Press but the paperback is due out for Christmas so it still counts as new.
What is the title of your new book?
Banana Me Beautiful
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I sent three children’s stories to mental health publisher, Chipmunka. The stories were going down well in schools and I wanted to get them published to help children and teachers to promote dialogue around positive mental health through story.
Chipmunka asked me about my experience with mental health and I explained a bit about my past and sent them a few poems as part of that explanation. They liked them and asked for 50. I said I didn’t have 50 good ones and so they asked for 30. I hadn’t really planned to write a poetry book so I was a bit taken aback!
Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with a close friend a year or so before where I told her I wanted to put together a collection of poetry I’d written as a child, teenager and adult. I realised this was my chance.
I was first published when I was 10 so I’d kept all the poems I wrote back then. I was so bad at spelling though – I’d given up the dream of being a writer by the time I’d got to secondary school. I ended up focusing on art and science instead. I still wrote but in secret. I wrote lots. I also painted depressed bananas – they’re in the book too. The one above is Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles with a depressed banana on the chair. The one below is a depressed banana in prison (imagine a person sat on the floor, sideways on and with their knees bent).
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s poetry with added stories, songs, artwork and photographs.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmm. I’m not sure anyone would want to make ‘My Life In Poetry’ the movie.
But if they did… me as a child would be Lucy from the Narnia films (Georgie Henley).
Me as a teenager, Aimee Pond from Doctor Who (Karen Gillan).
*I might just be choosing people I like rather than people who would be like me*
Feeling a bit embarrassed about this question, was just getting carried away and wondering if Maggie Smith could play me as a Granny!
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A journey of poetry, art and photography.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s published by Chipmunka Press, the world’s leading mental health publisher. I’ve been working with a couple of agents but not on this.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started when I was 10, I finished at 28 so that’s 18 years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don’t know of any other poetry collection that contains work from the same author as a child, teenager and adult but Peggy Hughes compared me to Edward Lear, Dr Seuss and A. A. Milne when I appeared at the West Port Book Festival.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think it was always in me. But more recently I wanted to share something of my struggles as a teenager to help others not to feel alone and to talk about difficult things. The things I’ve written as an adult are a celebration. They’re about self acceptance and they highlight the wonder I see in the world around me.
People who’ve seen me perform have said some lovely things – that my work is life-affirming and an expression of joy. It makes them feel good about themselves. If I can do that even a tiny bit then I’m happy.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book tells a story of so many journeys; progression of themes in writing, growing up, insecurity, self acceptance and much more. The book forward describes it as this:
It’s a journey by poetry, art and photography.
It’s a journey of ages and stages.
Of fascination and fun,
Of hope and despair,
Death and life.
It’s a journey from Banana Slug to Beautiful Bug.
So the combination of media. Also the art science cross over. There are poems about puffins and the physics behind starlings. There are energy saving lightbulbs, a comedy horse songs and a story of a little oak becoming a mighty tree.
Hopefully there’s something for everyone. Find out more on the Banana Me Beautiful facebook page here.
The Writers I’m Tagging
I’m super excited to introduce you to these writers. They will tell you about their new projects on their blogs next week (drum roll please)….
David Bishop is writing a Swedish comic (super-exciting!). I know him as a fellow CBeebies screenwriter, and he’s also a screenwriter for Doctors and a lecturer and many other things.
Marianne Paget keeps winning competitions and her latest triumph was being selected for the Scottish Book Trust and BBC My Favourite Place anthology. Marianne and I have been in a writers group together for over a year now and we first met through CBeebies.
Max Scratchmann is about to launch his autobiographical book The Last Burrah Sahibs. I just met Max last month at Portobello Book Festival but I thought his book sounded really interesting and I’d like to know more.
Marianne Wheelaghan has just launched a new crime thriller Food of Ghosts. I’ve known Marianne as a fellow Leither on twitter for a long time but recently got to know her better at a social media training session I was running at Stockbridge Library.
Sharon Meiring-Jones is a brilliant writer, currently working on her second book. She used to live in Edinburgh and we were in a writers group together for a couple of years. Sharon was published through Chipmunka and that’s how I heard about them. So if it wasn’t for Sharon I’d not be writing this post!
Click everyone’s name to be taken to their blog.