Now that my children’s novel, The Dragon Box, is ‘out there’, I thought I’d give a little background to it.
This was the first book I started writing. Not the first book I finished, but the first I started. That was back when Eldest was 10 or 11. He was having trouble with another boy calling him names because of his ineptitude at football. The truth was Eldest HATED football and only played it because he had to during sport at school. But he was in a class that had older children in it as well and this one boy, a sporting champion (though not a sportsman, obviously), decided he’d encourage him along with some choice names. The school soon put an end to it when I complained, but the seeds of a story were planted and I began to write ‘The Dragon Box’ for Eldest. If you want to know how we dealt with the problem of the teasing as a family, you'll have to read the book!
About ten chapters in, the novel stalled. My husband read it and suggested that the idea of a young boy being befriended by an old man in this day and age might be seen as ‘politically incorrect’. I thought that was pretty silly, but had to admit that PI sticklers might indeed see it that way. So it sat on my hard drive for a long time until discussion on a writing site gave me the idea of making the old man a long-time, trusted friend of the boy’s mother. Not a perfect solution, but it worked for me.
Two completed drafts of the book went through CritiqueCircle. I ended up cutting four chapters from the beginning, realising that the fantasy element started way too late to keep children’s interest as it was. The first six chapters of the final draft stayed in the Top Ten at You Write On for 30 days. Had it stayed there one more day, it would have won a professional review from a major publisher, but them’s the breaks, as they say.
Then it sat for a lot longer on my hard drive until a friend gave me a virtual kick and insisted I send it to a publisher. Actually, she did more than that. She sent it to a publisher, one of the Big Six, something I would never have been brave enough to do. Though they didn’t end up taking it, it did get to that final decision-making stage we all dream of reaching (and passing) and their feedback was promising. After that we tried a few other publishers, but it wasn’t to be and the long waits were getting to me. I figured if I waited for as many rejections as JK Rowling, I’d be into my sixties before I was published. So, now it’s an e-book, hopefully ready to ride the crest of the children’s e-book wave. With Kindles now available in real stores, I figure more and more young people are going to be using e-readers. My daughter loves mine!
By the way, the dragon on the cover is one I drew ages ago when I was on holidays. I didn’t intend to use it for the book then; it was just an illustration for the sake of something to do. But I’m glad I did it. It made doing the cover so much easier!