What would you do if a flying saucer landed outside your house?
Danny Chaucer is lonely and bored. Nat Ford is the new girl at school and spends half her time trying to dodge the bullies. Nothing interesting ever happens in their dead-end village. Nothing that is until one still, starry night when something happens behind the trees at the end of Danny’s garden. He’s not quite sure what – except that suddenly everyone seems to be looking for something, including the sinister Captain Frost.
There might be only one way to escape – and that’s up …
That’s my first stab at the blurb of my new book, provisionally titled Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer. (No idea whether that title will survive; I just like the fact that Chaucer rhymes with Saucer. Opinions welcome!)
You’ve probably worked out it’s a children’s book. More specifically it’s aimed at roughly 8-11 year olds. This is a departure for me, as BASIC Boy and Falling Girl are 11+ up to YA territory. So why have I gone younger for the new one? Well there are several reasons.
The first is that, when I was a kid, I did actually daydream about having my own flying saucer, of being able to just take off, to cruise though the skies and up to the stars, soaring far and above my problems. Of course I’d be the envy of everyone. Probably it’s the classic introvert’s dream – to be liked and admired, but also to be able to get away, to stand apart. Cool at last.
(Mind you, that’s not quite how it works out for Danny, Keeping the saucer secret is going to be one of his biggest problems – a lot of people will be very interested in something like that.)
The second reason is simply that, like a lot of writers, I want to try my hand at different things. (One day I’d like to write an adult novel too, but not just yet.) I don’t think I’ve finished with YA, but I want to see if I can write for children. The fact that I have two boys, aged six and ten – both of whom need some encouragement to read very much – is part of the motivation too.
I believe children’s literature is tremendously important, and writing it well is a talent sadly too often underrated. To create stories that children can understand and relate to, without patronising them, to inspire and to instil a love of reading – what a wonderful thing that is.
Third, I think this concept has good series potential. The first book sets the scene for more to come. I mean, there’s lots of places you can go in a flying saucer, right? And it does seem that, if you want to sell some books, having a series is a definite advantage. Producing more, shorter books, more frequently, makes sense to me as a strategy. (I also have some marketing ideas – not unrelated to the age of my sons.)
And finally, I have a sneaking suspicion that space is going to get bigger over the next few years. (Well it’s already pretty big, but you know what I mean.) We are less than five years away from the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic first step on the surface of the moon. There is the fairly imminent prospect of the first commercial space flight, and perhaps a manned mission to Mars in the not too distant future. And that’s just from the US and Europe – who knows where China’s ambitions will take them?
And have you heard about NASA’s flying saucer? It’s all happening you know.
I’m aiming to have Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer finished in early 2015. The first draft is done, the second is underway. Next time I’ll talk about my approach to the writing, what I’ve done so far and how I plan to get from here to publication.