A weblog about writing, books, teaching and the rest of life by the author Catherine Bruton.
Here’s me talking about teaching and writing on Day 1 of the ‘I Predict a Riot’ blog tour over on Teen Librarian’s fab site http://teenlibrarian.co.uk/2014/06/16/i-predict-a-riot-blog-tour-why-teaching-makes-me-a-better-writer-by-catherine-bruton/
I love publication day! The sun is shining, copies of I Predict a Riot adorn the shelves of the bookshops of Bath and lots of super lovely reviews are pouring in! Yes, today I have a big smile on my face.
Five days to I Predict a Riot’s book birthday! Yes, my latest YA novel hits the shelves till this Thursday, 5th June and to mark all the fives, here are five things you might want to know about I Predict a Riot (but never dared to ask!)
1. I Predict a Riot is the hard-hitting, hilarious and heart-breaking tale of three kids from very different backgrounds who set out to make a movie and end up involved in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever.
2. Inspired by the 2011 UK riots, the book is based on the stories of many amazing kids I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years: teenage gang members from South London; street kids in South Africa; as well as the children of politicians and pop stars. Their stories, their voices and their characters inspired what I wrote, but also served to remind me of the responsibility I had in writing about this topic.
3. I Predict a Riot was also inspired by a lesson on Lord of the Flies. I was teaching my Year 10s Golding’s novel, shortly after the UK riots. We ended up having a discussion about how kids ended up rioting and that shaped the novel I went on to write.
4. I set to challenge some of the commonly held assumptions about the kids who got caught up in the riots. I wanted to write an explosive book that would make readers cry … break their hearts … make them angry … make them think!
5. My literary influences are – um – a bit mixed! I Predict a Riot is Meg Rosoff meets ‘Made in Chelsea’, ‘The Knife that Killed Me’ meets ‘The Only way is Essex,’ or ‘Oliver Twist’ meets ‘ meets ‘The Outsiders’ meets ‘Top Boy’ meets ‘Youngers’ – with the odd dash of ‘Pigeon English, Dickens and ‘Son of Rambow’ along the way. Oh, and the Smurfs – they feature too!
I’ve been tagged in this ‘My Writing Process’ blog chain and I was feeling rather proud of myself because I’ve finally got the hang of these things work. So, each week a different author blogs about the book they’re working on next. Last week it was the turn of the fabulous Fleur Hitchcock talking about The Story Adventure – a ghost story of 11,000 words, written with the collaboration of lots of children. And now it’s over to me.
Only it turns out I’m a week late! So not feeling quite so smug now, am I!!! Oops – still here goes!
What am I working on at the moment?
I’m in the final stages of writing a book called ‘I Predict a Riot’. Inspired by the 2012 London riots, it’s the explosive and heart-breaking tale of three kids from very different backgrounds who set out to make a movie and end up involved in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever.
Why is it different from other books in the same genre?
Hmm – I’m trying to think what genre it actually is. I guess it’s ‘Pigeon English’ or ‘The Outsiders’ meets ‘Top Boy’ meets Annabel Pitcher or Meg Rosoff. Gritty, contemporary, hard-hitting, heart-breaking teen fiction, perhaps?
But what makes it different? Well, it’s written like a film script for a start. The story is narrated by amateur film-maker Maggie who prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. When she meets Tokes, the kid with the past, running from trouble, she finds a great subject for her film. And when violence erupts on the streets, led by the ruthless Starfish gang, Maggie has the perfect backdrop for her movie. But as the world explodes Maggie can’t hide behind the lens anymore.
So the whole thing is told in scenes from the film, flashbacks, camera angles – which I suppose reflects my own love of movies, and the fact that I tend to see all my books in quite a cinematic way as I’m writing.
Why do I write what I do?
In all my books I try to address really current contemporary issues. This book is set in fictional neighbourhood of London but it is based on Peckham where I lived for many years, and the characters are based on kids I worked with in youth groups there, and also street kids I met whilst working on projects in South Africa and Namibia. I wanted to reflect the reality of their lives, but also to flip assumptions about class and race on their heads. I wanted to write an explosive book that would make readers cry …break their hearts … make them angry … make them think!
Who are you passing the baton to for next week’s Next Big Thing?
Two of my lovely fellow Bath authors:
Anna Wilson is the author of oodles of fabulous, funny children’s books about her family and other animals (monkeys, puppies, kittens, chickens – you name it!) This year sees her eagerly anticipated teen debut, Summer’s Shadow which comes out on 3rd July. Read her blog here http://acwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/my-writing-process-blog-tour/
Very excited to get cover proofs through for my new book this week! ‘I Predict a Riot’ is scheduled for publication in Spring 2013, and it might just be the book I am most proud of. Here’s the blurb!!!
It’s a year since everything happened but I still have bad dreams. Dreams of me and Tokes and Little Pea, running through burning streets on the night the city was in flames…
Welcome to Coronation Road, a kaleidoscope of clashing cultures and parallel lives. There’s Maggie and her politician mum in their big house. There’s Tokes and his mum in a tiny bedsit, running from trouble. And there’s the ruthless Starfish gang, breeding fear throughout the neighbourhood.
Amateur film maker Maggie prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. In Tokes she finds a great subject for her new film. And when violence erupts, led by the Starfish gang, Maggie finds the perfect backdrop. But as the world explodes around her, Maggie can’t hide behind the lens anymore.
Oh, I do so love the cover for my forthcoming book ‘I Predict a Riot’. I think it may just be my favourite cover yet – and I love them all! Anyway, here’s the double page spread for you to enjoy. No tag line yet and it’s quite low res so the writing looks a bit funny but I still think it’s a thing of beauty!
I’ve been tagged in this ‘Next Big Thing’ blog chain thingie. The whole thing bamboozled me at first but I think I’ve got the hang of it now! Basically, each week a different author blogs about the book they’re working on next. Last week it was the turn of the fabulous Joanna Nadin (http://joannanadin.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-next-big-thing/) talking about the long-awaited final instalment of her Rachel Riley Series (can’t wait, Jo!). And now it’s over to me.
Now, if I’d been asked to do this a month ago, I’d have dissolved into a jibbering wreck. I was in despair over my next book and ready to throw the whole thing down the toilet (I think it was Iris Murdoch who said that, ‘Every book is the ruin of a perfect idea’ – so true!). But I’ve just finished a second draft and I’m feeling all buzzy and excited and just a little bit in love with it now. So, I’ve mastered hyperlinks and memes and I’m all raring to go. So here it is – this is my ‘Next Big Thing’.
What’s the title of your next book?
It hasn’t got one yet! I have to submit the manuscript to my publishers in January so it’s just got a working title at the moment. Well, it’s sort of got two working titles and I can’t decide which one I prefer. Ooh – perhaps you can help. What do you think: ‘Looking out for Little Pea’ or ‘Little Pea, the New Kid and Me’ – answers on a postcard please. Oh, or ‘Pea-shooters’ – sometimes I quite like that one? Clearly I’m rubbish at the whole book title bit!
Where did the idea come from?
It was inspired by the 2012 London riots. I wanted to write about three kids from very different background all of whom become involved in the riots for different reasons – and about the fall-out when they do.
What genre does your book fall under?
I suppose it’s a mixture between comedy and gritty social realism – which sounds odd but there you have it. Think Frank Cottrell Boyce meets Pigeon English, I suppose!
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?
Definitely Malcolm Kamulete who starred in ‘Top Boy’ for Tokes because I always had him in mind when I was writing the character. And maybe a young Dakota Blue Richards for Zenna – if we can find a time machine and make her 12/13 again!
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A hilarious and heartbreaking tale of three kids who set out to make a movie and end up involved in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Egmont and is currently scheduled for release in January 2014
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 7 months
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
‘Framed’ or ‘The Unforgotten Coat’ by Frank Cottrell Boyce; a younger version of ‘Pigeon English’ by Stephen Kelman; or ‘The Outsiders’ by S E Hinton. Oh, there’s a bit of ‘Cat and Mouse’ by Cathy Cassidy too!
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the London riots, an amazing TV series called ‘Top Boy’, the kids I worked with on inner city project in London, and on a programme for street children in South Africa– oh, and ‘Made in Chelsea’!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I commit literary murder for the first time! Yes, somebody dies – it’s the first time I’ve ever killed a character on page and I found it really, really hard. I cried buckets and buckets when I wrote that chapter and I sob like a baby every time I read it!
Who are you passing the baton to for next week’s Next Big Thing?
To my lovely schoolyard author pals:
Fleur Hitchcock http://fleurhitchcock.wordpress.com/
Maudie Smith http://maudiesmith.co.uk/blog/