Vashti Hardy, author of, middle-grade sky-ship adventure, Brightstorm, speaks to us about Writing Kids' Books.
Vashti lives near Brighton in Sussex with her husband and three teens. She was a primary school teacher for several years, and has a special interest in children’s writing, especially free-writing and the use of journals and creating fantasy worlds.
I first started writing my ideas into fuller story form in my twenties. It all seemed untouchable until I heard Philip Pullman talk about how everyone sees the swan gliding across the surface and not the feet kicking furiously beneath the water – it lit a spark in me. If a writing hero was saying it was hard, I knew I could try.
I work in my day job full time and have three teens, so it’s whatever I can, whenever I can. Weekend mornings, lunch in the library, evenings, any time I can find really! Sunday mornings are great because the house is usually quiet!
The MA was great for getting a manuscript finished and experimenting, but it was Golden Egg that gave me the opportunity to work with industry editors on the story as a whole – getting to the all-important heart and backbone. It was Imogen Cooper that suggested Kate Shaw would be a good agent for me and I’ve never looked back!
I’ve always loved the stories of real-life explorers and one day I discovered the advert Shackleton had placed to find his crew for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. I knew there was a story there somewhere, with an advert for a great adventure set on another world. Brightstorm is about twins Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm whose explorer father loses his life on an expedition and is accused of breaking the ‘Explorers Code’. They are left with nothing but each other. They know the story they’ve been told doesn’t fit, so they decide to travel in his footsteps in search of the truth. Oh, and they travel in sky-ships!
Around four full length stories, the fourth being the one I worked on with Golden Egg, which I’d love to revisit at some point. Brightstorm came after Golden Egg so it was a great way to put the skills I’d learned so far to the test.
In all honesty, never. I’m quite tenacious and don’t like the thought of not giving things my all through the ups and the downs. I find it helps to remember what you can control and what you can’t – so focusing always on writing the best story. Plus, I love creating stories too much!
School visits are great and being a former teacher is helpful because it’s not daunting to get up in front of a large group, plus coming up with workshop ideas is second nature. My current day job as a digital marketer is also helpful when it comes to the website side, although there are some great templates out there which are easy to navigate so it’s not too daunting if you’re thinking of creating one.
I love meeting young readers – it’s magical. I most look forward to writing more stories and creating more worlds which I hope readers enjoy travelling to.
It’s a surprise! (Sorry!)
I absolutely love Michelle Paver’s writing and Philip Pullman’s of course! I admire anyone who can create a fantasy world so real you’ve no doubt it exists, somewhere…
Thanks so much to Vashti for stopping by. You can find out more about Vashti and the fabulous Brightstorm on her website www.vashtihardy.com
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