Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Guest Post: Peter Jay Black - Urban Outlaws - Published by Bloomsbury

Peter Jay Black....
I’ve spent my entire life daydreaming when I should’ve been doing more important things like, oh, I don’t know. . . learning to cook? Every meal I try to prepare gets exterminated in some glorious fashion or another. I even managed to set fire to an oven grill once, just because I didn’t realise the slab of fish had a foam/plastic thing under it. Apparently, you’re supposed to peel that off. Who knew?

So, as you can probably tell, I get distracted, A LOT. I’m often thinking and daydreaming about all sorts of crazy things.

I’ve dreamt about being able to fly – the places I’d visit, the way I’d feel swooping between buildings and over landscapes.

I’ve imagined being a ninja, sneaking up on nasty people and knocking them out with a swift chop to the neck.

I’ve also imagined inventing a time machine and what I’d do with it. In fact, if I did have a time machine, I think I’d probably travel back to the 21st of October, 1983 (I was seven). I’d hang around outside my old house until six o’clock in the evening and then I’d storm into the dining room and slap the fork out of my seven-year-old self’s hand, just before I had taken the first bite of the dumplings on my plate. You see, I didn’t know it at the time, but my mum had made those dumplings out of a packet that had been two years out of date. TWO YEARS. I was so sick that it took another twenty years before I could look at dumplings without turning pale.

Anyway, you get my point - I’m a daydreamer. Always have been. Always will be. And, the way that I’ve used that is to write it down. To create secret bunkers, gadgets, to live in a world that’s a lot more fun than this one.

In my late twenties, I decided I wanted to be a writer. Now, because of all the daydreaming, I hadn’t done too well in school, and must have been asleep during English lessons. All of them. So, I taught myself basic grammar, worked on the craft, and eight years later I have a five book deal. Easy, right?

I wish it was.

After a lot of hard work, thousands of hours exploring our wonderful language, millions of muttered swear words, and billions of nuked brain cells later, I had a finished novel. I, of course, thought it was a masterpiece. I sent it to an editor, got torn to shreds, learnt from my mistakes, moved on. . .

Next was book number two. I wrote, rewrote, edited, rewrote again. . . You get my point? Finally ready, I slung the novel out to a few agents and one in particular was VERY keen. She suggested revisions, I worked hard and in two weeks I sent it back with high hopes.

I never heard from her again.

Man, the disappointment.

But, I didn’t give up.

That’s the theme here: Never give up. A cliché, yes. I don’t care – it’s true.

After that, I remember talking to a friend of mine and saying, ‘I want to write about five kids, who are independent, outsmart adults and have a lot of fun. . .’ Basically, something to fight back with. Something to pour every ounce of what I’d learnt into. Something that I hoped I could share with as many people as possible.

"And so, the Urban Outlaws were born: Five cool, clever kids, who are trying to do what they think is right."

Thankyou very much Peter for such a great insight into writing Urban Outlaws. This book is being published by Bloomsbury Children's on the 13th March 2014 - so make sure that you all grab a copy.


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