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Eight Questions With… Simon David Eden

Hi Simon, welcome to Teen Librarian! Can I ask you to introduce yourself to the audience please?

Greetings and salutations from Sussex-on-toast (as Steve Martin once called it) it’s great to be ‘virtually’ joining you. As a former singer-songwriter turned artist turned screenwriter turned playwright turned novelist, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I’m open to embracing new frontiers, and the whole blogging universe is totally new to me, so cool, let’s do this! Eh, do I need to wear special goggles? A safety harness of some kind? I get a little woozy in confined spaces (and in deep water, and on top of very, very tall buildings with low guard rails), you know, just so’s you know, in case this becomes one of those things I have to add to the list next time. Blogs, well, I’d love to but after the Teen Librarian experience …

The Savage Kingdom is your first novel; can you describe it in one sentence to hook a potential reader?

THE BEST BOOK YOU’LL READ ALL SUMMER BY FAR! Okay, fair enough, I would say that right. You want more. In one sentence? OK, what they call in Hollywood the elevator pitch:

MANKIND VS THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, WHICH SIDE ARE YOUR PETS ON?

You were originally self-published, how did you go from being an indie author to being picked up by Simon & Schuster?

I’m a great believer in ‘be the miracle’. If you have a dream, believe in it, go after it whatever it takes. It may take years. If it’s a dream that’s worth anything it’ll probably also be a really tough road full of rejection and disappointment and setbacks. And most likely it’ll lead you to a destination you didn’t expect. But the journey will be an experience all the same. And that’s the true reward. I didn’t get paid to write my novel originally. I wrote it because l had to. I had to get it and those characters out of my head, out of my system, and I wanted to share some stuff I felt about the world with my smart, feisty, inquisitive, beautiful daughter. I don’t know what my agent (the wonderful Zoe King of The Blair Partnership) would say, or the amazing team at Simon & Schuster, but I think they picked it up because it was written from the heart, because I completely ignored ‘the market’ and just wrote a story I was burning to tell, one that surprised and thrilled me and kept me awake at night. Chances are if it does that to you as a writer, it’ll do it to someone else too.

You are also a writer of stage and screenplays, do you find yourself having to think in different ways when writing a novel as opposed to a play?

Hmmm. Great question. The obvious difference is that novels are a marathon while plays/screenplays are a sprint (to this writer anyway). But actually, I think there are more similarities than differences between books and film/TV. Both, when they work well, are very visual. In the latter the creator makes the choice about exactly what it is you are seeing, just like comics and graphic novels, whereas in novels the author seeks to create a picture in the mind’s eye of the reader, and of course that film that’s playing inside your head is different from mine and for every other person reading it. That’s why dedicated fans of novels are often disappointed by adaptations of their favourite works/characters, but it would be impossible to put something on the screen that represented everyone’s idea of what it should be. Stage plays are a different challenge altogether, as with few exceptions, they rely much more heavily on dialogue to carry story and convey character. I love working across all the disciplines – songwriting too – and find it creatively stimulating to move between them. Right now though I’m thrilled to be writing The Savage Kingdom Book II and seeing where Drue and Will-C and the other main characters lead me and whether the survivors of Book I can find a way to live together. Some very big twists and turns in store!

What inspires you to write?

Originally it was Dan Dare (The Eagle comic circa 1964). Him and Spiderman and my dad. They fired my imagination and encouraged me to make stuff up and scribble it down when I was still a kid learning joined-up writing. Because we barely had two pennies to rub together, I had to get inventive about feeding my habit for comics as I couldn’t afford to buy them. So what I did, is I drew my own. Frame by frame. Page by page. Copying others at first, before branching out and inventing my own characters and stories. Below is a snap from a pencil rendition (with apologies to Stan Lee, I was 12 and knew nothing about copyright!) of the origin of Spidey. I drew the whole comic. Spent months on it. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a great tool for learning about the economy of storytelling. That’s why I love writing for YA and younger readers. You can’t get away with anything. The story either works or it doesn’t. The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright/novelist David Mamet said an interesting thing about story: All a reader/viewer really cares about is what happens next. What’s inspiring me to write TSK Book II today is exactly that. What happens next!

spidermannn

What is your favourite part in the writing process?

Typing The End! Always a moment of great satisfaction. But I also love all of the stuff that precedes the actual writing. First hand research is key to me and something I really enjoy. Not just trawling the web (though it’s a very useful tool) but hanging out in cafes listening to people, visiting far flung places, experiencing new cultures, discovering new things. What’s also magical, is that moment when you are so absorbed in the tale that the characters begin to lead you where you didn’t expect to go. You’re writing it, supposedly in charge, but they are demanding to take a different path than the one you had planned. That’s always thrilling and a sign to me that a piece is really flying.

Were you a reader as a child/teen and do you read works by other YA authors?

If I wasn’t kicking a ball or building a den in the woods, my nose was always in a comic or a book. I particularly loved stories that explored the wild and involved animals or animal/human relationships: Watership Down, The Call of the Wild and White Fang. I’m still an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, and yes, there’s some brilliant YA on my shelves. I loved The Book Thief, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, the Dark Materials Trilogy, and though I haven’t bought a copy yet, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park looks like a great read too.

What do you have planned next – after The Savage Kingdom?

The Savage Kingdom Book II! And I’m also thinking about revisiting that world with a third instalment, but I can’t say too much about that yet. If I promise not to drone on for too long, perhaps you’ll invite me back on Teen Librarian for an update down the line. It’s been great sharing some thoughts with you.

And remember, creative writers aren’t much use without creative readers!

With best wishes,

SDE
www.SimonDavidEden.com

www.TheSavageKingdom.com

CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards long-lists

Now THESE are long-lists – 68 titles for the Carnegie Award and 64 for the Kate Greenaway Award. As my colleague and friend CazApr1 said on her blog I too am a bit put out by the lack of Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne. HSB was excluded because it had first been published as an adult novel rather than a simultaneous adult/YA publication. There are some excellent titles on the list, I even know some of the authors – but will try not to play favourites. I will have a look at who I think will make it onto the short-list at a later date.

Books are nominated by librarians that are members of CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), the nominated books are then checked for eligibility before being placed on the long-list. You can view the criteria for the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards here: Carnegie Award Criteria and the Kate Greenaway Award Criteria.

I am going to start my Shadowing of the Awards now to flex my reading and reviewing muscles in preparation for becoming a judge in 2014 when there will probably be over 100 titles on each list.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist:

Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond (Puffin Books)
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke (Walker Books)
The Traitors by Tom Becker (Scholastic)
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Naked by Kevin Brooks (Puffin Books)
Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin Books)
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing)
Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)
The Broken Road by B.R. Collins (Bloomsbury)
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker Books)
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (Oxford University Press)
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Quercus Publishing)
Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (Marion Lloyd Books)
Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Puffin Books)
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean (Brambleby Books)
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber)
Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books)
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children’s Books)
The Seeing by Diana Hendry (Bodley Head)
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker Books)
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books)
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)
The Prince Who Walked With Lions by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books)
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Itch by Simon Mayo    (Corgi Children’s Books)
At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Andersen Press)
The Treasure House by Linda Newbery (Orion Children’s Books)
All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)
Hitler’s Angel by William Osborne (Chicken House)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)
Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)
Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)
This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)
Goblins by Philip Reeve (Marion Lloyd Books)
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)
Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts (Templar Publishing)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (Profile Books)
The Flask by Nicky Singer (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells (Corgi Children’s Books)
A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Longlist:

The Big Snuggle-Up by Nicola Bayley (illustrator) and Brian Patten (Andersen Press)
North: The Greatest Animal Journey on Earth by Patrick Benson (illustrator) and Nick Dowson (Walker Books)
How Do You Feel? by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle (Puffin Books)
Have You Ever Ever Ever? by Emma Chichester Clark (illustrator) and Colin McNaughton (Walker Books)
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Emma Chichester Clark (illustrator) and Michael Morpurgo (Walker Books)
Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Goggle-Eyed Goats by Christopher Corr (illustrator) and Stephen Davies (Andersen Press)
Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon (Hutchinson)
Soonchild by Alexis Deacon (illustrator) and Russell Hoban (Walker Books)
The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing)
Arthur’s Dream Boat by Polly Dunbar (Walker Books)
Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play International)
Friends by Michael Foreman (Andersen Press)
Wild Child by Lorna Freytag (illustrator) and Jeanne Willis (Walker Books)
Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Robin Hood by Anne Yvonne Gilbert (illustrator) and Nicky Raven (Templar Publishing)
A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham (Walker Books)
Again! by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Toys in Space by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
A First Book of Nature by Mark Hearld (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (Walker Books)
The Great Snortle Hunt by Kate Hindley (illustrator) and Claire Freedman (Simon & Schuster)
Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson (Nosy Crow)
Children’s Books)
Jonathan & Martha by Petr Horáček (Phaidon)
The Hueys in The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by W.E. Joyce (co-illustrator and writer) and Joe Bluhm (illustrator) (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Goldilocks on CCTV by Satoshi Kitamura (illustrator) and John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales by Kate Leiper (illustrator) and Theresa Breslin (Floris Books)
Demolition by Brian Lovelock (illustrator) and Sally Sutton (Walker Books)
The Skeleton Pirate by David Lucas (Walker Books)
The Frank Show by David Mackintosh (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Jackie Morris (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Pirates ‘n’ Pistols by Chris Mould (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Worst Princess by Sara Ogilvie (illustrator) and Anna Kemp (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
King Jack and the Dragon by Helen Oxenbury (illustrator) and Peter Bently (Puffin Books)
My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Jonathan Cape)
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (Templar Publishing)
Where is Fred? by Ali Pye (illustrator) and Edward Hardy (Egmont Books)
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray (Orchard Books)
The Yoga Ogre by Simon Rickerty (illustrator) and Peter Bently (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
One Cool Cat by David Roberts (illustrator) and Susannah Corbett (Egmont Children’s Books)
Who Am I? by Tony Ross (illustrator) and Gervase Phinn (Andersen Press)
Fly, Chick, Fly! by Tony Ross (illustrator) and Jeanne Willis (Andersen Press)
Just Ducks! by Salvatore Rubbino (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (Walker Books)
Just Imagine by Nick Sharratt (illustrator) and Pippa Goodhart (Doubleday Children’s Books)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
ABC London by Kate Slater (illustrator) and James Dunn (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children’s Books)
Ella by Alex T. Smith (Scholastic)
Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (Alison Green Books)
Jack and the Baked Beanstalk by Colin Stimpson (Templar Publishing)
Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower (Templar Publishing)
The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse by Helen Ward (Templar Publishing)
Leave Me Alone by Lee Wildish (illustrator) and Kes Gray (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems (Walker Books)
Eric! by Christopher Wormell (Jonathan Cape)
Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates (Jonathan Cape)
Hans and Matilda by Yokococo (Templar Publishing)