Recently I had the privilege of editing a delightful adventure fantasy novel for new children’s author Carina Coles. I felt like the midwife at the birth of this book, coaxing the reluctant manuscript – which had lain hidden in a drawer for years – into its final shape and bringing it out into the light. Now The Secret of Adley Castle is available worldwide from Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore. I’m almost as proud as if I’d written it myself!
I was even more delighted to meet Carina in person. She’s a sparkling, optimistic and inspiring example of how midlife women are making their mark in the creative arts. This is where the wisdom of years begins to bear fruit – by midlife we’ve been living for decades, and bring that experience to what we make and do.
I asked Carina if she’d share with us some thoughts about the progress of her writing from idea to published book:
When did you first envisage yourself as an author, or become aware of a desire to write books?
As a child I was very affected by stories and will never forget the shock of Wilbur losing his courageous friend in Charlotte’s Web. My love of reading was further nurtured after a fairy began to leave letters for me (written by my Grandmother) in a tree hollow! Even though I loved to tell imaginative stories as a child it wasn’t until my own children arrived that I actually started to pen down these tales and once I began writing – I was hooked.
What influenced your choice to write for children?
After rediscovering children’s literature as an adult I couldn’t seem to get enough! I greedily inhaled books by Emily Rodda, Duncan Ball and Paul Jennings as well as revisiting many old friends from a number of popular children’s classics. Though I had little formal writing education, I always had a knack for entertaining youngsters and discovered that writing allowed me to tap into a world that delighted me as a child – filled with adventurous plots and memorable characters.
When did The Secret of Adley Castle begin to gestate? Can you describe a little about its journey toward publication?
For a number of years my husband and I worked in conference centres which offered activity camps for school children. I observed first-hand the curiosity and excitement these children experienced visiting remote and unfamiliar landscapes. Living onsite our family often stayed in centres with playgrounds ready-made for adventure including waterslides, archery and canoeing, and I imagined twins moving to a centre with a twist, one that featured a castle and movie sets.
I began writing the book 10 years ago! Initially its journey included two editors who assisted me in completing the first three chapters, followed by a very honest and helpful manuscript assessment agency who informed me that due to the intended age-group (8 to 12 years) I should trim 30,000 words and lose the first three chapters. I’m so glad that I heeded their advice which meant every word had to prove its importance to the story.
It wasn’t until I moved to Hobart this year and sensed I’d finally ‘come home’ that I felt brave enough to take my rewritten and trimmer story out of the dusty drawer. I sought out a professional editor regarding a final edit and was thrilled to learn she could also format and upload the ebook to completion.
4. What have been the most challenging, and the most enjoyable aspects, of publishing your book?
The most challenging aspect… umm… probably the fact that I don’t have my own computer at the moment and so had to borrow my son’s! Trying to learn a whole new technical language as well as the capabilities of various platforms has been a challenge, and making sure I had a US Tax File Number, a credit card, an ABN number, proof that I was registered for GST and a domain name before filling out the applications for Amazon and iBookstore.
Most enjoyable has been meeting my delightful and techno-savvy editor who not only guided me through unfamiliar territory but also offered chocolate and a guinea pig to pat if I became too overwhelmed by the process! It’s been great seeing my story alive and accessible to others and realising that many authors like myself have decided to seize the opportunity to publish with Amazon and iBookstore.
The Secret of Adley Castle is downloadable in Kindle and iBook formats and will shortly be available in print. Set on a fantasy isle inhabited by peculiar locals and a contemporary film set called Movieplot, it executes a classic treasure hunt storyline complete with iPhones, boulder dragons and unexpected diversions. Max and Miranda are the lively twin protagonists.
Carina Coles won first place in the Young Adult Books category for her novel Torn at the annual Children’s and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators Conference, Queensland, 2012. Watch out for this book, plus the up-and-coming prequel to The Secret of Adley Castle.