Poppy and Amelia didn’t set out to be witches. That happened quite by accident, and it’s a secret they must keep from their family and friends.
Then there is Mia, the new girl in class. Pale, strange and deadly serious, she’s in need of a couple of equally weird friends. Poppy and Amelia are happy to oblige.
Together, the three of them must thwart the plans of the sinister Miss Mortimer and her evil companions.
Today, I am delighted to be featuring a guest post by Misha Herwin, who has written a piece telling me about the experience of writing The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia with her nine-year-old granddaughter, Maddy, during Lockdown.
Let me hand over to Misha to tell us more:
Writing The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia by Misha Herwin
Thanks Julie for having me on your blog and letting me talk about the The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia.
I wrote this book together with Maddy, my nine year old granddaughter, during lockdown and in spite of the circumstances it was a truly joyful experience.
In March, like many other writers, I was finding working on my current book very slow going. A day’s work felt like ploughing through porridge. Very little got done and what I did write had somehow lost its flow.
The impetus to write had also faded and most days I found it almost impossible to get started. Nothing much seemed to matter. While other people re-decorated, caught up with DIY or re-modelled their gardens I let the time slip past.
Except for my four times a week Skype lessons with Maddy.
Maddy’s parents were both having to work from home and she has a four year old brother, so at the start of lockdown all the grandparents and any stray relatives had been roped in to help with her home schooling. My brief was to deliver English lessons. Having been a teacher in a middle school as well as in secondary education, this wasn’t going to be too hard.
How wrong could I be?
Working through what the school had sent was far from simple. I don’t blame the teachers, who had to put together a term’s worth of work almost overnight. Some of the material was great, some less than inspiring and some beyond awful. There was also the unrealistic expectation that given a stimulus pupils would then find a quiet space and write for twenty minutes. This would be hard to achieve in a classroom let alone a house, flat or even a bedsit with parents and siblings vying for space.
In the event, we managed and the reward at the end of each lesson was story time. Together Maddy and I wove the tale of two girls who became witches by accident and how they learned to use their growing skills. Added to the mix was Mia who like Poppy and Amelia has a secret of her own.
The characters evolved with the telling. Maddy knew exactly what each girl looked like and sent me a picture to make sure we got their descriptions right.
To keep up with their adventures I had to make notes and towards the end of lockdown I had the outline of a story which ran to about 5,000 words. Seeing how much we had I suggested to Maddy that we could publish an e-book for her to read on her tablet, to which she replied, “No Granny, I want a proper book; one I can take to school and with my picture on the back.”
And so began our joint editorial sessions. We cut down on the stories and we honed what had been written. Maddy put me right on things I had either forgotten, or got wrong and then when the book was well on its way, I took it to Renegade Writers.
My fellow Rens loved it. At our weekly on line meetings Michelle said it was like being back at primary school and having story time on the mat. Much as they enjoyed it, they didn’t spare me the feedback. Because the book had evolved from storytelling there were gaps in the narrative that needed to be filled, so after every meeting I had to do some re-writing then check with Maddy to see if she agreed with what I had done.
Only then was it ready for Jan Edward, my editor, and her comments led to more re-writing, until finally the book was finished.
Maddy had specified what she wanted on the cover, which was designed by Peter Coleborn of Penkull Press and by a stroke of luck, not to mention hard work, we managed to set publication day for 12th November, two days before Maddy’s birthday.
To share the joy we decided that all profits from the book would go to Blood Cancer UK in memory of my daughter and Maddy’s aunt who died of leukaemia on Christmas Eve 2002, aged 31. Posy, who was always up for an adventure, would have loved Poppy and Amelia and they are among my favourite characters in all the books I’ve written.
Maddy is very proud of her achievement and has already had signing sessions for her friends. We’ve also sold a load of books through her local bookshop in Bristol, Storysmith.
All in all, we’ve had a great time doing The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia and, judging from the feedback we’re getting, our readers are enjoying the book too.
The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia is available on Amazon and all other digital outlets. You can also order it from any bookshop and from Hive.co.uk.
Thank you for sharing that with us, Misha. What a lovely experience, and for a great cause too. A perfect story for Christmas time.
If you have been tempted to buy a copy of The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia, you can buy it here, and all the other places mentioned by Misha above.
About Misha Herwin
Misha Herwin was born in England to Polish parents. English was not her first language but once she learned, she never stopped talking or writing. Her first efforts were stories and plays for her younger sister. Since then she has moved on to women’s fiction, kids books and has had a number of short stories published in anthologies in the US and UK.
Her latest book ‘Belvedere Crescent’ is a time slip novel.
Her books for children include’City of Secrets’ and ‘Bridge of Lies’ the first two books in the series of ‘The Adventures of Letty Parker’.
Her short stories can be found in ‘The Alchemy Book of Ancient Wonders’, ‘Magical’, ‘Bitch Lit’ ‘Voices of Angel’ ‘Dear Robot’ among others.
“The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia” is her first co-written book.
Connect with Misha:
Facebook: Misha Herwin