In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction

Have you seen Tiberius Small?

So what's happening with Tiberius Small, the six foot ten year old with the loaded gun and 2.5 million stolen Euros? You'd thing a boy that dangerous would have a load of people after him! Well, he hasn't been caught yet. He's still out there looking for a new venture. In fact even though he's six foot tall he has to jump up and down to get noticed.

Actually a couple of agents did catch a glimpse of him. I guess they shook their heads and said, "I do not believe it!" I reckon Tiberius Small will just have to leap higher and wave his arms around more vigorously. After all he is a boy who never gives up.

Early days. I have sent Tiberius Small to act the fool in front of three other agents and I am looking for others he might entertain. Success is all in the luck and timing (and having a good book in the first place... that fits). After all my first book Inside the Glasshouse was rejected by 12 publishers before it landed on Christopher Reid's desk at Faber & Faber and he liked the idea enough to develop it with me all those years ago. Had it arrived a week later ... or he'd had a headache... who knows? The same goes with agents I guess.

However, I am enjoying the regular Twitter event #askagent where hopefuls: young, old, experienced, whoever, can ask questions of agents about getting published. It is like having Radio 4 wired straight into your head. I haven't asked any questions, but I enjoy hearing the answers, which mostly seem to be that there are no real answers except: don't give up, keep trying, don't follow trends, be yourself, work to improve, we read everything...

So I go on...

Truth can't be revised but it can be found through revision.

How do I feel now I've finished re-reading the first draft of my new book? A little perplexed and looking for kind words to deliver myself a difficult message. My then editor Christopher Reid found the words to describe one of my early drafts of Badgerman & Bogwitch:

"I'm afraid, though, I am still quite a long way from being satisfied. The whole thing still gives me the impression of muddled improvisation, and it has grown to an unwieldy size in the process....One of your weaknesses here and elsewhere, may have been the very fertility of your imagination."

And this is true of the new book. Rein in the imagination, find the truth of the characters, discover the real story and set it out in clear terms.

Back in 1990 when Christopher Reid wrote me that letter, I went for a stomp round the woods to vent my anger & despair. Now I am wiser. I keep the letter close by and listen to what it tells me.

You can rewrite a book; it is foolhardy to rewrite history.