A guest post from:
Will Mabbitt, Author of Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City
February 2016, Viking Books for Young Readers
Q: I've heard writers say before, that writing a sequel can be the best and most challenging thing a writer can experience. On the plus side, you have firm deadlines and support, so you have a more concrete idea of where you need to go from here on out.
On the downside, the very idea of concrete! deadlines! (exclamation points for emphasis!) can be a bit of an adjustment. Would you mind sharing how this may or may not have applied to you when it came to writing Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City?
“The Dreaded Second Novel, eh?” He said taking the seat next to me uninvited. He was right! I had been warned. “The second book is the hardest” they would say. And they were right! Only the first line of the second Mabel Jones novel was done, and I had begun to panic, going through a never-ending cycle of writing, reading, and then deleting. The first book had been easy. I’d written it in my spare time for fun, and when I got stuck I’d just do something else for fun instead – it didn’t matter, no-one was going to read it anyway. This book was different. This book felt more like work! People were expecting things. My mind skipped to Ben, my editor. I imagined him holding a blank manuscript and looking at me over the top of his glasses, his eyes flashing with an impatient, brewing rage –“Is this it Mabbitt? IS THIS IT!?!”
There was something about this semi-naked old man, though. Something wise. I trusted him.
He looked out of the window, and watched as a murmuration of starlings danced around the skeletal remains of Brighton’s ruined pier.
Then he turned his gaze to me and spoke.
“I’ll give you some advice young man, for I have read your first book and though you are sadly lacking in technical ability, you have a kindly face and an unfortunate nose that warrants my pity.”
He leant forward and put his old wrinkly hand on mine, and continued.
“Be grateful. Be grateful in that you are finally getting paid to be a writer. Be grateful you have already achieved your ambition – which is rare – and that every day that follows is an extra blessing. Think not of what is expected of you, instead think upon what you have already achieved. The words will come. You just have to stop worrying...”
And with these words he stood up and walked away.
I looked at my laptop, and there and then I began to write. And I couldn’t stop. In minutes the first page was complete. I sighed in contentment, and was reaching for my reward when I realized it was missing.
The old man had stolen my apricot croissant.
HAH! We love this pragmatic hilarious response from Will, croissants and all. ;)
About the book:
What do you do when you survive a pirate kidnapping, a milk-drinking contest with a giant grizzly bear, and a stint inside the belly of a whale?
If you’re Mabel Jones, you do everything you can to avoid another UNLIKELY ADVENTURE!
But an EVIL witch, wise in the ways of black magic, has a score to settle with Mabel and it must be done in the Forbidden City. To lure our brave heroine, the Witch Queen takes Mabel’s baby sister HOSTAGE!
Joining a brand-new cast of characters—and a few familiar faces from her last adventure—Mabel races an arrogant fox, slays a ferocious jungle millipede, and battles the diabolical witch. But is she prepared to make the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE to save her sister?
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