Maudie Smith began her career as an actor. She spent years perching on scenery in the back of a van, while touring with a small-scale theatre company. In children’s theatre, she played well-known characters such as Piglet and the Snow Queen. She co-devised many of the plays in which she performed and has written lyrics for musicals, cabaret and a libretto. She recently graduated from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing for Young People. Maudie lives in a village near Bath with her screenwriter husband, two daughters, two cats, two chickens and far too many stick insects.
The second book in the Opal Moonbaby series, About Zooming Time, Opal Moonbaby! has just been released and I am delighted to welcome Maudie to Library Mice as part of her blog tour.
Second book nerve and magic knickers
When I first showed Opal Moonbaby to publishers, it was pretty much finished, or as finished as I could make it by myself. But I knew I wanted to write more about Opal and her human friend, Martha, so when I presented my first manuscript, I added a couple of hastily compiled outlines for future books.
I was googling myself recently (sad) and discovered something on the Internet entitled, Opal in Archwell, which had been translated into Chinese. Of course, I had to have a look (even sadder). Then I found a button to press that translated the Chinese back into English. I pressed it (sadder still). Although I didn’t immediately recognise the substance of the document that came up, it definitely rang a distant bell.
Suffice to say it was my long-forgotten suggested breakdown of events for the book which has now become About Zooming Time, Opal Moonbaby! The setting remains the same – I knew I wanted Opal to take up residence in Archwell during her second visit to Earth and I knew I wanted to take her into school, but the events outlined bear little or no resemblance to the story I eventually wrote, and that is no fault of the Chinese.
I knew at the outset that the story wouldn’t resemble the outline very closely but I also knew, or hoped I knew, that there was a story there to be written. This is the leap of faith that writers have to take whenever they start a new book but it can be particularly hard when you’re starting on your second one. We hear a lot about second book nerves and not surprisingly. First books rarely have deadlines attached; they can take years to produce and no one is waiting for them expectantly. Once they are accepted, though, there’s the second book to think about straight away and delivery dates, perhaps a year away, perhaps less, start to rear their ugly heads. With the added need to promote their first books, the pressure on authors can start to tell.
I was lucky because when I embarked on my second book I was still immersed in doing an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I had an experienced manuscript tutor (author, Nicola Davies), as well as a wise and interested group of fellow students. This helped me control what I was writing, and then firm it up. Hey, it was like writing whilst wearing support knickers. (Or at least, so I imagine!)
Now that I’ve graduated from the MA and I’m out in the world it’s my third book nerve I’ve got to keep. The outline I submitted to Orion for the third Opal Moonbaby story is headed, Opal goes camping. I think we can be pretty sure that won’t be the title, although it’s true there may be a tent or two involved. Whatever happens, with the help of my lovely editor, Jenny Glencross, and precisely no pairs of magic knickers, I think I’ll be able to get there.
About Zooming Time, Opal Moonbaby! is published by Orion Children’s Books and is out now.