Monday, 27 February 2017


Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

Hero (Post 58)

Hero (1998) was a challenge to write. The brief, as well as I remember, nineteen years later, was deceptively simple; write a science fiction chapter book for newly independent readers. What could be difficult about that? 

The thing is, pure science fiction and fantasy are rare genres at this level. That's to do with the word count. A family story or an animal story or even a school story is much easier, because not everything has to be described and explained. Most six-and-seven-year-olds have experience of friendship, family, pets and school, and most understand setting such as city, country, town, beach and mountains or forest. If you mention these words they can call up visual images from experience. If you set a story in a time or place far in the past or future, or in another world, realm or reality, there are fewer terms of reference. 

For Hero, I wanted my main character to be a bonafide  adventure hero; someone who didn't depend on adults to sort things out. Therefore, I sent him fishing in the creek. Something stole his fishhooks, and then the metal eyelets on his shoes and then his lucky buckle. Out hero, not wanting to lose that lucky buckle, took to the creek to get it back and ended up on a purple planet where metal was rare. He is a hero, unravelling clues, observing, making a sacrifice for someone else... and then he comes home again, secure in the knowledge that what he did made a difference out there.

Hero is short, simple and fast-moving. I'm not a fisherman myself, but my son used to fish in the river and creek when he was a child, and I happened to know a bit about bees (a friend's father kept hives) and something about the behaviour of rivers.  

Hero (which shares an illustrator with the picture book I'm Big Enough (Post 43) is out of print, but second hand copies turn up on eBay.

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 

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