Saturday, 25 February 2017

One Weird Week

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.

One Weird Week (Post 56) 

One Weird Week (1993) is one of the Bandinangi Books series, following Three Missing Days aka Ex-Spelled, which was Post 13. Five Easy Lessons (Post 48) and Three Loony Months. 

When I first wrote this story, it was called The Hauntograph and was about Jeremy Archer, brother of Justin from Five Easy Lessons. I quite enjoy writing stories from a different point of view, so I thought it would be interesting to see what Jeremy, whom Justin calls "the Pest", was like from his own perspective. The story really began when I was doing school talks in the early 1990s. I very much enjoy doing school talks and workshops, but I did have a problem with autograph hunters. I don't mind signing my books for children, teachers or parents, and I will happily write in autograph books, though I always warn people my handwriting is poor and I can't draw, but what often happens is one child brings a book to be signed and before you know it just about every child in the class appears armed with torn off pages, scraps of paper and blunt pencils. One day, in mild exasperation, I asked the profferer of a particularly tiny scrap of paper what s/he was planning to do with the autograph. The child unblinkingly assured me s/he would stick it in an autograph book immediately after school. 'You'd better,' I responded, 'or I may haunt you.' 

It was just a throw-away remark, but the idea took root in my brain (if not in the child's) and the word hauntograph popped into my mind. What, I wondered, would happen if a child really was haunted by an autograph? Therefore, I inflicted a relief teacher named Mrs Heironymous on Jeremy Archer's Grade Four class, and had her introduce her brother, Inigo Heironymous, as the visiting author. Jeremy asked for an autograph, promised glibly to stick it in his book when he got home, neglected to do so and duly ended up haunted be the autograph. It popped up in his alphabet soup and soap on a rope, among other places.

My editor liked the story but thought it too short, so I added another related plot strand, in which Justin's Grade 7 class was joined by a strange girl named Serendipity Creed, who gave Justin something that might or might not be a wishing ring. While her brothers were dodging about trying to avoid the effects of these peculiar items Rachel Archer was increasingly sure something was going on...

Altogether, it was one weird week, and the extra plot line satisfied the editor. What with the old theatre, a torn poster, a cross country run, pen top fangs, a camel costume and a witch stencil, I had a lovely time writing this one.  The camel costume garnered a late-night telephone call from the cover artist who rang me to enquire about what the wearer would have on his feet. The day after that an editor rang me up to see if this matter had been settled and to explain the call should have been made before eleven at night. I never quite got to the bottom of that, but who cares? One Weird Week is out of print, but second hand copies still pop up.  Incidentally, Serendipity Creed, creepy Uncle Inigo Heironymous and his sister Imelda are at least partially explained in the spin-off story called Serendipity.  

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. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

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