Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Good News Post

Last month, Infinite Sky was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, alongside some of the biggest names in YA, including David Almond, Anne Fine and Malorie Blackman, and some of my favourites, Phil Earle and Annabel Pitcher, as well as writing friends Holly Smale, Emma Pass, Emily Murdoch and Steph Kuehn. (Terry Pratchett's on there too)

Here's the logo to add some verve to this post.


It has also been shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards in the 14-16 category, alongside Lucy Christopher's The Killing Woods, Nick Lake's Hostage Three, Sarah Mussi's Siege, Annabel Pitcher's Ketchup Clouds and Alison Rattle's The Quietness.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, or at the very least don't curse it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Arvon Foundation comes to Derby

At the end of November, I am going to be co-tutoring a creative writing course with Ross Raisin for the Arvon Foundation. In case you don't know Arvon, it's a charity that runs residential creative writing courses in beautiful, historic writing houses across the UK. The courses are a week long, and tutored by two writers, with another visiting mid-week.



The thing that makes Arvon so special (apart from the beautiful countryside settings in which to write, and the fact that each house has its own literary history) is that the tutors and the writers live alongside each other during the course. After a day of workshops and tutorials, everyone sits down together for dinner, and so you can chat to your writing heroes in an informal setting, as well as learning from them during workshops.

The thing that makes Arvon so special to me is that it's really had a hand in improving my fortunes as a writer. I won a free course when I couldn't afford it at all (they are pretty expensive for those earning minimum wage, though bursaries are available). In 2009 the foundation gave away 41 free courses to celebrate 41 years of Arvon, and I got to go on a Creative non-fiction course led by Terence Blacker and Andy Martin at Totleigh Barton in Devon.

Totleigh Barton


My luck continued as arriving at my cute little room in the pre-Domesday thatched manor house in Sheepwash, I found a piece of paper in my desk drawer offering the chance to win a place on the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme. This meant a year of being mentored by a leading writer, as well as a tutored cross-disciplinary 'masterclass' and a writing retreat at an Arvon house.

I applied, and was selected to be one of three mentees under Bernardine Evaristo. During the year, as well as the two Arvon weeks, I got feedback on Infinite Sky, and writing tips that continue to improve my work from Bernardine, as well as the other tutors and mentees. At the end of the year there was a champagne cocktail reception at the Free Word Centre to showcase our work.

So I am very happy to have been invited to co-tutor one of their courses myself in my home town. Arvon have branched out into non-residential courses, and this one, all about novel-writing, will take place at The Quad in Derby.

The Quad

Here are the course details:

Have you always wanted to write a novel but feel daunted by the enormity of the task?  This three day workshop from renowned creative writing charity Arvon will allow you to immerse yourself in the art and craft of novel writing, and give you the confidence and knowledge to complete your first novel. You’ll experience a powerful mix of workshops, one-to-one tutorials with highly respected authors, the support of your fellow writers and plenty of time and space to write.

This course is part of a new programme of non-residential Arvon weekend city courses taking place in cities across England. The course starts at 11am on Friday until 9pm; Saturday 10am - 9pm and Sunday 10am - 6pm. Numbers are limited to 16. A limited number of grants are available for people on a low income.

Tutors 

Ross Raisin was born in Yorkshire, and is the author of numerous short stories and two novels, God’s Own Country and Waterline.  He has been the recipient of several literary prizes and was recently named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

Chelsey Flood grew up in Derbyshire and is the author of Infinite Sky. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she won the Curtis Brown Award. She currently lives in Bristol where she is completing her second novel
 

Course fee:  £270 (lunch and dinner included)
£60 deposit will reserve a place. Full balance payable by six weeks before course starts

Grants:
 Two grants of £135 ( half the course fee) are available. Please contact  suzie.jones@arvon.org for information on how to apply.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Worldbuilding in Infinite Sky

Worldbuilding is usually talked about in terms of science or speculative fiction, but I think it’s just as important a component in a contemporary realistic story.

My first novel, Infinite Sky, is a realistic contemporary story about thirteen-year-old Iris Dancy, who lives with her dad and her older brother in a ramshackle old farmhouse, Silverweed Farm. Her mum has left the family to go on a soul-searching expedition around North Africa, and the family, and Silverweed, have since fallen into a slightly chaotic state. Cue a family of Irish Travellers setting up camp in the Dancy’s disused paddock, and an adventure beginning that will change Iris’s and her family’s lives forever.

Infinite Sky_300


Whatever the genre, world building is key, and if your story is going to live on in people’s heads, you have to get the details of your imaginary world right. For Infinite Sky, we decided to make it timeless, and so all references to popular culture, party politics, world events and technology were removed.

There are a few different settings in the novel: the various rooms of Silverweed Farm itself, which is rickety and patched together and not entirely clean; the corn den, where Iris meets and falls in love with Trick, the young Traveller boy; the paddock, where Trick and his family live in caravans; and Iris’s best friend Matty’s tiny but pristine house. The whole story unfolds in a small village on the outskirts of the Peak District in Derbyshire (near where I grew up), an area famous for its rugged beauty and hills.

I used my dad’s house, and the land around it as the template for the sets in Infinite Sky, and so worldbuilding for me was easy in some ways. Still, I used this template of my childhood home to create a version of these places that doesn’t exist. I allowed my childhood perception of my dad’s house to mix with with imagined details to achieve an effect, to create a place all its own.

brook farm
My dad's house

Most of the settings in the book were written from memory. I trawled through childhood adventures in the fields surrounding the house, and run ins with the local tough guys, and my relationships with my parents and brother and friends, and I got a first draft of the novel. Then, due to changed circumstances, I moved back to my dad’s house for a period. This was purely coincidental, but it was invaluable for the book. For weeks, I wandered the fields, and played with the dog, and remembered how it felt to run wild in this beloved place. I added in details and feelings and senses to the manuscript. I considered scenes from Iris’s perspective in the places that inspired them, and improved the sentences in the book.

Finishing the book in the place that inspired it was a very special thing, and I don’t expect to have the experience again. In the finished draft, I have shrunk my home town to a village, moved it closer to the countryside, and demolished the extra houses that have sprung up in recent years. I have rearranged the landscape, changed crops (corn never grew in the fields by us, alas), and inserted boats, swans and azure damselfies. And with all of these small decisions about what to include or omit or exaggerate, I built Iris’s and Trick’s world.

Do you agree that worldbuilding is as important an element in realistic fiction as science fiction? Or do you think I’m talking nonsense? What other contemporary novels have excellent worldbuilding in them? I would love to hear from you.



C. J. Flood is a novelist who lives in Bristol, where she is finishing up her second novel, The Drowning Machine, which is out next year. Her debut novel, Infinite Sky, is out now in paperback and hardback. Buy it! Or just say hello at her blog, add the book on Goodreads or talk to her on Twitter.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Running my first creative writing course for adults...

On October 5th I'm going to be running my first creative writing course for adults in Derby. The idea is that using freewriting exercises, I'll help adults uncover their inner teen, so that they can begin/develop their writing for young adults, or creating of convincing teen characters. I've learnt so many things over the years, and am really keen to share some of them.

Putting together the workshop has made me think about what it is that makes me want to write fiction about young adults myself. Because while I didn't always intend to write fiction for young adults, I quickly knew I wanted to write with a teen protagonist -  a thirteen year old female protagonist, to be precise.

I always say this is because it's such an interesting point in a life. Thirteen was the cusp of adulthood for me. It's when you have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, and the foot that's in adulthood is being pulled quite hard, and without your permission, and the foot in childhood has suddenly started to look a bit embarrassing, like maybe you should just cut it off. Inner conflict, so essential in fiction, is rife.

But really considering it, I'm not sure it's the real reason I like to write about teens. The real reason, I think, is because of the diminished responsibility of that period. The boring administrative realities and responsibilities of adulthood are unknown. For me as a teen, most boredom came from having too little to do, or not being allowed to do what I wanted, rather than from having to repeatedly do things that I didn't want to (though this happened too). I wasn't expected to run my life like a small business. I didn't even have my own passport. I had never bought toilet roll!

Plus, there was a fun side-product of not being allowed to do the things you wanted to do: rebellion. Such a simple way to have fun. Just find ways to do the things you're not allowed to. Rebelling as an adult is something different altogether. It might feature adultery or crime or weird leather clothing, and the consequences will generally be sadder and further reaching than your mum looking at you with a sad face, and telling you she's disappointed.

Anyway, if you're interested in learning more about writing for/about teens, then please sign up for my course, here:

Course details:


This workshop is all about discovering and channeling our inner teen in order to create authentic stories that will appeal to a Young Adult audience. Let writing exercises that access imagination and memory unlock the wealth of creativity within you, and discussion about narrative, character and voice give you insight about how to progress your stories. Prepare to be surprised by what you uncover and create during this dynamic workshop.

C J Flood's first novel for Young Adults, 'Infinite Sky', came out this year. It sold at auction in the UK, Germany and the United States, and has received glowing reviews from the Guardian, Telegraph and Times. C J studied for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where she won the Curtis Brown Award for her writing. She was selected as a mentee on the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme, and received funding from the Arts Council to finish 'Infinite Sky'. She is currently working on her second novel.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Overlooked pieces of Bristol Graffiti

Bristol has some world class graffiti. It also has this stuff.

Don't Know What It's ALL About But It's Wond[e]rful! (Underpass near M32)
LOVE THOSE SPIDERS BABE (Weston, not Bristol.)
RICHMOND TURD (Richmond Rd.)
What do you think? Which is your favourite?

Let me know if you have seen anything that deserves a wider audience, and I will go photograph it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Infinite Sky has an American release date...

Infinite Sky has an American release date! May 2014. Hurray!



Photographs have been taken for the cover, which I will share details of soon, and yesterday I finished checking the copy edits of the book.

It was the first time I have read Infinite Sky since proofreading it last year, due to being scared of hating it or finding 0.2,000,000 mistakes, so I was delighted to discover that it's really not that bad! I even found myself drawing sad faces at the end of several chapters, and not many novels make me do that. It's funnier than I'd remembered too. Especially the Matty chapters. She is fast becoming my favourite character, and I would really like to write more in her voice - she is so camp and amusing.

The funny thing about re-reading your own novel after so long is, that although you get pulled into it in a way that wasn't possible when you were re-reading it every day, there is still a detached part of you that remembers things about the choices you made as you wrote. It remembers why you wrote certain sentences, and sees your inspirations as you read.

When Iris dreams of being safe and in the cool green shade by the brook, I think of reading Roddy Doyle. And when she talks about the blue and white sky I think of D H Lawrence. When her dad confronts her, after discovering she has been secretly spending time with Trick, the Traveller boy, I think of reading Antonia White. I owe bits to all of them.

When she runs through the cornfields, I remember what it felt like returning home after my MA to my beloved Brook Farm, where I hadn't lived for ten years, and running through the farmer's fields with the dog, and how the grass and nettles catch your legs, and flies catch the sunlight, and how you really don't need anything except a little sun and somewhere to sit. Or at least what it feels like to believe that for a few minutes.

Mannerisms that I've stolen from friends and relatives over the years jump out at me, and the names of places and people that I've reappropriated remind me of how much of myself I put into the novel - years of observations! - debut novels are such personal things.

I also found some mistakes. Iris gets the names of certain birds and trees and fish wrong. If you can spot any of them, I will send you a prize.

Also, I am going to be giving away a signed copy of the lovely paperback, so check back for details about that soon!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Upcoming events...

INFINITE SKY comes out in the UK in paperback in 16 days. Hurray, right? Right. Those of you who thought ten smackeroos was a bit steep for my delightful masterpiece will now be able to buy it for seven pounds. £6.99 to be exact.

It also comes out in Australia on the first of July.

Here's the cover, in case you have forgotten.

In case you've forgotten the title, it's Infinite Sky.

Also, here are some events that I will be taking part in. You should totally come and see me.

26th June - Ashbourne Library - Me, Emma Pass and Helen Mort talk with River Wooton about writing, and read from our books.7:15 start.

8 July - Cafe Writers, Norwich - I'm reading along with Anne-Marie Fife and Cahal Dallat. 7:30

9th July - FLY Festival, UEA, Norwich - creative writing workshop 13:00-14:00

9th July - FLY Festival, UEA, Norwich - reading, talk and signing 14:30-15:45

I also have some exciting news to announce soon, so, you know, check my blog every day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Winner of WONDER and INFINITE SKY competition...

A little longer than intended passed before this results post. I hope you have all been managing to sleep okay in the mean time.



SO. The prize of one signed copy of INFINITE SKY and one unsigned/fake-signed [your choice] copy of WONDER goes to...



Simon P. Clarke!

Thanks so much for entering the competition, and taking the time to answer the question, of which blue was better, the blue of the cover of WONDER or the blue of the cover of INFINITE SKY. As I said before, there is no wrong answer, but the right answer was, of course, INFINITE SKY.

[Incidentally, Simon got the answer wrong.]

Friday, May 3, 2013

INFINITE SKY paperback cover reveal!

Here it is, the paperback version of INFINITE SKY. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.





Do you like it more or less than the original hardback cover?


Monday, March 25, 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio and Infinite Sky Giveaway!

So, as I wrote when I was featured over at The Overflowing Library's Bookcase Showcase, I have toooo many books. And I can't stop buying them. It's one of my-least-necessary-to-keep-private problems.

Probably self-explanatory

In the spirit of sharing my love of good books, I've decided to give one of my favourite new books away - WONDER by R. J. Palacio - along with a copy of INFINITE SKY.



The books look vaguely similar, and I think they could probably be quite good friends, if they would only make the effort.


R. J. Palacio's WONDER

Both have themes of prejudice and judgement and loyalty, and both are written by authors with the middle initial 'J'.

Coincidence? Yes.
 
To enter the competition, and be in with a chance of winning one of these lovely blue books, answer this following question in the comments box below, and leave a way for me to get hold of you. The contest will run for a month.

Which shade of blue do you prefer?

a. The blue of WONDER by R. J. Palacio
b. The blue of INFINITE SKY by C. J. Flood

N.B. There's no wrong answer.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Infinite Sky is out in the world...

Apologies if you already know this, because it's all I've talked about for forever, but, yep, my first book is out, and available in all good book shops and all good online places too.



The day it launched, I was bed-ridden with a chest (and lung!) infection, but I had the loveliest time. My publisher and agent sent me enormous bunches of flowers, which I was too ill and short of vases to display properly.

Ill face, body and hair + party dress, champagne and flowers = really sexy actually.


My friends bought me champagne, which they passed through the door to me as though I had bubonic plague, and my best friend risked it all by coming round to make me the most nutritious dinner of my life. Later, we launched a heart-shaped paper lantern covered in our dearest wishes into the sky.

It plummeted after a few seconds.


Since then, I have been lucky enough to get reviews in all The Big Guys (Telegraph, Guardian, Times), and to cut a long story short, they basically said the book is pretty  s w e e t.

I also did a signing at Derby Waterstones, where we sold out of books in the first hour, and I wore really high shoes, and tried not to walk like a heron.

My nan and my best friend queuing up to meet me.

So, thanks so much to all of you who have bought my book, and sent nice messages saying that you enjoyed it, I never ever get tired of receiving them. Please don't forget to recommend it to others too, if you liked it, (and even if you didn't.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Infinite Sky countdown

Okay, I admit it, I'm A BIT EXCITED about my first ever book, Infinite Sky, coming out.

Petra, better-known as Safari Poet has made a countdown widget for lots of marvellous-looking books, including mine, and many of my Lucky 13 colleagues. Have a look at it on the right hand side of the blog. It's the coolest thing I've ever seen. In my whole life.


A couple of other nice things book-related have happened lately.

One is that children and adult author/Independent columnist Terence Blacker has given a lovely blurb for Infinite Sky:

"Infinite Sky is terrific - moving, original and heartfelt. I loved it. A compelling, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story."

Terence taught me creative non-fiction at an Arvon retreat at the ridiculously gorgeous Totleigh Barton in Devon a few years ago. He saw Infinite Sky in its earliest stages, and was very encouraging and supportive, though he did have to tell me off for my presentation skills (I handed in my work on a creased bit of ripped-out notebook paper for some reason.)

The other good thing is that I'm going to do my first ever radio interview. It's with Andy Potter at BBC Radio Derby, and will be on in the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to try really hard not to say anything stupid. My dad sorted it out for me, which if you know my dad, you'll know is quite extraordinary. I have started calling him PR guy. I suggest that you do too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My first handwritten letter from a reader...

Hey look!

I received my first ever handwritten letter from a reader. Her name is Ellie Ball, and she is nearly 16, and clearly very, very cool.

Here is what she wrote:








Monday, January 14, 2013

I love Simon and Schuster, and book news...

Sincere apologies for the gush-fest that is about to occur, but I've had the loveliest experience of publishing so far, and for this I wholeheartedly and unequivocally blame the team at Simon and Schuster.

From getting a cover that I loved, to seeing the book improve due to my talented editor, copy-editor and proofreader, to meeting the sales team, my experience has been so positive. Everybody has been enthusiastic and committed to getting the book into shape and getting it noticed, and I'm so grateful.

In case you have forgotten what it looks like.

And now, as if they were trying to make me actually weep, Catherine, the Children's Publicity and Marketing Manager, has sent out these gorgeous items to important industry folks.

Swoon.
  

I know I'm biased, but have you ever seen anything so gorgeous? I really really doubt it.

And other book-related stuff:

Infinite Sky was on Stylist Magazine's Cult Books of 2013 list, along with my lovely friend, Nathan Filer's The Shock of the Fall about who they said: "No less than eleven publishing houses entered a bidding war for Nathan Filer's groundbreaking novel, which draws on the author’s own background as a mental health nurse. Matthew and Simon are brothers who are separated, yet united by a tragic accident. Exploring themes of loss, grief and mental illness, the reader is said to be transported 'directly into the spinning vortex that is schizophrenia.'"

About my book, they said: "Loved by young adult journalists, C.J. Flood's debut novel is also a burgeoning hit among adult readers. It tells the story of Iris, who the reader encounters at the funeral of a boy she loves - but is she mourning her tearaway brother or her tentative boyfriend? We journey through a summer with her as she encounters betrayal, conflict and first love."

His sounds better, doesn't it? Damn him. I should never have included his quote on here.

Also, I wrote a blog post over at The Lucky 13s about how Infinite Sky got its cover if you are interested in the behind the scenes stuff. 

There's still a book giveaway at Good Reads.

And finally, I have really nearly finished book two, which is due for release in February 2014.

Upcoming events

February 7th, will be a launch for Infinite Sky, along with Tom Benn's Bane Book Two: Chamber Music and Andrew Cowan's Worthless Men. Starting at 8pm in the Drama Studio at UEA, there will be readings and then a winey signing afterwards. Come along! It'll be fun!

February 16th, I'm doing a signing at St Peter's Street Waterstones, Derby. From 2-4, I will be upstairs near the Young Adult section, so PLEASE come and talk to me. I will provide sweets, and am also going to do a free book raffle. So COME ALONG, for god's sake. Even if you can't afford the book/wouldn't buy it if you had one million euros, there will be other prizes too (probably a Toblerone). You can get a free ticket to be entered into it at any point, and then just pop by at four for the 'grand prize draw' (most likely me, looking embarrassed, shouting to a room containing my mum and dad and booksellers who can't quite meet my eye.