I suppose I should mention what I've been working on recently.
A number of you have been asking, and I did make that incredibly tantalising reference in my last post to some snail mail I was expecting, which I know has been keeping you awake at night ever since.
Well, the eagerly-awaited thingy that finally plopped onto my doormat was a long, long letter from my publisher that I'm told is called a "contract" – I have to be told this because I don't understand the language, you see; it's written in something called "Legalese", which is what lawyers speak.
Fortunately they sometimes speak English too, which is just as well as a) they can interpret the Legalese for you; and b) I can converse with my husband, who is a lawyer.
The other problem is that the contract is full of numbers, and I'm scared of numbers, so I can't look at it at all; I have to get my agent, who actually LIKES numbers, to do that for me. (She can also speak Legalese, so is officially a Very Clever Person).
Anyway, I've signed it now, which means I have agreed to write six books for them about that girl at the top of this post, whose name is Kitty Slade. You read it here first! It's a rough sketch I did of her, because this is what I always do when I am getting to know my characters.
Like all my hero(ine)s so far, Kitty has something massive and very, very strange happen to her around about the age of thirteen. Why does this keep happening to my characters? Because we ALL have something massive and very, very strange happen to us around about the age of thirteen. Think about it!
In Kitty's case, she develops something I call phantorama, which means she can see ghosts.
In fact, if I had to pitch the idea in one sentence, I might call it "Ghost Whisperer for kids" – but I might equally call it "Famous Five for the 21st Century", because the other thing about these stories is that they are all about kids solving mysteries.
Erm, except unlike in The Famous Five stories, there's no dog. In fact, there aren't even five of them, there are only three: Kitty, her twin brother Sam, and their younger sister Flossie. Though other kids sometimes get involved; their dogs probably will, too. But Kitty's the only one with the phantorama, and this is crucial because in every story, there is a part of the mystery that needs unlocking via contact with a ghost.
The mystery-solving part was actually my starting point. When you reach the stage, as I have done, of having written several books, a pattern emerges: you notice the things they have in common. And I've discovered there is always a mystery element in my tales. I didn't plan it that way; it just sort of happened. So I thought, 'well, maybe I should just go with that,' and actually call them mystery stories: the series title, therefore, is likely to be (though not definitely) The Kitty Slade Mysteries. I love stories that are spooky and funny at the same time: that's what I'm hoping to achieve here!
Oh, and the Slade kids don't go to school: they travel around in a camper van with Maro, their grandmother, who home-schools them. This is because I wanted to get around the whole Famous Five problem of, 'hey everybody, it's the school hols again!' So in case you were wondering why they don't have a dog...well, think gang + camper van + ghosts + dog and you get this:
The first two Kitty Slade books come out in spring 2011. Yes, I know: not next year. I'm sorry! But I promise they'll be worth waiting for. And there will be SIX of them (and possibly another six too, if you like the first lot!) Meanwhile, you can always re-read my other books, or even ones by other people (this is something else I need to blog about soon: my 'if-you-enjoyed-this-then-why-not-try-that' list. Because I can't write books fast enough for some of you, and I often get asked for recommendations. Will do this soon!)
Another thing you can do is watch Jinx, the brand new CBBC show based on my Lulu Baker books.
And I can now reveal that the very first episode is to be aired at 10.30am on HALLOWEEN, i.e. Saturday 31st October. Then it will be on every Saturday and Sunday morning at that time. You can guess from the scheduling that younger kids will like it too, so watch it with your little brothers and sisters. It's for 6-12-year-olds, but will appeal to the whole family.
I hope you enjoy it: do please write and tell me what you think! I'm especially interested in your thoughts on how it compares to the books, as this will at some point be the subject of another blog post. I'll want to know what you think of the new characters, how you think Lulu, Varaminta etc are portrayed, and what works best for you. And of course the stories! I'll want your thoughts on the role the recipe book plays in the TV show and in the books, your likes and dislikes.