Keswick School English teacher and Librarian Helen Robinson will see her first book for children published this month.
Helen runs the school’s reading club and also set up a club for writers and illustrators to provide an opportunity for students to write for pleasure and develop their creative writing. The writing club’s most successful project to date is a team written novel, The Reader, a dark historical fantasy novel.
The idea for the story came from a Reader’s Digest 100 word story competition where Helen wrote about a book with consciousness. This became the prologue for the novel.
17 writers worked through 18 months of planning, writing and editing the full story which was then self-published in 2014 (details available on www.keswickschoollibrary.weebly.com).
The club has recently secured sponsorship from a new independent publisher in Cockermouth – Elterwater Press – whose aim is to produce and promote the work of local authors in Cumbria, the Borders and the Northwest of England. Through this sponsorship, The Reader has now been professionally edited and illustrated and will soon be re-published through Elterwater Press. The club are currently working on another team novel, this time based around farming in Cumbria.
Elterwater Press have also taken on Helen and her book ‘Little Pearl’ as their first author. Helen wrote the book, which is based on her own first pony, back in 2005. Picking it back up, thirteen years later, rewriting parts to bring it up-to-date and going through several rounds of editing, has produced a new version of the story which is being published under Helen’s maiden name of Helen Haraldsen.
Helen said, of the editing process; “I wasn’t actually looking forward to the editing stage. I imagined my book being torn apart and criticised by someone who didn’t understand what I was trying to achieve with it, besides tell a story. I was worried someone would want to change the essence of it to make it more commercial or something. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the process was more of a to and fro conversation of suggestions. Some were a definite yes straight away, some were no, and some needed thinking about. Some suggestions were rejected but led to a completely new idea that went on to improve the story. My editor understood the tone of the book and the themes I was hoping to put across and helped me to strengthen this rather than diluting it, as I feared.”
The book, which is the first of a series (Amber’s Pony Tales), is available now in Kindle form and will be out in paperback from 25th March. Stores stocking the book will be: Hills in Workington, Bookends in Keswick and Carlisle and Turnout Equestrian Supplies in Maryport.
Turnout are currently taking pre-orders and Helen will be at their open evening on 28th March where books can be bought and signed. Prior to this, Helen will have a stall at Rheged from around 6.30pm on Wednesday 20th March as part of Frame, Swift and Partners equestrian veterinary information evening.
For more information, visit www.helenharaldsen.co.uk