Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fire Sermon Event with Francesca Haig

Last Saturday (24th January) I was lucky to be invited to a blogger event for The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig at the new headquarters of HarperCollins, which is next door neighbours with the Shard.
I set out at 6.15am from my house to get to town to catch the train to Euston, and met up with a few bloggers there, and together we made our way to HarperCollins. When we arrived we were all shown upstairs where the event was being held and saw some amazing views out of the windows, some very tasty cupcakes, and an amazing book wall.

Once we were all settled we had a brief introduction and watched a quick documentary about HarperCollins and their anniversary. Once that was over we were introduced to Francesca who had two short excerpts for us, and a few little facts.

The Fire Sermon Facts
  • Sold in 26 territories across globe
  • DreamWorks are currently writing scripts for the movie adaptation

First excerpt was the introduction to the book which sets the scene for the whole story and the world Francesca has created. We then went into a brief Q&A where I tried to get all the questions and as much info for the answers as possible.

Ideas behind writing book?
Didn't want 'good twin bad twin' situation but something less soap like, especially with amnesiac. So ended up with the Alpha & Omega idea

Name of town?
Name of town is a shout to to John Wyndham, author of The Chrysalids. There is also a river that is another shout out to an author who also inspired her.

How many books in the series?
Trilogy was always the plan. Always had a clear idea of that and can't see it more then three but she is in process of writing book two, out early next year, so can't really see past that yet.

Did you base Cass on anyone?
Had a tutor said you can do anything in fantasy, flying horses and spaceships, but people have to feel like people. Cass is not based on anyone but Francesca had a mortifying moment when brothers aid Cass's name is one letter away from her own nickname. However Cass is based on Cassandra, a prophet in classical mythology and was ignored.
Francesca didn't mean to base Cass on herself and doesn't think she did. She wants Cass to be a clean cut heroine, human, rich, but also wanted her to be vulnerable and complex. The thing that matters about her is the way she sees the world.

Will you continue writing fiction/fantasy or depressing poems?
Love writing poems, will always keep writing it's her passion but can't really make a career out of it, She is lucky enough to write for her career. She would like to keep teaching but at moment busy writing books 2 and 3. Wants to keep writing, has few books up her sleeve that aren't fantasy or sci fi, literary.

Grew up in house with parents dorky and bookish, and had good feedback from teachers. Has days when she feels likes her writing is rubbish and that they (HarperCollins) made a mistake in signing her. She is lucky to have encouragement and support, and that any writer who isn't a pain in the butt will have days where they don't feel good enough.
She has been working on The Fire Sermon for about 2 years before she thought there was something worth pursuing more seriously and not just an embarrassing side project.

Keep writing you are your most important critic.

Agent is a rockstar, she couldn't be here today and wished Francesca good luck.
Most important thing is finish your book and as polished as you can get it. Follow instruction guidelines on agent websites. Doing this you are going to be ahead of game already.
Francesca applied to plenty of agencies before Juliet and had been rejected 'dystopian broken' 'too late'.
  • Don't be insane
  • Polish your book
  • Follow guidelines

How do you deal with rejection?
Reassure yourself, think of totally awesome people who were rejected. Accept that it is subjective and not about the book. Sometimes decisions are based on making money and not what's in your book. Subjective industry and factors beyond your control. Take it on the chin and soldier on.

Opinion on Nanowrimo?
Nanowrimo encourages people to write great but remember that while nanowrimo is a fantastic start point it's only the first step in the process, go for it but recognise that what you are left with is draft.

The Fire  Sermon is optioned to be film, how much control do you have over it?
Not very much, if she was super famous she would cast husband and have him naked throughout. :)
Thrilled that it has been picked, DreamWorks are nice to her and stay in touch about progress. Excited about seeing what they do if it gets made, but also has to be very zen that it's not going to be her book exactly, that it will be changed.

Take a look at the video below on how they made the book cover

Fellow Bloggers Event Write Ups
The Pewter Wolf

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