Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?
With her friends – Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox – Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart…
Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.
Publication Date: 1st September 2016
So here I am, part of the YA Shot 2016 blog tour/vlog tour for the SECOND TIME this year! This time hosting the marvellous Peter Bunzl on my little website where we will be talking about all things COGHEART.
1) Hello hello, lovely Peter! So, as this will be your first time on georgelesterwrites.com I feel we should start with an introduction. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi George – glad to be here on your fab blog!! I’m Peter Bunzl – a writer and filmmaker. My debut children’s novel COGHEART is out now with Usborne. It’s a fantastical Middle Grade adventure story set in Victorian England; featuring two friends, murder and mayhem, airships and automata, and an over-opinionated mechanical fox. Here’s a quick blurb…
When thirteen-year-old Lily’s inventor father vanishes on a routine Zeppelin flight, Lily’s determined to find out the truth behind his disappearance. But she’s not the only one searching; there are silver-eyed men in the shadows who will stop at nothing to find him. With Robert, the local clockmaker’s son, Lily travels to London, where they soon discover that she holds the key to the mystery… A mystery closer to Lily’s heart than she could have ever imagined.
2) So, I know everyone’s path is different, but tell me a bit more about your road to publication?
When I was young I wanted to be a cartoonist and work for Disney. I went to art college and film school, then worked in commercial animation, but in my spare time I loved writing stories. Some of those stories became short films, others didn’t, but I adored the process of creating my own worlds and characters.
Then one day I decided to attempt something more ambitious – a feature script – but the more I wrote the more I realized I was writing a YA novel. I never finished that project because I got sidetracked by a different idea, which never made it either! Finally, I had a third idea; for a steampunk-y adventure story set in a world filled with mechanical people and animals. That story became COGHEART, and when I’d written a couple of drafts I sent it out. It got a few rejections before I finally found my agent – Jo Williamson – and then a publisher in Usborne.
3) Where was it that the idea for COGHEART came from? How quickly did it go from conception to fully formed book?
COGHEART was inspired by reading various histories of automatons – which were clockwork robots that existed in the 18th and 19th century. The clockmaker who created those automatons tried to make them as life-like as possible, with the technology they had. That intrigued me because it brings up questions about what makes us human, and whether a machine could ever have those qualities.
But to get from that germ of an idea to an actual story took quite a while; a couple of years, in fact. And I think I would still be fiddling about with the detail now, if my writers group hadn’t told me to just finish it, and send it off!
4) How did it feel to be the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month?
To be chosen as Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month was absolutely fantastic, a dream start for COGHEART. The booksellers were so enthusiastic and got behind the book; creating amazing windows and point of sale displays, plus hand-selling to people. I went round quite a few of the shops, and it was lovely to meet the sellers in person and witness their enthusiasm. They’re the ones who make your book a hit. As a writer you spend a long time working towards publication, and you want your book launch and the publicity around it to go off with a big BANG! Getting Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month really does help that happen.
5) You’ve finished COGHEART, it is out in the world and getting some absolutely stonking reviews (kudos and congratulations of course!) but now we have to start thinking SEQUEL! Did you always know you were going to be writing a second book in the COGHEART sequence? I suppose what I’m asking is, what is your writing process?
Thank you!! I didn’t always know I was going to write a sequel to COGHEART. It felt a bit much to think about that when I was trying to get the first story done and out there. But I did cut quite a lot of material while editing – even before the book was acquired – so that, by the time we went to talk to Usborne, I knew there was a strong possibility there’d be enough material for a second book, and possibly a third…
As to my writing process; I write quite a detailed synopsis 5-10 pages – to make sure I’ve worked out the whole idea; what the big beats are, and the ending. Then I do a bit of research, and then I just start writing. I try to write in sequence, if possible, because you get a feel for how the whole story is flowing, but if that’s not working then I jump about between scenes. Or if I get stuck, I’ll stop and research the thing that’s holding me up. Then I just try to keep going and get to the end, no matter what!
6) How has it differed writing book 2 to writing COGHEART? What have been the biggest challenges (so far)?
The biggest challenge has been trying to get my head around writing a new book while doing promotion for the first one. It’s also very strange when you read reviews of your book, which try to second-guess what will be in the sequel, and it’s a million miles away from what you’ve written! All I can say is I’m just glad my editor made me write the first draft of the new book before COGHEART came out.
7) And to close, for any budding writers out there, what advice would you give them?
Write a little bit of what you love every day. Try to finish what you write and make it as good as you can with the skills you currently have. Then, if you want to see your story in print, send it out. If you get good feedback, or pertinent advice, add that to the book, but mainly just keep sending, no matter what… and in the mean time, write something new.
Thank you so much Peter for chatting with me on my blog for the YA Shot Blog Tour, and thank you so much to the YA shot media team for letting me be a part of the blog tour this year. You can follow him on twitter HERE and purchase his book from all bookstores and online. You can find out more about YA Shot by clicking HERE and don’t forget to check their twitter for all of the information about other blog tour stops for YA shot 2016.