Guest Blog by Derek Keilty
Shiver me timbers but Flyntlock Bones has been a barrel o’ fun to write. And to think it all started life as a doodle. While writing a different story, I scribbled a picture of a skull and crossbones in my story notebook then I drew a magnifying glass over one of the eye sockets, extending the handle so it looked like one of the crossbones. Underneath I wrote Pirate Investigators. Then I started jotting down names from the Conan Doyle books, and changing them into pirates, so: Sherlock Holmes became Flyntlock Bones, Watson became Captain Watkins and the baddy of course had to be Morihearty- me hearties! Needless to say, that by now I had abandoned the other story idea to work on my pirate book. But I still had a problem. I wanted my pirates to be different. Let’s face it there are tons of pirate books out there. I thought well OK then, they’re NOT pirates, or rather they used to be but a pitilessly empty booty chest and a chance meeting in a tavern with a rich countess changes the course of their careers forever. So now instead of stealing booty they help find stolen treasure for other people using their detective skills.
Are you working full-time at something else but would love to write a children’s book? Then why not try it, just like Captain Watkins and the crew from Flyntlock Bones. The captain is not a young man when he tries his hand at investigating so the moral is, you’re never too old to try something new- just go for it!
I always start with a one- or two-page synopsis when I’m writing a new book which I know will change as I write but at least it gives me a framework to work off. In the early days when I first started out writing I would just launch into the story then quite often run out of steam halfway and end up abandoning the idea. I always do work developing the characters, too. I write little page or half page summaries of who they are: name, age, job, likes and dislikes then stuff like what do they want, and who stops them getting it. Flynn, the cabin boy and Red the ship’s rigger are the main characters in my new book. In Red I knew I definitely wanted a positive girl character as I didn’t want it to be labelled ‘boy’s book’. She befriends Flynn when he first boards the ship and she is capable, respected and kind.
Setting is so important, and I love world building. Both my last 2 series have had wonderful maps at the beginning of their fantasy settings. This is a great way to let your imagination run wild. Sounds obvious but if you’re enjoying time in your setting and with your characters as you write then there is a high chance your readers will too. Lastly, a tip for working out a plot is to base it around a big problem your main character is having that they must overcome. And if you’re going to send to publishers then it’s a good idea to check on how this done maybe by reading some online submission blogs or investing in a copy of the Writers and Artists yearbook which I’m sure has been around since the earliest pirates, arrrrr!
To watch me read chapter one of Flyntlock Bones on YouTube click the link below
FLYNTLOCK BONES: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs by Derek Keilty, illustrated by Mark Elvins is out now in paperback (£6.99, Scallywag Press)