On Tuesday, Erskine Writers was privileged to welcome the famous children's 'teen' writer, Cathy MacPhail. Although Cathy started writing short stories for women's magazines, she has become well known as a writer for the teen market, that discerning group of children soon to be adults who want to be enthralled, excited, and challenged by books which encourage them to read. And to want more books of the same type.
Cathy reminded the group that the 'elements' remain the same whether we write about crime, romance or for children. She uses every situation, every sighting, and every encounter for inspiration in her future books. Graffiti, overheard comments on mobile phones or from conversations between people - she locks them all away for future use. Her imagination seems endless. Many of those present wished they could rustle up full blown ideas for stories from what seem to be ordinary events.
Cathy recommends we make every character count, that we should continually ask ourselves "What if...", that we note any event we see, whether it be a cow on the motorway (an event which recently took place near us), or a group of girls going through the school gates. Lots of collected ideas can often be cemented into different new stories.
Other tips she gave was to tell the apparent story but let the real story bleed through, let the characters grow, and if possible have more than one twist in the tale. And we loved the comment that it is essential to grab the reader’s attention, even by the scruff of the neck!
Cathy’s book, Another Me, will be released as a film later this year under the title of Panda Eyes. Some well known actors and actresses will be easily identifiable in the cast.
With her visits to schools (at least two this week), her attendance at writing groups, and of course her published books, now totalling 38 with another out in May, we are honoured that Cathy could come to Erskine Writers and share her experience and success with us.
Cathy MacPhail is a truly inspirational writer and speaker. She is a natural. We all benefited from her visit.