new books / random / writing

How to get a writer confused… (Duh!)

OK, so if someone was to say to you, “Make a cheese toastie”, you’d say okay, easy-peasy, right?

cheese toastie

Well, what if they were to say, “Yeah, but there’s a catch; you have to make it WITHOUT using cheese or bread…”

empty plate

That’s a head-melter, isn’t it? But it’s kind of what happened when I was approached by educational publishers Collins Big Cat a while ago, and asked to re-tell an old Scottish folk tale called ‘The Black Bull’, which is all about magic and witches. Only I wasn’t allowed to specifically mention, er, magic and witches… (I KNOW!!)


The reason, they explained, is that their books are published in loads of countries throughout the world, and in some cultures, magic and witches are a no-no. OK, so I understood, but still felt a bit stumped about how exactly I could possibly write this story. And then slowly I started to get quite excited, as if I was about to solve a puzzle. After all, whenever authors write, they’re constantly puzzling over how to get their characters in to and out of situations, or how to keep the pace going and scenes fresh to keep readers happy.

So ‘The Black Bull’ didn’t defeat me… and I had a lot of fun writing it, despite the head-melt!

Black bulls

I also loved reading Emma Carroll’s post here on Thursday, and saw that she had a similar dilemma, rewriting ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the same publisher, who asked her to make the monstrous character of Heathcliff a bit, well, nicer. *oof!*


Anyway, any budding readers here could perhaps set themselves a challenge… maybe pick a favourite book, and then write a piece of fan fiction but placed in a completely different setting? Or give a certain character a personality transplant?

Or hey, if you get stuck, you could always chuck a bull in it…

Till next time,

Karen McCombie



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s