All books are special but some are more special than others.
My very first book (My So-Called Afterlife, published in 2010) was like that – I loved Lucy Shaw like she was my own daughter and cried for her as I wrote. That book came about after a spate of knife crime against London’s teenagers, which gave me the idea for a girl who had died in the public toilets on Carnaby Street. It’s a story about loss and grief and learning to live again when things change in ways you couldn’t begin to imagine – it is what I call a book of my heart, because I had to dig deep to write it. It wasn’t a hard book, though; it only took me six weeks to write my first draft.
In 2012, I had an idea for another teen story – not a ghost story but still exploring death and our attitudes to it. I realised early on that it would be another book of my heart. What I didn’t know was that it would take me TWO YEARS to complete the first draft. And I cried a lot as I wrote. I went away and came back, wrote other books that didn’t make me cry, struggled to find the right words and wanted to give up often, but my characters wouldn’t let me. That book will be published by Usborne this November – a mere four years after I started to write it – and I am delighted to reveal the title: Instructions for a Second-hand Heart.
Here’s what it’s about:
Imagine you were dying. Every day, a bit more time slips away…and then a miracle happens and everything changes. Suddenly, you have to learn how to live.
That’s exactly what happens when Jonny gets a new heart. But having a future takes a bit of getting used – does a second-hand heart change who he is? And what happens when he meets the sister of the boy who saved his life?
I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how proud I am of this book. It is my very best writing. I really hope you’re all going to love it.