Friday 2 November 2012

Guest Post: Author Harriet Goodwin on her Writing Inspirations!

Today I'm welcoming Harriet Goodwin, author of The Hex Factor to the blog.  The Hex Factor is such a fun read and it's perfect for this time of year!  You can read my review: here.

Thanks for the great guest post, Harriet!

The Hex Factor by Harriet Goodwin
Publisher:  Stripes Publishing
Release date: August 1st 2012
Ages: 9+

Xanthe Fox can't wait to turn thirteen, but as the big day arrives her world starts to fall apart. Set-up at school for something she didn't do, it seems her age-old enemy, Kelly, is making trouble for her...and as things escalate, even her best friend Saul starts to doubt her innocence. With the school threatening to expel her, and mysterious glowing Xs appearing in front of her eyes, Xanthe turns to Grandma Alice for help. But what the old lady tells her will change Xanthe's life for ever...

Guest Post: Author Harriet Goodwin on her Writing Inspirations!

Whenever I go into a school to talk to students about my books, there is one question I am always asked: what inspires me?

Well, one thing I can definitely say: inspiration never comes when I am looking for it. It arrives when least expected, when I am in the bath or washing my hair or drifting off to sleep. These days ideas pop into my head all the time, hijacking my brain and forcing me to reach for the nearest pad and pencil...but it hasn’t always been this way. Up until a few years ago I had never written a thing.

It all started with a dream. One night, two weeks after the birth of my fourth child, I dreamt in vivid technicolour about a boy who joyrode his mother’s car over the Yorkshire moors, crashed it and fell down a deep tunnel, ringed with golden ladders and peppered with luminous green algae. The tunnel was called an Exit, a connecting place between the worlds of the living and the dead, and the boy in my dream landed in a strange Underworld, populated by a colourful collection of ghostly characters. Perhaps I had been eating smelly cheese the previous evening – certainly something had sparked my imagination! In the morning I remembered the dream and became convinced that I should turn it into a story. And that was how The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 was born. If I hadn’t had the dream I don’t think I would be a writer today. It quite simply unlocked a creativity in me that I didn’t know I possessed.

 My second book, Gravenhunger, was inspired by an archaeology paper I sat at university on the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge in Suffolk. I loved the idea of writing a children’s novel in which the uncovering of long-buried truths went hand-in-hand with the unearthing of long-buried treasure. If you go to Sutton Hoo today and stand on the famous burial mound, you will be guaranteed to soak up the atmosphere of the place in seconds. It is impossible not to feel inspired!

Then came my third novel, The Hex Factor. This book was sparked by something altogether different. My family and I are pretty stoneage and don’t have a TV, but a friend phoned me one day and told me to watch on youtube the moment that Susan Boyle “got her own back” at the judges on The X Factor. As she took to the stage, I thought to myself, “What if the contestants could stare those judges out and reverse all their bad expectations?”...and of course Susan Boyle opened her mouth and did exactly that! Two weeks later I was standing in the bathroom under a light bulb, waiting for my bath to run (I have since been told that it was a true “light bulb moment”) when I realised I had both a title and a concept for my third book: it would be called The Hex Factor, and would be about a schoolgirl called Xanthe Fox who discovers she has special powers: as a True Witch she is able to reverse the evil doings of Hexing Witches – and accept her thirteen-year-old self in the process. 

 There is no conventional witchcraft in The Hex Factor. There’s not even the faintest whiff of a cauldron or a spell-book or a broomstick. It is rather a story about being brave enough to embrace whoever we are...and about daring to be different.

I am now working on the sequel...and enjoying it immensely! This time the stakes are higher and the story in played out on a much bigger stage. Oh, and there is more than a passing reference to the witches in Macbeth. I just couldn’t resist it! 


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