Patrick Ness says hello as our Writer in Residence

Published on: 08 March 2009 Author: Patrick Ness

The award-winning author Patrick Ness, writer of A Monster Calls and other brilliant books, became our first-ever Writer in Residence back in 2009. This was his very first blog for us...

Patrick Ness

Welcome! I'm a newcomer here myself, so don't be shy.

We'll distress the carpets, mark the walls and lower the property values together. I haven't yet found the en suite, but the builders have left a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Which is all yours, as champagne makes me whiffy.

My name is Patrick Ness, and I am BookTrust's very first writer in residence. It's an online writer-in-residency, so it's not like I'm getting a cliffside retreat with dramatic views of Bodmin Moor or anything (grumble grumble).

The benefit of being online, though, is that it's open and available to everyone to come and have a peek, and this is regardless of age, with younger writers just starting out being particularly welcome. So roll up, roll up! There are plenty of good things in store.

More about Patrick Ness' time as Writer in Residence

'Never pick a comedy title'

As for my bona fides, I'm the author of three (in May, it'll be four) books of fiction. I've written a novel, The Crash of Hennington, and a short story collection, Topics About Which I Know Nothing.

And since my work as a Writer in Residence will involve lots of writing tips (more on that in a moment), let the first one be that if you decide on a comedy title for your book, be sure it's just as funny when you've said it for the ten thousandth time as when you said it the first. Or, to paraphrase: Never pick a comedy title.

I'm probably better known, though, for my novel for young adults, The Knife of Never Letting Go, which won both the 2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the 2008 BookTrust Teenage Prize (thank you, hosts!). The sequel is called The Ask and the Answer (not a fan of short titles, me, it seems) is out in May, and I've just now, just in the past meagre days, finished the first draft of the conclusion of the trilogy. Which has a title that might be long (or not) but it's a secret. So don't ask.

How to get published and live forever

But that secretly titled book plays a big part of this writer-in-residency. As the first duty of any 21st-century Writer in Residence is a blog, this one will be directly about the writing and rewriting process of a book that's headed towards publication. I'm no Simon Cowell – I have better hair, for one – so I won't be telling you that you sound like a literary cruise ship singer and should give up altogether.

But I will tell you what I do and what helps me towards turning thousands and thousands of wildly disorganised words into slightly fewer thousands of words of staggering genius. Or at least readable fun.

I'll also be talking about the process of having a new book out and all the surprises attendant with being a writer for young adults.

I'll also engage in the age-old process (reserved exclusively for published writers, and possibly royalty) of moaning at length about what an incredible drag it is to have your dream job. I can feel the pity rushing in.

There'll also be a regularly updated page of writing tips for those of you just starting out or working on your first novels, with special tips for younger writers. I'll even give some tips near the end about the holy grail: getting published and thereby living forever. Or at least until you go out of print.

Short stories and writing tips

But wait, there's more! In May, I'll be taking part in a video interview with a school about the writing process, and in June (or so), I'll be publishing an exclusive short story here, which I will probably have already talked about ad nauseum in the writing of it so it'll already feel like a slightly unwelcome old friend.

I'm also working on a good way to answer your questions. Because it's not just me here writing on my own, I'd like this to be an interactive and friendly thing, so you'll be able to comment and ask and whinge, and I'll do my best to comment, answer and whinge back.

But for now, I say again, welcome. Now, wipe your feet and get comfortable, we've got work to do.

Read more blogs from Patrick Ness

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