Tuesday, November 09, 2010

An Evening with... Ellen Renner

Ellen Renner is SCBWI's Coordinator for the Southwest. She has wanted to be a writer since she was five and has always written. But, she said she would not be the published writer she is today, without the help of SCBWI. She explained how she spent twenty years trying to paint and write and not doing very well at either.

Desperate to learn how to illustrate she joined the Society of Illustrators. Slowly, she moved more to the writing and joined SCBWI where she learnt so much, especially from taking advantage of a one-to-one at the conference. The idea for her first novel, Castle of Shadows, came as an image of a King about to put the last card on a castle of playing cards.

The real turning point though was when she entered the Cornerstones WOW Factor competition. She had to have a full manuscript written to enter but she had only written 50 pages. She finished her first draft with two weeks to spare. All her hard work payed off, as Ellen won the competition and that is how she got her agent.

It took nearly two years and several rewrites before Castle of Shadows was finally published in January 2010 by Orchard Books. It was described by the Bookseller as:

A completely gripping, edge of-your-seat adventure.

The sequel, City of Theives, quickly followed in August 2010. She told us how it never feels real until you start doing school events, because the children are so enthusiastic.

Ellen described her writing genre as ‘Steampunk’. I had never heard of Steampunk before so, decided to look it up. Wikipedia says:

Steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used - usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain - that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.
I have learnt something today. J

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