Tag Archives: infernal plagiarists

The Sheep Have Landed!

Amidst all the brouhaha about Catch A Falling Star and Skylab and things that fall from the sky, something else has happened.

A new picture book has landed! Some sheep have landed – with heavy thuds on the floor of a little boy’s bedroom.

FinalcovermedresLet Me Sleep, Sheep hit shelves on 1 March, the same day Catch A Falling Star was published and just after DUCK! was named a Notable book in the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards, at which point I suddenly realised I’ve written three books in a row about things unexpectedly falling from the sky-ish.

No, wait. Not written. Published. Because the truth is I wrote Let Me Sleep, Sheep a long time ago. A very long time ago. The story of this book begins in 2006 when I had the initial idea. I don’t know where this one came from. It’s just one of those quirky little things that appeared out of somewhere, and which I threw into my ‘random picture book ideas’ file alongside many many others.

OriginalSheepThoughts

My initial notes from 2006

I’d written about twelve picture books at that point, most of them pretty awful and none of them published. But this one was better, I thought. And moreover, my first novel had just been accepted for publication. By the time I had a submittable draft of Let Me Sleep, Sheep!, it was December 2006 and I was just three months away from being an actual real published author.

Then I stumbled across a book called The 108th Sheep, which was launching on exactly the same day as my debut novel, with a premise alarmingly similar to Let Me Sleep, Sheep! There was no way I could submit mine now, I thought. I told no one about it, tucked it away in the metaphorical bottom drawer.

A year later, when I saw a book called  The Eleventh Sheep come out, I thought, hmm, maybe there’s room for more materialising sheep books after all and pulled the manuscript again to tweak it for submission. When the following month, I saw a review of It’s Time To Sleep, You Crazy Sheep, I put my head down very firmly on the desk. I’d really missed the boat this time. Surely we’d reached critical mass for “materialising sheep” books in the picture book market, at least for now. Maybe if I waited a few more years?

Instasheep

I waited a few more years. I published a few more books, even some picture books. I had more credibility now! I had a publisher! Some other publishers knew my name!

I sent it off. I got rejections. It was fun but too difficult to illustrate. The problem, you see, was that all the action was taking place in one location.

But but but what about all those other counting sheep books? I wondered. I wanted to say. I did not say. I tucked it back in the metaphorical drawer, the third one down this time, where all the junk lives. I got on with other ideas, other books, other things.

And then, in late 2016, I signed with an agent. And I didn’t have anything new to send her so I went back to the Drawers of Rejection, to see if there was anything salvageable. The sheep made me laugh. I thought hey, I reckon this is actually okay. I did a quick google for new counting sheep books. I couldn’t find any. Clearly, this was my moment! I sent it off.

Three weeks later, I was offered a contract. Shortly after, the glorious Leila Rudge went to work, effortlessly breezing past the ‘single location’ problem. And in June 2018, approximately five days after we sent Let Me Sleep, Sheep! to the printer, a book called Go To Sleep, Sheep! was published and I DID NOT CARE AT ALL. And in March 2019, one of the very first reviews on Goodreads said this …

GRReview2

… and I laughed so hard I almost cried.

 

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Nothing New Under The Sun

If you are a regular reader of this not-at-all regular blog, you will know that I’ve written before about my fascination with ‘creative coincidences’, the way in which writers will sometimes alight upon the same idea at the same time for no apparent reason, or a rash of books with similar themes or settings will appear within a short space of time.

Those original posts were prompted by my then-recent discovery that a book covering ground similar to my junior novel Surface Tension had just come out in the US. As is the way of these things, I’ve more recently discovered that another book with the same setting – of a town ‘drowned’ to make way for a reservoir – came out late last year in Canada. I became aware of this while idly Googling the phrase “The Town That Drowned”, which was high on my list of possible titles for the US publication of Surface Tension, scheduled for later this year. Yes, that sound you hear is the gnashing of teeth. Yes, the title of the Canadian book, which looks absolutely gorgeous and has been shortlisted for a slew of awards, is The Town That Drowned. On a blog I read while surfing around gnashing my teeth, someone even commented that the ‘drowned town’ idea is ‘becoming something of a theme in Canadian literature’.

My friends, you cannot escape the zeitgeist.

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Imaginary Connections

Yesterday I wrote about creative ‘coincidences’, perhaps more aptly described as a certain kind of alignment. Anna Branford, author of the gorgeous Violet Mackerel books had an interesting take on this in the comments, in response to which I will simply nod my head and refer you there.

If you want to see a really interesting example of how this sort of thing might work, check out this Derren Brown experiment in subliminal communication. It’s fascinating stuff.

But to the point I was writing towards yesterday – Surface Tension and the oh no! moment. Here’s what happened.

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Imaginary Connections

Ever had this happen? You’re working on a project, or thinking about a project, or you’ve just sent something off to a publisher. And it’s so distinctive. It’s an idea that’s specific to you, emerging from your own personal history, and you’ve attached to it all the other little bits and pieces that accumulate during the writing process, bits and pieces which, again, are idiosyncratic, part of your own subjective experience.

And then all of a sudden you see something similar in Bookseller+Publisher, hey, I’m working on this thing and they look at you oddly and say but *I’m* working on that thing or oh, you mean like that book by suchandsuch.

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