Dear Unpublished Me - James Nicol

This weeks Dear Unpublished Me post comes to you from my local celebirty James Nicol! James is the author of the best selling MG novel The Apprentice Witch and the muchly anticipated second novel A Witch Alone
James Nicol has loved books and stories his whole life. As a child he spent hours absorbed in novels, watching epic 1980s cartoons or adventuring in the wood at the bottom of the garden searching for dragons and witches. He has worked in bookshops and libraries and now spends all his spare time writing! He lives on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens in a house with too many books and too many musical instruments with his partner and a black and white cockapoo called Bonnie. 
Dear Unpublished Me . . .

First of all, this is not some sort of ‘ghost of Christmas past’ moment. I’m not about to recount hundreds of things you’ve done wrong with your life in hope of changing you – it’s all good!

So, I’m hoping this letter finds you through the mists of time (cue swirly mists and strange music) somewhere at the point where you have just started to write the first draft of The Apprentice Witch, which at that point was called The Apprentice Witches Handbook. (spoiler number one, the title of the book changes – as does quite a lot of the book itself – you’ll get over it!) But at this point the big question on your mind is simply, “Can I finish writing a whole novel?”

Well yes you can – so whatever you do don’t give up or based on my Doctor Who and Star Trek watching that could make things really sticky for me at this end of things!

It will be tricky fitting it all in with work and everything else and sometimes you will feel entirely lost but KEEP GOING, you will always find your way back. There are such exacting times ahead of you that you wouldn’t ever imagine, new places to visit, new adventures and experiences awaiting you and all for the story that is slowly forming in your mind. Oh, and just a quick tip – give up now trying to do that first draft straight onto the computer it’s like torture. Get a nice notebook and a mechanical pencil and go for it – it took me half a year of staring helplessly at the laptop screen to work that out!

You’ll soon meet a bunch of wonderful children’s and YA writers through the Golden Egg Academy many of whom will become some of your closest and dearest friends, you don’t have to go on this journey alone and they will be great support through the years ahead. You’ll also get to work with some of the very best editors in the country as a result and you don’t need to worry that you don’t know what you are doing or that people will laugh or think you are stupid or have no business writing a children’s book! No one else will doubt you so try not to doubt yourself so much either.

You are going to LOVE the editing process far more than you can ever imagine, it is a much more creative part of writing a book than how you are imagining it to be, so stop worrying about that. Editors aren’t scary and you will work with some really fantastic people over the coming years who will all care about your story and character as much as you do.

OK – major spoiler alert now. Your story will find a home with an amazing publisher, one you have long admired since your days as a children’s bookseller. This will be in a rather unexpected way (I don’t want to spoil the surprise though!) You’ll be well supported by friends old and new through all of this and find a wonderful agent, someone you meet through Golden Egg and who you think highly of and trust implicitly.

There are a thousand and more wonderful experiences waiting ahead, seeing your book rolling off the conveyor belt at the printers, holding the finished book in your hands for the first time and getting to give a copy to Nana on her 95th Birthday.
Seeing the response to the book from bloggers and reviewers will be great but it will be the experience of readers that will be the best experience, children presenting well-thumbed copies of your book over to be signed and talking to you about Arianwyn and Salle and Colin will be the very best part of the whole thing.

Of all the advice I can offer, I would simply say this, enjoy every part of it, the hard work will pay off and the people you will meet along the way will be fantastic, there will be lots of support for you and the book, there may even be a few (major) prize nominations and perhaps even a little review in the New York Times. . . but maybe I’ve said too much now.

Well off you go, that book (and the 2nd and 3rd in the series – whoops – more spoiler!) wont write themselves!

Love from

future you
by James Nicol

Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: 7th July 2016
ISBN13: 9781910655153

Arianwyn has fluffed her witch’s evaluation test.

Awarded the dull bronze disc and continuing as an apprentice – to the glee of her arch-rival, mean girl Gimma – she’s sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull. 

But her new life is far from boring. Turns out Gimma is the pompous mayor’s favourite niece – and worse, she opens a magical rift in the nearby Great Wood. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, a mysterious darkness begins to haunt her – and it’s soon clear there’s much more than her pride at stake …

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