Cover Design Reveal

I’m very pleased to reveal the cover for my book ‘Evan and the Bottom Rockets’! Joe Shepherd did a good job not just on the cover but also in the book itself and I think it looks great. What do you think?

My website name has changed since this proof was made.

final cover

Author Q&A

‘Evan and the Bottom Rockets’

Author Q&A

What’s the book about?

“Well…I don’t want to give too much away but I can say that it’s about Evan, a precocious boy just into secondary school, and Evan’s problem, which is that he breaks wind outrageously loudly and with a tremendously strong and evil smell! The book is full of the chaos that this unleashes in different situations. Eventually the reader finds out what’s causing it.”

Why did you write it?

“I wrote it for my son, who was seven at the time. It made him laugh and so I decided to share it with other children by turning it into a book. Hopefully they will laugh too – that’s what I hoped to achieve with this project!”

Who would like this book?

“It’s probably best suited to children of seven upwards and to anyone with a childish sense of humour! I deliberately tried to write it for parents as well as their children because I know how painful reading the same book, that you can’t stand, night after night, can be. There are jokes in the book for parents that kids might not necessarily get.”

How long did it take to write and how difficult was it to do?

“Writing it was the easy part! It came really quickly. I didn’t sit at my desk for days getting stuck – I wrote in short bursts in between other things – and it didn’t feel like hard work at all. The hard work came in the editing process and in the whole business of finding a publisher and getting it published.”

Why did you decide to self-publish?

“Unfortunately, traditional publishing is failing first-time authors. It’s all down to the bottom line and there isn’t the money these days to devote to publishing and marketing new authors or the willingness to take the risk that their work won’t sell. It’s not just the publisher’s fault; it’s really down to the way that we’re buying books. We don’t tend to try new authors out. We stick to the ones we’ve heard of. This means that a few established authors and celebrity authors seem to dominate the market and other authors struggle. Once something is making money the rest of the publishers seem to jump on it – like the mindfulness adult colouring books a while back.

I knew that there was as much chance of getting published as winning the lottery but I still tried for six months. Publishers get thousands and thousands of authors pestering them each year and only choose a few but I thought it was poor that some didn’t even bother to send me a standard rejection email.

I knew that self-publishing was a route that has proved successful for a number of authors and I wanted to move on with the project. Self-publishing is not like vanity publishing anymore. Many well-known authors choose to do it. I decided to do it knowing that the only other alternative would be to get years and years of rejections before I could even get an agent. Authors don’t need traditional publishers anymore – we can do it ourselves and make it work!”

What has self-publishing been like?

“Researching self-publishing companies took me an age. I just couldn’t make my mind up. In the end I decided on the Welsh company Rowanvale because they were the only ones who bothered to reply to my e-mails in depth and reasonably quickly. I just had a feeling about them and decided to go with that gut-instinct.

The process has been more time consuming than I had imagined, more difficult and certainly more expensive than I would have liked. I dislike the fact that there are hidden charges – there’s always something that would incur an additional cost. Thankfully I haven’t made any errors in my side of the work so far and so I have kept those extra costs to a minimum. I bet most self-publishing companies are the same in that regard.

It’s amazing how editing and proof-reading was still so important even after spending so much time doing it myself. I have a degree in English, and was trained to teach it at Cambridge University, yet I still missed things here and there. In fact, I noticed something even after the manuscript had been checked over twice!

At present I’m very close to having a proof copy in my hands and the marketing service that I paid for will begin shortly. I’ll write more about it in other posts on my blog as we go along.”

How did you find an illustrator?

“I pitched my job proposal on an internet site, and, with great difficulty, finally chose Joe as my illustrator. It was the right decision as the illustrations are great and well-suited to the book.”

Will you be writing a sequel?

“Yes – I’ve already done it! When it will be published I don’t know but I’m just beginning to think about a third. At the same time I’m also writing a book for early teenage kids.”

Why do children laugh at bodily functions?

“It’s not just children! Children are told not to laugh at them, and so, of course, it makes them laugh all the more. They are just funny and kids can make the noises themselves. It’s school-boy humour. It’s gross but funny at the same time.”

Did you draw on real life situations and people?

“Definitely. I’m in the book (I won’t say where). My son appears in it. I have a daughter named Rosie and she’s in it. The teachers are a composite of one or two of my own teachers and I must confess there’s a little of Theresa May in the head-mistress. Every character has a hint of someone I have known for real.”

Were you inspired by other authors?

“I tried not to be. I wanted to be original and I think I have achieved that. I conceived the book very visually, I could see every scene in my head, so I suppose in that way I wasn’t thinking of books I was thinking of films. I would love to see these books as films one day. Dream on!”

What is success to you?

“Good question. Just handing the book over to my son is a success. Perhaps if someone buys the book and leaves a good review on Amazon that will be success to me. I’m certainly not expecting fame and fortune! I’m aware that making money on this project will only come with huge investment, and, sadly, I’m not in a position to do that. I just hope that I can bring a smile to the faces of a few children. That’s a profound thing to do.”

New site address and more

My new site address is http://www.authorchrismercer.wordpress.com

Latest news: The text is now complete following two stages of editing and quality control and this week I have chosen a font and begun to discuss marketing techniques.  The book is still on course to be ready for December and will (hopefully) be available to buy in both e-book and paperback form.  I will be posting on where it will be available, and how you can help me launch it soon!

My First Book Will Be Available In December

Good news! I can now confirm that my first book will be coming out in early December ready for Christmas! It’s currently going through some editorial and design work. Any further news and perhaps some sneak previews will be found here and on my facebook author page!

Second Review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’.

Here is another review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’:

‘This is absolutely genius – I haven’t laughed so much for ages. It’s an absolute gem and will be irresistible to kids – farting, burping and all manner of wonderful bodily functions entwined with sharp writing and real wit. I loved it! So clever – and so genuinely funny… I can’t fault it.’

Karen Holmes
Editor 2QT- She is an award winning adaptation editor for young readers (currently edits for the likes of Penguin Publishing) and an author in her own right; a published novelist and short-story writer award winner.

New Illustration

I’m not going to give away all the illustrations but here is a new draft:

Mr. Hart-Boodle And Doctor Bottom
Mr. Hart-Boodle tries to locate the source of the smell.

These great illustrations are by Joe Shepherd.

Here Doctor Bottom is trying to understand exactly what is causing Evan to smell so foul. Perhaps his feet are the issue? So he persuades Mr. Hart-Boodle to undertake the nightmarish task of smelling Evan’s sock.

‘We will eliminate the emanation with a patient investigation.’

Announcing First New Illustration

Here is the first new illustration for ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’. Information about the artist coming soon.

Evan and family
From left to right: Bethany (Evan’s older sister); Winnie (mother); Evan; Willy (father); Fetch; Rosie (younger sister).

First Review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’ and ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’

‘These seem like really fun kids books! I think children, especially boys, will love the irreverent toilet humour here. You truly have a gift for ridiculous gross out comedy.

There are some wonderful, horribly evocative, similes used in both books that I think will have children in stitches (and their parents frowning somewhat disapprovingly, but surely that’s part of the appeal!) I love how many scenes escalate to absolutely ridiculous levels…

You’ve also got some really snappy dialogue that flows quickly and naturally between the characters. The conversation with Doctor Bottom is particularly great for this, and I love Mr Hart-Boodle’s increasing and insistent irritation at the doctor constantly getting his name wrong. I imagine that plenty of children will be able to draw unflattering parallels between their own fathers and Mr Hart-Boodle!’

Writing Advisor Rowanvale Books

Announcing ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’

Announcing ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’! The book is the second in the series featuring clever Evan the kid with sprout-induced fart problems and takes place somewhere in the middle of book one before Evan’s sprout eating is exposed. The setting is Evan’s summer holidays and, of course, the jokes are mainly on his father Willy Hart-Boodle. Evan’s bottom blows and when it does chaos usually ensues.

The Hart-Boodles take a trip to Spain where things don’t exactly go to plan. The flight over is marred by the first of Evan’s rocket farps and we first encounter ‘the big lady’. The apartment isn’t exactly as advertised and Willy Hart-Boodle has problems in a water park and at the beach. Rosie develops a disgusting habit of her own and Willy has more problems in the airport before they fly home.

The Hart-Boodles test-drive a car and encounter an unfortunate policeman before travelling to a wedding. Evan delivers more chaos and Willy makes a mess of his best-man duties.

Calamities occur when the Hart-Boodles visit a rare-breeds farm and later when they make a trip to the super-market.

So far the response has been good to this second instalment and it’s been great to hear the sound of a child’s laughter when jokes work!

The date of publishing will be some time in the future yet but will almost certainly be handled by a self-publishing company. If anybody has any advice about this I would be very interested to hear from you. Otherwise, stay tuned as the process towards publication continues. I will no doubt let you know all about it!

Evan And The Bottom-Rockets

My New Book for Children: ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’

My book is nearing the final stages of editing and I’m still receiving feedback from parents who’ve read a draft of it to their children.So far all the feedback has been very positive and it appears the book has made children laugh out loud throughout. What’s more, parents have also been laughing and that’s great because all along I have wanted to write for children and for their parents also. After all, the parents have to read the book, sometimes dozens of times, and they need to like it too. If they like it the whole process is so much better and they can share in a great experience with their child. I’ve read the same book dozens of times with my children, through gritted teeth. Sometimes these books are very uninteresting to parents and it is difficult having to read them again and again. I hope that my book won’t be like that.

The test for me was: did it make me laugh out loud as I was writing it? I have a childish side to my sense of humour and that has definitely helped me. My son has just turned 8 and his reaction to the different drafts as time went along was extremely helpful, not only did his laughter or lack of laughter help me to edit it, but his suggestions have been surprisingly useful as well.

I cannot publish my book here on this blog because it would harm its chances of being accepted by a publisher, and I need to watch out for people who might steal my work. However, I can give you a synopsis with some quotes from the current draft.

Synopsis

The book concerns a boy named Evan:

‘Evan Hart-Boodle had always been a topsy-turvy sort of boy in the middle of a topsy-turvy sort of world. He had a problem and only he knew why.’

Evan is an unusually clever boy in a world of foolish adults where roles seem to be reversed. His problem is the central theme of the book. Perhaps I won’t give it away but I will let you know that it concerns certain bodily functions. Do your children laugh at those? Mine do. In fact, I do too!

The reason for his ‘problem’ is a secret until the end of the book.

Other characters in the book include a doctor who has a problem with names:

‘Doctor Bottom wasn’t very good with names. “What can I do for you Mr. Fart-Noodle?” he said. “Hart-Boodle”, replied Evan’s dad, awkwardly.’

A hapless father called Mr. Willy Hart-Boodle:

“He sat on a Weever Fish and it poisoned him in the butt”, said Evan. “He had to go to the Lifeguard’s hut and put a burning flannel on his butt but he dropped it in front of everybody…”

An eccentric school friend called Ophelia Pongsby:

‘Ophelia was in a world of her own and began walking in the wrong direction. She was grabbed by somebody and sent the right way, and there was a good deal of giggling. She climbed the steps to the stage and stumbled, grabbing the lectern to steady herself, sending a glass of water all over the Mayor and his wife who were standing up ready to award the prize.’

A fearsome Head Teacher known as Shirty-Gerty:

‘Mrs. Gertrude Booby instilled fear into every child. Her punishments were always severe, her wrath was renowned, her irritability legendary.’

An obsequious deputy called Mr. Paddy Pantsdown:

‘She then went on about the school year, which seemed to be all about how well she had done as Head-Teacher. Mr. Pantsdown looked on glowing with admiration for her and excitedly burst into applause at one point, but stopped when he realised he was the only one clapping. Shirty-Gerty gave him a glare and he put his fingers over his lips and shook his head as if to tell her he wouldn’t do it again.’

There is plenty of fun in the book with rude, or just plain silly, names.

‘“Willy Weewell?”
“Yes Miss Take”;
“James Windbottom?”
“Miss”;
Tiffany Whiff?”’

Children have really enjoyed these names. Be prepared to have to try and calm them down before bed-time because the story makes them quite rowdy according to one parent!

The Hart-Boodle family try and do normal family things but Evan’s problem makes every trip out an event. At school he becomes notorious following some high-profile incidents.

The book ends with Evan facing a new problem – a clever twist.

I can’t give it all away. If you would like to read the story and feel it would make your children laugh please show your support by leaving a comment. I hope that we can see this project through and that you will be able to get your hands on the finished book some time in the future!

Is this the sort of book that you would be interested in buying for your children? If not, why not? Let me know!