Rebecca King’s Debut Children’s Fantasy Series, Published with Hachette – Jericho Writers
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Rebecca King’s Debut Children’s Fantasy Series, Published with Hachette

Rebecca King’s Debut Children’s Fantasy Series, Published with Hachette

When she began her writing career in journalism, debut author Rebecca King never thought she’d end up as a published children’s author.

After learning everything there is to know about writing and attending our Summer Festival, Rebecca was all set for authorial success. Her debut children’s fantasy book, Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never, was published in August 2022 by Hachette Children’s Group. We had the pleasure of chatting with her about the publishing process and the most important things a children’s author should bear in mind.

JW: Hi Rebecca! You began your writing career with a degree in Journalism, and worked for a short time as a journalist. What prompted the transition into fiction?  

I loved working as a reporter and spent three years at a newspaper after university. But after a while, I had a feeling that things weren’t quite right, and I was desperate to take off and go travelling. I’ve always been an avid reader and I loved the idea of writing a book, but never knew where to start. Time spent traveling meant I was on trains, boats and planes a lot and with all that time, I thought I may as well give it a go and see what happened. To begin with, getting published felt like a bit of a ridiculous wish. After a while, it became something I desperately wanted to work towards, and knowing that drove a lot of my future decisions.  

JW: What kinds of resources did you find useful whilst you were writing?

I’m a bit of a course addict and I love to research, so once I decided to write fiction, I looked for every single tool I could find! I started off by taking the Curtis Brown Course in Writing for Children, then did the Faber Academy course, and eventually got myself onto an MA in Creative Writing. But I have to say, so much of what I found useful came from reading in my genre, as well as from books such as Save the Cat. I listen to lots of podcasts such as The Honest Authors podcast, How Do You Write, Writer’s Routine, and Joined Up Writing. Another great resource is One Stop for Writers, created by the genius minds behind The Emotion Thesaurus.  

To begin with, getting published felt like a bit of a ridiculous wish. After a while, it became something I desperately wanted to work towards, and knowing that drove a lot of my future decisions.

One of the things I recommend the most is Jericho Writers, as it gives you a bit of everything – community, expertise, webinars… and plenty more. If you can’t afford to join all year round or have other commitments, I recommend signing up for the Summer Festival of Writing. It’s jam-packed with workshops, Q&As, interviews and panels. The variety is so rich as well, and there’s something for everyone in each event. Even if it’s a workshop outside of your genre, I guarantee there will be something motivational or inspirational hidden within. Jericho also checked over my cover letter before I sent it out to agents, and this was such a confidence-booster – just what was needed before getting prepared for the inevitable rejection experience! 

One of the things I recommend the most is Jericho Writers, as it gives you a bit of everything – community, expertise, webinars… and plenty more.

JW: You received three offers of representation at around the same time. How did you choose your agent?  

I should start by saying that this was the third book I had submitted to agents, and I got a LOT of rejections. But yes, I was very lucky to get three offers from three incredible agents. I chose to go with Kate Shaw from The Shaw Agency for so many reasons, not least because her enthusiasm for my book was infectious. She’s exactly the kind of person you want championing your book, fighting your corner, and the person I wanted to be on the phone delivering both the good and bad news. As soon as I spoke with her, I knew there was no way I could say no to her. It still feels like such a privilege to be part of her author list among some of my favourite writers.  

JW: Your book was published in August 2022 with Hachette – which is so exciting! What has the process of working with a large traditional publisher been like? Have there been any surprises?  

It has been SO exciting! I think exciting is my most over-used word at the moment, and for that I feel very fortunate!  

There have been plenty of pleasant surprises along the way. The first was discovering how much I love editing! I had been prepared for the worst, thinking that my editor might rip my book apart or make changes I couldn’t agree with, but I’ve been so lucky to have an incredible editor who just gets the book, and every suggestion she makes feels natural and logical. She really made Ember the best book it could be, and it continues to be so much fun working with her. I’m always learning from her notes and feel so fortunate to be working with her.  

Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never, Rebecca King

Another surprise was how many pinch-me-moments there have been along the way. As writers, we are so focused on that goal of finding an agent and getting a deal, I think we tend to lose sight of all the small victories that come with it. Moments like meeting your editor, going into the publisher’s office for the first time, learning that it’s going to be an audiobook… all these things were just dreams at one point, so it’s important to celebrate each and every one.  

JW: What’s your best tip for writers working on children’s and middle-grade fiction? What are the most important elements to get right?

Something I’m still learning is how important it is to consider what your writing is saying. When I began writing, I was adamant that my books would be simply adventures – they were just for fun and I didn’t want to force a lesson into the excitement.  

For me, it’s not about being didactic or bashing the reader over the head with a moral. It’s about showing characters grow and change naturally through their experiences.

I’ve quickly learnt how naïve that was! We all subconsciously imbue our work with our own values, morals, and opinions. Our writing is shaped by our opinions and experiences. Not only that, but a reader is experiencing your story through their own lens, shaped by their perspectives, opinions, and values. Each person can take something different from your story, and so, we have a responsibility as writers to really consider what message we want to get across.  

For me, it’s not about being didactic or bashing the reader over the head with a moral. It’s about showing characters grow and change naturally through their experiences. I think we all want to continue growing and learning in life, so it’s important that we show our characters doing the same. Like us, our characters won’t get it right every time, so if we can imbue our work with positive messages and lessons of growth, there’s a chance our readers might be inspired to continue growing with them.  

About Rebecca

Rebecca was born in Wolverhampton, but spent her childhood in a tiny village called Sound in Cheshire. 
She studied Journalism at the University of Portsmouth, and has worked as a reporter and a primary school teacher, including three years teaching in China.

She now lives in Bratislava, Slovakia, with her partner and her Chinese rescue dog, Mushu.

Buy Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never

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