Kris grew up in Plymouth, where he spent most of his time reading books, riding around on his bike and daydreaming about writing a book himself one day. Since then, Kris has had more jobs than he cares to think about. He has been a cinema projectionist, a blood factory technician and worked at an animal sanctuary in the Guatemalan jungle. Kris has recently completed the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. He graduated with Distinction and was awarded the prize for Most Promising Writer.
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My Writing Journey by Kris Humphrey
I wish I could say I spent my childhood scribbling away, creating fantastical stories safe in the certainty that I’d one day become a writer. The truth is that it never occurred to me that writing could be a career. I didn’t know anyone who wrote books – or did anything creative for a living, for that matter – so becoming a professional writer simply didn’t seem to be an option.
I didn’t actually start to write seriously until after I’d finished school and university. I think the reality of suddenly having to find a career for myself jolted me into activity. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a job and the old daydreams of writing became much more urgent and real. At first I wrote short stories that were aimed at adults rather than younger readers, and it took years of secretive writing before I showed any of my stories to even my closest friends and family. It’s pretty embarrassing at first, and any criticism really stings.
Eventually, I began sending my stories to competitions and literary journals, gradually growing more and more serious about writing. But none of my work was getting accepted. These were difficult years and I often lost motivation, worrying that I was wasting my time and only holding on to this dream of being a writer so I could avoid getting a ‘proper’ job. I worked in shops and offices and cinemas – often jobs that I really enjoyed, but never anything I was passionate about. I wrote as much as I could in my spare time and tried not to taunt myself with dreams of being published.
My first breakthrough happened when I realized I wanted to write for children. I’d been working on ideas for novels for a while and, no matter what I did, my imagination always steered me towards the kinds of books I used to read at school – strange, adventurous stories set in other worlds. It became obvious that I was a children’s writer at heart and so I embraced the idea and started on my first novel for young people.
The next breakthrough came when I met a children’s writer – a real-life, published author – and she told me about a degree in Writing for Young People she’d completed at Bath Spa University. (The author was the talented and incredibly generous Elen Caldecott.) It goes without saying that I applied for the course and, luckily, I was accepted. So I gleefully quit my job and not-so-gleefully took out a large loan to pay for the course. It was every bit as good as Elen had told me. The campus was a beautiful stately home in the Wiltshire countryside and the course offered an incredible opportunity to share and discuss writing not only with a fantastic group of emerging writers, but also with a team of tutors – all of whom were published authors.
The course at Bath Spa led directly to my signing with a literary agency and, although my first novel never found a publisher, I was then in a position to apply for other writing projects. When I heard that Stripes Publishing were looking for a new fantasy series I sent them some of my work along with an outline for the plot of a new book. That outline became A Whisper of Wolves.
It’s hard to convey the feeling of seeing a book with your name on it appear in print. It still seems a little unreal, as if I’m being carried forwards by a new, powerful current. I also feel immense gratitude to everyone who has supported and encouraged me so far, and to the agents and publishers who are taking a chance on me right now.
So, to all budding writers out there, no matter how young or old, I’d say keep writing. Passion and perseverance really can make your daydreams become real.
When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild. After many years of peace in the kingdom of Meridina, rumours are spreading of a planned invasion – could the demonic Narlaw be returning from the darklands? It is up to the Whisperers and their animal companions to defend Meridina, protect Princess Ona and stop the Narlaw from destroying their world.
When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, Alice suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village. The Narlaw are on the attack and it’s up to the Whisperers to stop them…