Karen McCombie is an author of children and young adult novels.
Currently, she lives in London with her husband Tom, and their daughter Milly. She is the author of the series Stella Etc., Ally’s World, Indie Kidd, Sadie Rocks, and You, Me and Thing.
Me and my (teen) muse…
Guest Post by Karen McCombie
“Mum… this bit in your book. Is that based on the mad café we went to/that school trip you came on/the lost dog we found in the street?”
Above are the sort of words generally spoken by my thirteen-year-old daughter Milly, whenever she reads one of my books.
Milly’s been to lots of my book events over the years, so she knows my talks back to front (she could probably take over and do them for me, if I suddenly got struck down by laryngitis/lightning/abducted by aliens). She knows I talk a lot about demystifying the idea of inspiration, and calling it what it actually is; nicking stuff. And for my storylines and characters and scenes, I ‘nick stuff’ from everyday places I go, things I see, hear and read. There’s lots of delicious random stuff-ness around, if you keep a magpie eye out for it.
And whether she likes it or not (and I’m pretty sure she does), over and over again Milly’s provided plenty of inspiration for my writing. Not any major storylines; just a detail here and a bit of colour there.
That’s till this last year, when she influenced BOTH the books I was writing. ‘The OMG! Blog’ (out now) started life as two germs of ideas that tangled together… first up, it made me laugh that I embarrassed Milly so easily by dancing in the Co-op fruit&veg aisle to a Daft Punk track playing in the background. That noodled into the idea of a group of girls coming together to moan about their respective mad and maddening mums. Add that notion to the fact that Milly was devouring Zoella’s ‘Girl Online’, and I suddenly had my characters blast their mum rants in a blog!
Milly’s influence snuck into the second book – soon-to-be-published ‘The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall’ – without me even realising. As I wrote about Ellis dealing with the waves of anxiety that rolled in and rocked her world, it dawned on me that I was actually channelling Milly’s own experiences of anxiety. That was a tough one… I checked with her that it was okay to do this, and she was cool with it, glad that a character with anxiety was being written about…
So yep, in small ways and more recently pretty major ways, my not-so-baby girl is my muse.
Right, I’d better go check what she’s reading right now and what music she’s listening to – there might be the seedlings of a new story there!
Four girls meet in detention and are encouraged to take part in a school blogging competition together. Ideas are few and far between but then they realise they have one BIG thing in common and the project is born – the ‘(O)ur (M) ums – (G)rrr’ Blog.
As they pour out frustrations and niggles online, the blog gets more and more popular.
But will the mums find them out?
‘The OMG! Blog’ is published by Barrington Stoke (out now)
‘The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall’ published by Scholastic (out June)