Title : The Bagman
Review: The Bagman puts a new twist on good vs evil. I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even though the bagman was evil, I still felt my heart soften towards him, which ignited a war in my head as I cheered him on and cheered on Abigail at the same time. Normally, I find books set back in the war setting to be depressing and not worth the read. I took a chance on this book and was thrilled by the level of adventure and the twists and turns the story took that made me question which side I was on. Good or Evil?
I recently sat down with the author of this surprisingly delicious book. Here's what she had to say:
Please tell us about your latest book.
‘The Bagman’ is about Abigail, an orphan who is sent to St Winifred’s Orphanage for Wickard, Wilful and Wayward children. There she hears stories of the Bagman and what he will do to her if she does not behave. But Abigail does not believe in Bagmen… but he believes in her. He offers her seven wishes to be used over a week. But the wishes aren’t at all nice and soon Abigail is dealing with the catastrophes they create.
What can we expect from you in the future?
‘The Bagman’ is the first of a trilogy. Book two ‘The Physician’ will hopefully be out by the end of this year and book three ‘The Grave Digger’ by the end of next year. If, of course, all goes according to plan… I am a notorious procrastinator.
How do we find out about you and your books?
You can go to:
My blog www.rachaelrippon.blogspot.com.au
My Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rachaelripponwriter
Or Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18135014-the-bagman
I would also be open to telepathy as a means of communication as I’m pretty sure I may have it.
Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I go with the flow, although I do try and make a point of writing every day. Some days I write heaps, other days only a sentence or two. But as long as I’ve written SOMETHING I’m happy with myself.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
I write the first draft pretty quickly, in about a month or so. That’s the easy part. I then go through several drafts where I fix up plot flaws or make changes. Sometimes HUGE changes. And then I leave it. After a few months I come back with a fresh perspective. That’s when I start major editing. Fixing up badly written sentences, making sure the whole story flows smoothly and there are no gaping plot holes. Once I’ve done that, I send it off to people to read, and really consider any critiques they have. By the end of all this, usually I have something I’m happy with and is ready to publish.
What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I read, I take the dog for a walk, I go on Pinterest… I’m a bit addicted to that at the moment. Reading, though, is probably my biggest way of relaxing.
What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
The worlds I’m writing in motivate me to keep on writing. I have a spark of inspiration, and then I have to finish it. I love writing and that motivates me enough to keep on writing.
Where do your ideas come from?
Just from my day to day life. I see something or hear something or read something and it sticks with me. I heard the word ‘Bagman’ for instance on an episode of ‘The Wire’. It stuck in my head and my Bagman was the result of that.
Do you feel humour is important in children’s literature and why?
Not always, although I certainly do think children respond better to humour than serious fiction. You only have to look at popular children’s books like the Captain Underpants series by Dan Pilkey, Andrew Griffith’s ‘Just’ series to know that. Equally, though, I think children appreciate more sophisticated humour too like Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series or Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’.
Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
Not at the moment. I like writing children’s/young adult fiction because I don’t feel as if I have to be serious. I know adult fiction isn’t always serious, but whenever I try and write it I always seem to write about people with terminal cancer or marital problems and that only makes me depressed. I feel like children’s fiction gives me the scope to explore a wide range of subjects, some of them serous, but there is an underlying cheerful vibe that I don’t get when I write for adults.
Fill in the blank favorites -
Favorite Dessert? Chocolate Pudding
City? Sydney, Australia
Type of hero? Funny and quirky and mysterious and a bit of alright. Probably Howl from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ – the book or the movie, take your pick.
Type of heroine? Brave and strong and down to earth and loyal. Katniss from the ‘Hunger Games’ or Alanna from ‘The Lioness Quartet’ – I can’t decide who is my favourite.
What are some of your favorite things to do?
Read, but I mentioned that. I also enjoy drawing, singing in the shower, watching old movies and browsing through second hand bookstores.
Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
I always try to answer this question differently every time. This time I’ll go with ‘The Tennant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte. This book is about a woman who leaves her abusive husband and takes her child with her. For the time, it was quite a scandalous piece of writing and Anne sister’s Charlotte heavily supressed it after Anne’s death. I read it when I was fourteen or fifteen and I’ve loved it ever since.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
Tamora Perice, Diana Wynne Jones, E. Nesbit, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tanith Lee, J. K. Rowling… I could go on and on and on.
Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
I only have one book self-published, so I’ll choose from that so as not to spoil the rest of the series. My favourite hero would have to be the Bagman. I love him. I loved writing him, I loved discovering more about him and am also a tiny bit scared of him. My favourite heroine would be Polly. She’s only in it for the money and she doesn’t care. Polly was fun to write because she’s so selfish.
What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
‘The Bagman’ was not at all easy to write because it took me AGES to work up the courage to show other people and get feedback. The next book ‘The Physician’ is easier because once I finish the current draft I am going to show it around and get some helpful criticism. Which should make the rest of drafting/editing process much easier. Should.
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
The characters. My characters form themselves first, and then they dictate how the story goes. In ‘The Bagman’, for instance, it was the Bagman that I thought of first. I imagined him sitting in the armchair opposite me, legs crossed, hat shadowing his eyes and bag in lap. I wanted to find out more about him, so I wrote the book.
Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
I experience writer’s block all the time. I work through it by writing, even if it’s bad, at least I’m writing. And then sometimes I get so caught up in the story that I write thousands of words without stopping. Which is good.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
When people like my work. I love it when readers or reviewers contact me and tell me they like it. I always get a secret surge of joy. I also like writing the last sentence of a book. There’s something very satisfying in finishing it. I like that too.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
I would be an artist. I used to draw a lot, but I don’t have the time for it now. I imagine if I didn’t spend so much time writing, I would be drawing instead. Drawing is quite a lot like writing, you’re still creating other worlds, still creating crazy characters, but people can see them rather than read them.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Write. Just write. And once you’ve written something, show people. Don’t hide your writing in a draw or on a secret file on your computer. Books are supposed to be read. So write and get people to read it and give you feedback. Perhaps they’ll love it, perhaps not. But you’ll know how you can improve and next time you can make something even better.