Exclusive Blog Post from Adam Baron, author of Boy Underwater
1st August 2018
Adam Baron shares the inspiration for his debut children’s novel, Boy Underwater, and tells us how writing for children compares to writing for Adults
Boy Underwater begins when my hero Cymbeline Igloo makes the mistake of challenging the school bully to a swimming race – when he’s never been swimming EVER. The idea came to me when I was helping take my daughter’s Year 4 class down to the pool for their first swimming lesson. Most of the children were excited but a couple looked REALLY scared. It made me wonder what it would be like to have to face that if you had never been allowed to go anywhere near water at all, let alone into a swimming pool. The idea unravelled from there and soon the story felt totally real to me. Cymbeline and his friends came alive in front of me, which was an amazing gift. Soon I was just following him about in my head and writing about the things he got up to. I did meet some problems though, which were different to the ones I’ve faced when writing novels for adults (I’ve published five of those).
The first problem is that Boy Underwater contains some serious material. Cym’s mum has mental health issues and he has to deal with the fact that his dad died when he was a baby. Writing for younger people is, I began to realise, a real responsibility. I had to make sure that my readers felt safe in Cym’s world, even if things do look a bit shaky at times. With this in mind I was very careful to make it clear that, while all good stories offer the possibility of very bad outcomes, Cym has the strength of character to make it through to a safe, happy place – and take the reader along with him.
The other new problem I faced as a writer was that young people aren’t free to do what they like, as adults are. At various times I needed Cym to be in certain places that he wouldn’t be allowed to go to on his own. Finding ways for him to get there was great fun (look at how Veronique gets him from his Aunt’s to her house for instance). I solved these problems with Cym’s help and hopefully they have just made the book more engaging. Problems are great for writers because they make us think even harder!
The last thing that’s different about writing for young people is the places you go when you’ve finished it. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited into lots of schools and bookshops to talk about Boy Underwater and have met great pupils, teachers and booksellers wherever I’ve gone. This has been wonderful. I hope you enjoy Boy Underwater!
A heart-breaking, heart-warming novel for everyone of 10 and older - this book will probably make you cry, and will definitely make you laugh.
Cymbeline Igloo (yes, really!) has NEVER been swimming
Not ever. Not once.
But how hard can it be? He's Googled front crawl and he's found his dad's old pair of trunks. He's totally ready.
What he's not ready for is the accident at the pool - or how it leads his mum to a sudden breakdown.
Now, with the help of friends old and new, Cymbeline must solve the mystery of why his mum never took him near water - and it will turn his whole life upside down...
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