A Word With Ann Evans

A Word With Ann Evans - blog post image

I am thrilled to welcome a very special author to the blog today.  I met Ann Evans at a recent author event where she was presenting an 'children's writer' award she had judged.  I plucked up my courage to hi-jack her in the tea queue and hey presto

- here she is on the page for the rest of you to meet!  The reason I was so keen to talk to Ann is that, among her wide range of writing talents, she has written a series of children's books for reluctant readers and I am always interested to hear from authors who write for different audiences.  So if you, like me, would like to learn more about writing for reluctant readers your wish is my command!  Here are a few words from Ann Evans...

"There’s always so much to take into consideration when writing for children. Their age, their understanding, whether the content is suitable, the vocabulary and sentence structure, whether they are reading themselves or being read to, and so on.

When writing for reluctant readers, ie young people who struggle with books targeted at their age group, then there’s even more to think about. I've been writing for reluctant teen readers for about two years now, my thirteenth hi-lo book will be released in April. Prior to that I’ve mainly written for KS2 (middle grade) with adventure and mystery books. (You can check out Ann's books here)

My publisher for reluctant readers is Badger Learning, who have a brilliant range of books for all ages and abilities. I tend to write hi-lo books for teenagers whose reading ability age is much lower than their actual age. For example, a series may be suitable for those with a reading age of 8-9, but a higher interest age of 14-18.

Each series of books that Badger produce are written to captivate teenagers and young adults with their mature themes and eye-catching covers. Many of the series are illustrated, particularly for very hi-lo, where the interest age is 12+ but who have the reading ability of a 6-year-old.

Word lengths for series such as Dark Reads, Teen Reads and the Papercuts series to name just three, are around 6,000 words. But for very hi-lo illustrated books, the word length may be down to just 400 or 500 words. And that is challenging!

You need to write an exciting, suspenseful, atmospheric story that readers won’t be able to put down. The text needs to be simple and in manageable chunks, so that the struggling reader will be able to cope.

For me, when I’m given a brief for a series to try for, I think of the story first. It has to excite me and be suitable for teenagers of that age, regardless of their ability at that stage. When I’ve got an exciting plot in my mind, I start to write it. I write in a straightforward manner – no flashbacks. Once written, I start to edit. Here I exchange words that I think would be difficult for easier ones. I re-phrase sentences to cut back on words and to make understanding easier. I cut out all superfluous words. I keep description to a minimum, so the story moves along swiftly. I think what I’m trying to get across in each scene and become very selective about what stays, what goes, and what needs re-arranging. Every word really does count!

The covers created by Badger Learning are outstanding and the very hi-lo books are fully illustrated. When I go into schools to do an author visit, all the pupils are attracted to these books – regardless of ability and age. One senior school reports that one of my very hi-lo books, Red Handed, (about 500 words) is one of the most popular books taken out. And the school’s lunchtime book club even made me a little video trailer. Another of my hi-lo books, Keeper, (about 6,000 words) was runner-up in the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards 2018/Rapid Reads category which I was thrilled about. Most definitely, there is a need for reluctant reader books, and I’m looking forward to writing more."

Congratulations on you award and thank you so much for telling us about your work Ann.  You can find and follow Ann on the links below and find my reviews of Blank and Kicked Into Touch on The Bookshelf.

Website: www.annevansbooks.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ann-Evans-Books-146957850210/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annevansauthor

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Journey To The River Sea - blog post image

Journey To The River Sea

Review to follow shortly! 

 

Teachers - have you discovered @BookPenPals? A new initiative pairing authors & illustrators with schools to make reading recommendations via postcards. They're pretty oversubscribed, but if you're interested it might be worth getting your name on the waiting list. They have some fabulous authors on board.