It's been a while since I blogged about The Grimstones, my family of gothic marionettes, who started out as a theatre show and are now featured in a book series. The first two books, Hatched, and Mortimer Revealed, came out earlier this year, and I've spent a good chunk of the year working on the third book, Whirlwind, which is due out in December.
I'm now thrilled to have been asked by our publishers, Allen and Unwin, to write a fourth book in the series. With the first three books, I worked very closely with their editors to develop the plot and writing style. The Grimstones started out as a stage show, in which I and my partner Paula perform, along with the puppets, which I made. Moving the story from stage to book has been a big journey, and very fun, as I've got to go far deeper into the world and characters of The Grimstones than is possible from the stage. I've also had a massive learning curve as a writer, and have loved being the recipient of writing/plotting tips and advice from some of the world's best editors!
What I'm excited about right now with the fourth book, is that I feel I've learnt so much from A&U editors, that I'm ready to fly solo a bit more, and work on my own to develop the plot and characters as needed. Martha Grimstone meets a lot of new characters in this book, and I'm having a particularly marvellous time making them up. When I head off on a big bike ride, I set myself a couple of questions beforehands to mull over as I ride, and I'm finding that way I'm slowly piecing together the people and the story needed for the book.
We are still touring the puppet shows of both Hatched and Mortimer Revealed, but after 5 years of heavy and gruelling touring, Paula and I are ready to call it a day. I find it very hard running my garden and sustainable lifestyle when we are constantly leaving to go on the road, and it's harder for our son Jesse to maintain connections with his people when he has to disappear from their radar all the time. Touring, while it sounds glamourous, is stressful and very hard on my body. The puppets are heavy and performing with them gives us both a lot of back pain. This year Paula and I have tested the waters by scaling back our touring significantly, and it feels really good. We've had to make some pretty big cuts to our lifestyle to cope with the reduced income, but they feel worth it. I've had more time to do creative things (hence all my art study, which has been posted on this blog), and more time and energy to put into homeschooling Jesse.
Tomorrow, we head off on what is hopefully our very last performing tour ever: to New Zealand. (If we get an offer too good to refuse, down the track, or become too desperate financially, we might change our minds, but for now, this feels like the end of our touring lifestyle.)
Despite ending our lifestyle as touring performers, we still need to travel a lot for work, giving author talks at writers' festivals around Australia. Martha Grimstone travels with us, and when I give my talk she makes a small appearance. This kind of mini-performance is much easier for me, much less stressful, and I'm finding I'm really enjoying giving the talks and meeting readers of my books. So even if you haven't managed to see the theatre shows of Hatched and Mortimer Revealed, you can still meet Martha in the "flesh" if you come along to one of my author talks.