It’s publication day for the first book in the Secret Beast Club series, The Unicorns of Silver Street, illustrated by Jobe Anderson. I’m EXTRA excited for this series created by Storymix, because I wrote these books under the pen name Robin Birch. This series has been a real collaboration and I’m delighted to be sharing an interview with my Storymix editor, Clare Whitston to explain more about how this wonderful series came to be. But first, it’s time for you to join the club, and find the magic!
Our world is full of magical spaces, hidden from sight by Bewilder Bubbles where all kinds of amazing Secret Beasts live. The Secret Beast Club make sure the Bewilder Bubbles remain invisible and the creatures within are kept safe. But they need new recruits! Aisha and Jayden are definitely not fans of Outside. Aisha would rather be home playing on her tablet or messaging her friends. Jayden thinks the worlds inside his books are much more exciting than the real one beyond his window. But when they are asked to join the Secret Beast Club, a centuries-old secret group that protects mythological creatures, Aisha and Jayden discover that real magic could be closer than they think…
And so, here is Clare to reveal how this series was created…
Hi Clare! Please can you tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
I have almost 20 years’ experience in the children’s books publishing industry, and in 2021 I struck out on my own as a freelance editor. Now I work with a variety of publishers on fiction, non-fiction and picture books, working with authors on structural edits and editorial development, and running creative sessions in house. I also create storylines for Storymix, and edit some of their brilliant authors and illustrators. I am also a mentor for All Stories and work with the Golden Egg Academy, mentoring their students and teaching on two of their courses, teaching writing fiction and picture books for children.
When did you first hear about Secret Beast Club and what did you think of the project?
I had just started my freelance career and Jasmine Richards, founder of Storymix, asked if I wanted to be involved in a new series in development called the Secret Beast Club. Magical creatures? In urban settings? Adventure and badges to collect?! ‘I’m in,’ I said!
What was your role within the project?
I write the storylines and then edit the manuscript. I do this in collaboration with Storymix, the writer and the publisher. Storymix projects really are an amazing collaborative effort and everyone brings their creativity and skill together to create these amazing books.
After an initial creative meeting with the Storymix team where we discuss story ideas, it’s my job to craft those ideas into a broad outline and then a more detailed breakdown of how the story will work, chapter by chapter. Once the publisher has approved the storyline, I share it with the writer and sit back while they work their magic! After that, I edit at first and second draft stage, combining feedback from the publisher with the my own and any feedback from the Storymix team. Once the final manuscript has been handed to the publisher, I liaise with them on copy edits, illustrations and layouts.
What has been your favourite part of working on the Secret Beast Club series?
I love it when we have a really strong idea and the storyline just flows. I especially enjoyed writing the storyline for book 2 which is set in Birmingham and close(ish) to where I grew up in Wolverhampton. Rachael and I had a great conversation about the young dragon character in that book, and I think she did an amazing job of really bringing that character to life, so I would have to say that another highlight would be seeing what the writer does with a storyline and the magical way they elevate it with their authorial skill and panache!
If you could meet any magical creature what would it be?
GOOD QUESTION! I don’t think this magical creature currently exists in folklore, but I think I would want to meet a giant Panda with wings. I could snuggle up to it to keep warm and nestle in its fur while it carried me around. It could also fly me (very gently) to the places I wanted to go. (can you tell I am quite cold working from home!)
Thank you so much Clare!
Secret Beast Club: The Unicorns of Silver Street was published by Puffin, 16 February 2023
Keep watch for Secret Beast Club Book 2: The Dragons of Emerald Yard out 6 July 2023!
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