Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Hetty and the Yeti by Jules Burnett

Published: May 9th, 2014


When schoolgirl Hetty is magically transported to Tibet, high in the Himalayan Mountains, she comes face to face with the Giant Yeti! 

But is the Yeti really the terrifying beast of legend? Can Hetty prevent the colossal creature from causing chaos in the city centre? And what is the connection with Hetty and the ghostly lady that haunts the Himalayan Hills? 

Hetty embarks on a journey that will take her across the world, back in time and one that will change her life forever.

Hetty and the Yeti 

This book has created a sizeable ‘ass groove’ (as Homer Simpson called it) on my sofa. I sat, zombie like, for so long tapping away robotically on my laptop, that I must have clocked up hundreds of hours of work. It was mostly in the winter though when there wasn’t much else for me to do. But, as you can probably imagine, I’m glad it’s all over. 

But how did it start out? Well, years back, I decided to write a children’s story that my own kids could enjoy and I came up with the title of ‘Hetty and the Yeti’ before I had any real story. At that time my kids were at picture book level. But it took me so long to write it, with other things going on that before I knew it, they were onto reading middle grade stage books by then. 

I then decided to make the story a ‘King Kong for kids’ and one day, I just blurted out a story. The main events and plot came instantly, but on and off it took me a year to tweak and finalise, as I was still teaching full time. Because the yeti is a Tibetan legend, I had to research Tibetan folklore and Buddhist beliefs and also the wildlife of the Himalayas, where part of the story is set. I became interested in how golden eagles hunt their mountain marmot prey. 

In the early days the book was a straight forward adventure, but a friend advised me to inject some comedy into it. So I invented Minky the Mountain Marmot (the narrator) and unleashed the full force of my childish humour. Minky’s struggle with the eagle, ‘Aquila the killer’ became a sub plot to the main story. I had to rewrite the whole story though from Mink’s point of view, but this felt much more satisfying for me and I was happier with his voice as the narrator, which I felt was more appealing to kids of the target age group. 

I wanted to include some real Tibetan pearls of wisdom and so the chapter title pages contain actual proverbs, like ‘a child without education is like a bird without wings.’ Of course they had to be relevant to what was happening in each chapter, but I found that, as Tibetans had wise things to say about all aspects of life, it was easy to match up proverbs to what was happening in the story. 

I wanted the book to have an eastern look and I became heavily influenced by the style of ‘Samurai Jack,’ a Cartoon Network Classic cartoon. In fact I tried to imagine the story as a feature length cartoon, like the children’s film ‘Mulan’. I probably spent far too much time worrying about the look of the book, that if I ever write another one, I will let someone else illustrate it. It really was much more time consuming than the writing. 

By the time it came to publishing, I felt ambivalent about the book, because I had focussed on little else for so long. I had become too close to it having lived and breathed it for all that time. But after a break of a month or two, and now I’m outside enjoying the summer, I can look back with a certain amount of pride. 

And there’s a bank holiday coming up and new sofas are on special offer. 

About the author:
Jules loves old B movie monster films, the culture and art of Asia and childish humour, and decided to put them altogether when writing his new book, Hetty and the Yeti. This is the first book he has written for this age group. He has illustrated books in the UK and the USA. Jules has also worked as a teacher and for a wildlife organisation and would strongly advise anyone against working with either children or animals. 

He lives in the north east of England with his long-term girlfriend and their two children, whom he cruelly puts to work as his book reviewers, proof readers and general dog’s bodies.

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