When award-winning author Richard Newsome tried his hand at a writing experiment, he never expected it would turn into a three-book deal – but perhaps the bigger surprise was the way that his new character, Stella McNaught, took on a life of her own.
Stella McNaught has a habit of getting inside your head. Between you, me and the fence post, she can be on the annoying side of persistent. Truth is, she just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Stella is 10 years old and she is the star in the telling of her own unstoppable adventures. And she won’t shut up.
Stella started as an experiment. Not in a Dr Frankenstein kind of way. A writing experiment. I had never written a character from the first-person perspective before. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to create a character who spoke directly to the reader, unhindered by authorly filters. No indirect discourse. No inferences or sly suggestions as to thought or motivation. It would be all laid out for the reader to see in its undiluted glory.
I may have blundered.
The thing with Stella is this: once you start writing her, that voice — her voice — gets stuck in your brain. And you are left listening to the pudding-headed observations of the world’s most hyper-confident 10-year-old. Which has its charms, to a point.
Writing first person has been a revelation. Never has a character in one of my stories revealed themselves so utterly to the reader, or to me. From a writer’s perspective, first-person forces you into the detail. Every utterance, every observation has to come from a point of clarity grounded in the character’s past. Never before have I needed to understand a character so fully in writing their story. Even if that character is an uber-assured 10-year-old girl who is staging a musical version of the book Farty-Bob McPoo Pants and the Flatulent Five. The author is forced to create a wholly-formed being and must understand precisely their response and reaction to any set of circumstances, no matter how ludicrous.
As a creative project, it has been a total delight. There are three books in the Stella series and they have been a joy to produce. Actually, there’s still a little work to do on the last one, and I can hear Stella calling…
Book one in Richard Newsome’s new junior fiction series, Stella the Unstoppable and the Talent Show Fiasco, is in stores now. Readers can expect book two in June 2019 and book three in October 2019.