Write a book in 30 days, Neil. Huh? OK, then… and The Last Scarecrow was born.
Writing a book in a month is not for the faint hearted, but this was the task I gave myself at the end of July. It’s gone fairly well. ‘The Last Scarecrow‘ is 55,000 words in total so it’s a little on the short side but it’s a first draft of a book, nonetheless.
I’d been kicking around the idea of a story that had a little or no human characters in it. There is something far more magical and captiviating about animals and imaginary creatures, monsters and supernatural beings that feature in novels. Philip Pullman‘s Daemon’s, Abi Elphinstone‘s league of masked villians & the droids R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 from Stars Wars spring to mind. I’d also been churning the idea of an apocalyptic / global disaster story in my mind and felt that these two ideas would work well together.
Death and Misery
‘The Last Scarecrow’ (or perhaps ‘The Endless Blue’) is a dark book, scary and disturbing in places. There are scenes that might be a little troubling for the age range I’m written for (9-12+) but we’ll see. Children are pretty resilient to tales of death and horror, perhaps moreso than some adults. Take Roald Dahl‘s ‘The BFG’. The amount of human beans betting gobbled up, eaten or having their bones crunched by the Fleshlumpeater or the Bloodbottler or one of the other Giants is staggering. And let’s not get started on the amount of disturbing scenes and sadness in Harry Potter.
Predominately, ‘The Last Scarecrow’ is about the end of the world. Humanity is all but extinct. A scarecrow, who goes by the name Twelve, opens her eyes in the wake of a storm that has lasted for many years. She climbs down from her cross and surveys the world around her. The sky is pale prey, not a cloud in sight. A bleached sun hangs low on the horizon. Surrounding the small island where Twelve stands, is a flat, grey ocean, still and calm. There is a farmhouse on the island and, hiding in one of the barns, is a wild young girl called Erin. Together they build a boat and leave the island in search of food, adventure and the eleven other scarecrows (Twelve’s sisters) that once inhabited the farm…
I’ve put it aside for a few weeks while I edit The Boy in the Crimson Scarf and plot a new book series about Shapeshifters / Changelings. I’ll post a little extract from ‘The Last Scarecrow’ soon.