Iseult: Hi Lindsay, welcome to my blog. I’m so excited about the release of your new book, Wulfie Saves the Planet. I’ve been jumping into old trunks, looking for a way to Lupuslandia so I can get my own wulfen best friend, ever since I read your first Wulfie book.
I know you are really busy, so I’m very grateful that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today.
You wrote Wulfie for your daughter, Libby. Does she have a say in fictional Libby’s adventures?
Lindsay: Not really in the books, but definitely at the start! She was five or six and I was feeling guilty for not creating stories directly for her – so I’d sit on the bed and try to make up stuff at bed time. She longed for a best friend and was bullied at school, so this was my way of making one for her – and she definitely had input because she is a very imaginative person.
Once Wulfie appeared, all purple – like her walls – and willing to eat bullies for her, we both had so much fun. But if I was really tired – I was working full time teaching screenwriting and finishing a feature film that was filmed the following year, as well as lots of other stuff – I’d ask her to throw me three words and I’d make a Wulfie story up out of them.
My daughter Libby now 22 and my (step-) granddaughter is loving them!
Iseult: That’s is lovely! I wish I had Wulfie as a friend when I was bullied in school.
Will we see Libby visiting Lupuslandia with Wulfie in future books?
Lindsay: I have mapped out several stories involving characters following Wulfie through the portal, but I don’t think Libby will go there. As Wulfie says – in book 3, Wulfie Saves the Planet – since Libby would be prey to the wulfens living there, it might not be the cleverest idea.
Although, she could possibly go disguised as a wulfen, perhaps, or if Wulfie ever inherited the throne – he comes from a royal family, even if they didn’t like him very much because he’s purple and prefers playing to fighting – he could perhaps change the rules and make Lupuslandia a place she could safely go.
Iseult: I’d love to see Lupuslandia. I better pack some weapons for when I find the portal. I don’t want to travel through a wulfen’s very interesting digestive system.
Your background is in scriptwriting, and you are the creator of the award winning animated series, Punky. When are we going to have a Wulfie cartoon and tie in cuddly toys? (I really want a wulfen).
Lindsay: Oh I want one too! A writer and teddy-maker I know once promised to make me one but it never happened!
As for the animation series, I really hope so. The characters and the world are now fully developed through the book series, but I still have boxes and files of stories that never made it into the books and that are more suitable to animation. I did develop a series out of the characters a decade ago, but because the books weren’t there, it was quite a different set of stories – albeit with the same heart and themes and full of mischief. In animation, characters don’t tend to change and grow and I wanted that for both Libby and Wulfie. I have learnt so much through the process of writing a series of books that I would dearly love to develop a TV series around Wulfie and Libby; it might be animation, might be a hybrid of live action and animation…
Iseult: I would love a companion series to the books, and Wulfie cuddly toys would be best sellers.
I read that your grandfather joined the navy at 13. This sounds like a wonderful story seed. Have you any plans to write a book inspired by his life?
Lindsay: He is popping up in a book I’m working on, SnapShots which is all about stories and memories, and whether it’s more important to tell a story than to stick to the truth when it comes to remembering people… My mother told me stories about her family and her father as a child but would never let me write them down. It was only when my brother did a family history that it emerged that there was either no confirmation for many of them or that they were romantically elaborated.
But those people came alive for me through her stories in a way that they wouldn’t if I’d only had the facts. My grandfather Jack is the one ancestor I really felt connected to all my life – he’d travelled the world, he wrote my mother a story when she was a child – she kept it all her life – and was a great reader, but then got some sort of illness that restricted him more and more each year and he died before I was born.
But, for now, Zebediah F Flanagan, Libby’s great-great grandfather is definitely a salute to him.
Iseult: That’s lovely, and SnapShots sounds really interesting.
The Wulfie series is published by Little Island books, but you have previously independently published two young adult books, as well as several plays and a book on screenwriting. What advice would you give to writers interested in pursuing trad or indie publishing?
Lindsay: The marketing is the tough part. I loved the freedom of being able to publish – and it’s not that tricky really, but you need to be professional about it. Get someone to format your book properly so that it looks professional – It’s worth the investment. (Don’t cram the pages with text, edit ruthlessly!) Get it read by as many people you can before you publish and choose your cover well. I used Polgarus Studio for formatting and freelance editors, but beta-readers are brilliant – they’ll find stuff you didn’t notice because you do get too close to your story.
My first book, Dad’s Red Dress, 2017 had nearly been picked up – it had been passed up the chain of command at a huge traditional publisher but then the US ‘owner’ decided it wasn’t edgy enough – Irish publishers had deemed it too edgy. That was what made me decide to go indie. Then what held me back was the cover – I didn’t know what to ask for. Luckily I mentioned this to a friend. Her daughter had just finished graphic design (Aoife Henkes), liked the book and wanted to give it a go – and it was perfect.
But it’s a full time job trying to get a book in front of people, across social media, into libraries etc and that’s what I found impossible to sustain. You need to be creative but also to control the time you put into it. Some writers put a day a week aside, others focus on the marketing ahead of publication for a period after each draft so that it is ready to roll out when the book is published.
If it’s a series, I’d have the second book at draft stage before you publish the first. And it’s easier if you write in a genre – my novels are general novels but because the main characters are 13 and 14 (The Angelica Touch, 2018), they were presumed to be YA although enjoyed by readers from 10 to 80! I ended up describing them as YA because it was easier to pitch them.
My screenwriting book – Write That Script, 2018 – was far easier to market for that reason. But still, if you don’t keep marketing it, they don’t sell and I love that this job isn’t entirely down to me anymore. Working with Little Island has been a joy.
But if I hadn’t gone the indie route, Dad’s Red Dress wouldn’t have been read by a child who told her producer mum she had to make it for TV. It has been optioned now, we got development money from Creative Europe and the Irish WrapFund and I’m adapting it into a 10 part TV series!
Iseult: That’s fantastic advice, thank you! Congratulations on Dad’s Red Dress. That’s very exciting!
What are you currently working on? Any sneak reveals of what to expect in the next Wulfie book?
Lindsay: Priority right now the fourth book: Wulfie: A Haunting Tail.- and the title probably gives you a clue as the content! It will come out in March 2022 and the copyedit is on my computer waiting for my attention when I finish this!
There’s a bit more of Zebediah in it, and some paranormal investigators, which was fun and I have to say every time I read it, I enjoy it more! It’s the last of the series for the moment, so all my other Wulfie ideas have been put aside. Next to focus on is the TV series alongside SnapShots, but I’m also developing another series of books for the same age group as Wulfie and it’s called (for the moment) Travels By Toe.
Iseult: Wulfie and paranormal investigators? I can’t wait!
Thank you, Lindsay. It has been wonderful talking with you.
Wulfie Saves the Planet, the third book in the fun Wulfie series, is only €8 from Little Island Books.