Oh yeah!!!!!! I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome today's guest to the blog as they celebrate the worldwide release of their STUNNING debut middle grade novel!
Growing up, Hannah’s biggest dream was to own a cat and be a writer and she’s happy to say she’s achieved both. Following a series of adventures in various different parts of the world, she settled in the south of Spain and lived very happily there for about ten years until her future husband came along and dragged her back to the UK. She now lives in Lincolnshire with her tortoise, her cat and said husband. Hannah is passionate about writing stories which share her love of the planet and when not writing, she’s busy looking for her next big animal story.
Say hello to Hannah here:
Imagine making friends with a polar bear… The Last Bear is perfect for readers of 8+, beautifully illustrated throughout by Levi Pinfold – winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and illustrator of Harry Potter 20th anniversary edition covers.
“This is an important first novel, important for us, for polar bears, for the planet. It is deeply moving, beautifully told, quite unforgettable.” Michael Morpurgo.
There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…
This moving story will win the hearts of children the world over and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. The Last Bear is a celebration of the love between a child and an animal, a battle cry for our world and an irresistible adventure with a heart as big as a bear’s.
The Last Bear, Hannah Gold with illustrations by Levi Pinfold, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books on 3rd of February in Australia & 18th February in the UK.
Order The Last Bear here:
UK – published 18th Feb.
Waterstones (signed copies available)
US – published 2nd Feb.
Barnes & Noble
Did you always dream of being a writer?
I actually can’t remember wanting to be anything different – except for a brief spell wanting to be a vet. But since I couldn’t bear the thought of having to put animals down, I decided to write about them instead – which is far less traumatic.
When did you start pursuing publication/querying agents?
I started my 1st book, a YA paranormal romance, back in 2006 and it took 6 years to write & many many rewrites! I sent it to about 10 agents – all of which said no. So, I ended up accepting an offer from a very small publisher (no advance, no publicity, no print-run even!) and although I was really proud of my book, that experience was ultimately quite disappointing for me. I don’t regret it, as it did give me many lessons and helped me decide that when I next got a book published, this one would change my life. I just didn’t realise it would take me another 8 years to get there!
My 2nd book, also YA, I sent out to about 20 agents. This was around 2017/2018. I got a handful of full manuscript requests and can distinctly remember thinking ‘this is it!’ Sadly, it wasn’t it as 3 out of 4 said no and the other one never got back to me. I was actually quite heartbroken and it took me well over a year, before I could face the page again.
When I did sit down to write I decided to switch to MG - the genre I had always dreamed of writing in. I opened up my heart and wrote about everything I loved most in the world – our beautiful planet, animals and in particular, the bond children have with them.
How long did it take from that first thought to release day?
When I was writing the book, I had a gut feeling it was special. For a start, It had come out almost complete and just seemed to have an energy to it that we, as creators, can instinctively recognise. So, when I submitted this time, I felt a lot more confident in myself and decided I would just go for it and submit to all the most established agents in the UK. It took ten weeks between first submitting and getting the offer from Claire Wilson.
And in terms of the publishing journey as a whole - it’s been remarkably swift! I started it in February 2019, signed with Claire 9 months later, and then, because the book didn’t need many edits, we went on sub within the month. I was lucky in that I got my deal very quickly and because of the timely ecological message of the book, it was scheduled in for publication 13 months after first meeting my publisher. So from 1st page to publication – exactly 2 years.
What's been the hardest part of publishing a book so far?
For me, the hardest part has been learning to juggle all of the demands of The Last Bear (the edits, the marketing, the social media commitments, as well as the high emotional points like my announcement or getting BOTM in The Bookseller Children’s Previews) whilst trying to come up with a first draft of a second book. I haven’t quite got the balance right yet but hope to do better in 2021.
And the easiest, or most enjoyable?
Getting that deal is like entering through a magical door into Narnia and there are so many new and wonderful things to discover and learn. There are so many individual highlights as everything that has happened has exceeded my expectations. But getting that Michael Morpurgo quote and seeing my beautiful cover are definitely the ones that caught in my throat.
What's next for you?
Enjoying the launch, seeing my Bear make his roar in the world, and taking everything that happens this year one step at a time. And remembering to celebrate!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers just started their pursuit of publication?
Don’t make the rejections mean anything more than what they are. They are not a reflection of who you are as a person and I know it’s hard, but try not to let them affect your self-esteem too much. Take each rejection as it comes and use them as means of information for what you need to do next to get closer to your yes.
Last book you just read?
The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery – AMAZING.
What book are you reading now?
Boy, Everywhere by A.M Dassau – incredibly touching.
Best book you've ever read?
Anything with an animal at its heart.
Michael Morpurgo – of course!
Best moment of your writing life?
Probably when my agent offered representation. It was something I’d longed for since my twenties and when it finally happened, I just knew it was the start of my next chapter.
Name of your newest WIP?
Untitled at the moment but affectionately referred to as Whale.
If not an author, what would be your dream job?
Probably living on some kind of tropical island looking after the hatching turtles.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!