The Third Pig Detective Agency
Several months ago, when I wrote a column about social networking resources for writers, I had help from one such author. My friend Bob Burke writes children’s fiction and he’s given me a real insight into the world of the aspiring novelist.
It’s no surprise that it’s an ideal building ground for an online social network. The best site Bob has found is supported by the Arts Council of England and it’s called YouWriteOn.Com.
Described as “X-Factor for books”, the homepage explains:
The YouWriteOn premise is simple: you review and rate another members opening chapters or short story and then your opening chapters are sent randomly to another member to review and rate.
Top rated chapters are referred for consideration to affiliated leading literary agencies including The Christopher Little Literary Agency and Curtis Brown, whose authors include J.K. Rowling, Ed McBain, David Lodge and Margaret Atwood.
As Bob explains it, members contribute reviews of each others work and, in so doing, make their own work eligible for review. The real value is the opportunity of professional feedback from experts such as Michael Legat, who reviewed Bob’s chapters after his peers had voted them to the top of the monthly chart.
Bob’s submission to YouWriteOn.Com is a story for pre-teens which recounts the continuing adventures of the clever hero of “The Three Little Pigs”. What happens after “happily ever after”? How does a clever pig make a living in day-to-day Grimmtown?
It was another slow day in the office. Actually, it had been a slow week in the office. No, if the truth be known, it had been a lousy month for the Third Pig Detective Agency. That’s me by the way: Harry Pigg, the Third Pig. Where did the name come from? Well, I was the pig that built the house out of bricks while my idiot brothers took the easy route and went for cowboy builders and cheap materials. Let me tell you, wood and straw ain’t much use when Mr. Wolf comes calling. Those guys were pork-chop as soon as he drew in his first breath and filled those giant lungs of his. Blow your house down, indeed.
And while we’re on the subject, don’t believe those heavily edited stories you read about in children’s books of Fairy Tales saying how the wolf fell down the chimney, into the pot, scalded his tail, ran out of the house and was never seen again. When that wolf came down my chimney and into that boiling pot, I screwed the lid on and made sure it stayed on by weighing it down with a few spare bricks (never throw anything away, you never know when it could come in useful). He didn’t do too much huffing and puffing then.
“Little pig, little pig, let me come out,” he begged in a scared whimper.
“Not by the hair on my…” I began but then gave up. I just couldn’t come up with something clever to rhyme with ‘I won’t let you out’ so I just left it.
By the time the pot went quiet and I opened it again all that was left was some scummy hair floating on the surface and a lot of bones. The Little Dog sure laughed a lot that day. He hadn’t seen that many broken bones since the cow’s first attempt to jump over the moon and they kept him in three square meals a day for over a week. I’m generous like that – waste not, want not.
After that I was kind of a cult hero. Apart from that Red-Riding Hood dame, no one else had ever come out on top in a skirmish with the Wolf family so I became a celebrity. After the usual civic receptions and TV appearances, I decided to capitalise on my newfound fame and become a detective. Well, why not? Someone needs to do it and there’s always an opening for a good detective.
The first three chapters of the completed manuscript are available online at YouWriteOn.Com and in February it placed third for children’s fiction in that site’s Book Of The Year competition. Bob has had a lot of interest from literary agents in Britain and the US and he’s busy working on a children’s horror novel. Apparently it’s a hugely popular genre and, while my kids are most definitely still at the “happily ever after” stage, Bob’s eldest son recently criticised one of his dad’s chapters for not being “icky” enough!
Bob and I are talking about podcasting The Third Pig Detective Agency, and meanwhile his porcine protagonist has gone and started a blog. (Why not? Everyone else is doing it!) thirdpig.wordpress.com