Sunday 8 August 2010

‘Theft’ – The Very First Novel Adventure

How ‘Theft’ came to be published is a story in itself. At that time I was at home with two small children. I loved this time, letting the dust build up somewhat and writing when they were asleep. That was when I wrote Theft. It seemed a time of such freedom.

At that time I was a member of an association called The Federation of Children’s Book Groups which aimed to get more books into the hands of more children. This nationwide forum was lead by a very charismatic young woman called Anne Wood who lived in London but came from my home town and had been to my grammar school, although I’d never met her. One day she came North to visit her father and we had a little meeting in my house,  with other like minded people.  Towards the end of the meeting I mentioned that I’d just finished writing this children’s story called Theft. She asked if she could read it. I handed it to her, apologizing for the rather scruffy copy, as this was my only spare. I was pleased that anyone at all would take the trouble to read this, my first full length novel.

The next morning she rang me to tell me how much she liked it. I was so pleased, as Anne was so informed, so savvy in the field of children’s fiction. Then she continued. ‘So I think we’ll take it.’

We?’ I was puzzled.

‘Corgi Carousel. That’s Transworld.’ That was when she told me she’d just been appointed the first editor for Transworld’s new children’s imprint and had the power, there and then, to say ‘Yes.’ Magic.

Even more interesting than that, this was the Anne Wood who went on to set up an independent TV production company, ‘Ragdoll’ which produced, among other excellent programmes, Rosie and Jim, Tots TV, Teletubbies, and In the Night Garden. This was the Anne Wood who was listed as the third richest person in British broadcasting in 2001, with the value of her business estimated by Broadcast magazine to be £130m. Her charity, The Ragdoll Foundation went on to lead the field in imaginative philanthropy aimed towards children.

I met Anne when she was on the cusp of all this. I sometimes wonder if, like me, she ever got  ‘lines’ at school for reading at the dinner table.‘

This is an extract from ‘The Romancer’

an attempt to mesh together my life and my books.

* After Theft  there was a three year  novel haitus while I pursued my academic career. Still writing, though, I went on to write three more ‘young adult novels (for Hodder & Stoughton) before embarking on full time writing and long adult novels.

Posted by Wendy R at 11:10

Labels: Anne Wood, Theft, writing

Avril said...

The Romancer promises to be an extraordinary and fascinating book.
What a coup getting your first novel published in that way and how modest you were about your talent - great story Wendy.
A x

8 August 2010 12:18


  1. What a cool story! I need to read The Woman Who Drew buildings. It's on my list first.

  2. What a wonderful break. However, had the book not been first rate it probably would have been a whole different story.

  3. Just catching up with your recent posts, Wendy.

    That's a great story in itself - and an inspiration to the rest of us.

  4. Fascinating! You really have got the bit (or the pen) between your teeth now! Isn't it interesting how many writers begin by writing for children - Helen Dunmore being one of them. It's supposed to be the best training in how to create a story.



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