The God of all Small Boys is a the story of eleven year old James. It is 1917 and when his father goes away to war James is sent to live with his relatives in Dundee. At first it is a shock; the house is noisy and full, he has to share a bed with his cousins and even use an outside loo. His cousin Billy is mean at first; calling him posh and ignoring him in the playground but when James stands up to the playground bully Billy and his friends accept him as one of their own. With good friends and a great den to play in, the summer seems to last forever; until the realities of war intrude into the young boys' lives. Joseph Lamb has written a wonderful book about the joy and wonder of childhood, the hardship of poverty and war and the pain of loss. I raced through this book and found it utterly enchanting. The God of all Small Boys is published by Pokey Hat, an imprint of Cranachan Publishing. Thanks so much to Kelly at Cranachan who sent me a copy to review. I asked Joseph Lamb about his writing journey
* Joseph Lamb on his journey to getting published*
If ever there was an example of how frustrating, and annoying and ultimately rewarding this writing lark is, I suppose this is it.
(Turns clock back to 1974) I used to write things all the time. I was reading almost before I could speak properly, and was always surrounded with books and magazines while growing up. My Primary Teacher (Mr Gudmunsen) was a great support in my silly little scribblings - but, when I moved to secondary school and became more interested in Science Fiction (my Father and I LOVED Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and others) I began to write more along those lines. Then, in 1977, as I entered Second Year, a little movie called Star Wars came out. And my writing became almost solely Sci-Fi based. One day, in a school essay, a teacher wrote “You have the makings of a decent writer... if you could get your head out of the clouds.”
That single line devastated me. And I hardly wrote another word for years. I began work on a novel in 1984, which I had written the bones of, and only had to ‘stitch it all together’ - which meant, it sat in a box for over 20 years.
‘Real life’ got in the way.
And then, the internet became a thing...
I ENVY writers coming up in this day and age. When I was younger there was nowhere to get the kind of instant feedback and support that the net can provide. Publishing was something that seemed secretive and unknown to the ‘man in the street’ – I.E. someone like myself, who hadn’t the first idea of what to do to become published. Which is why I turned away from solely writing and instead moved towards drama and acting/directing/writing for a living!
But – in 2009, a friend of mine mentioned Nanowrimo to me, (if you don’t know it - look it up) and that was enough for me to dig out “the box” and my old ‘word-processor’ floppy disks (which I was lucky enough to find a PC reader for!) and my first attempt at a novel was finally finished. It was rough, unpolished and very, VERY adult in content, but, thanks to Nanowrimo, I was able to see it up for sale on Amazon. (Maybe one day I’ll finish it properly...)
Then, along came The Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize.
I began writing the novel ‘The God of All Small Boys’, based on a short story of mine of the same name, in December 2014. And to my huge surprise and delight it was one of only three shortlisted for the prize. (The other two being John K. Fulton and Lindsay Littleson - both of whom have also been published by Cranachan Books!)
To me, the shortlisting was a justification, that perhaps I could be legitimately published. And through various Facebook pages and websites I began to learn more about how ‘modern’ publishing works. I was determined that, if at all possible, and I were ever to find a publisher, it’d prefer it to be a Scottish one.
And one day, I found a website called Cranachan... which had a big banner on it stating that they would be opening for business “soon...”
I watched that site until it finally opened for submissions and I sent TGoASB off... and after a couple of years of back and forth and a TON of revision and editing work - the rest, as they say, is Historical Fiction!
Cranachan have been responsible for my first real steps on this path... and I’d certainly like to hope it’s their road I continue along.