Today I am delighted to welcome Matilda Woods to the blog with a special guest post as part of the blog tour for ‘The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker.’ It tells the tale of Alberto who lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly out of the sea and the houses shine like jewels. He is a coffin maker, spending his quiet,solitary days creating the final resting places of Allora’s people. That is until the day a mysterious boy and his magical bird arrive – fleeing from danger and in search of a safe haven…Tito is wary, fearful and suspicious of kindness, but as the winter days grow colder and darker, Alberto’s home grows warmer and brighter.Can Tito and his bird be sheltered from the town’s prying eyes and the shadows of their past?
Without further ado I will pass you over to Matilda to share with you what inspired her to write this beautiful story.
The Inspiration Behind the Story – Matilda Woods
The idea that led me to write THE BOY, THE BIRD AND THE COFFIN MAKER first came to me in March of 2014. The idea could not have come at a better time. I had just spent two years working on a book that I could not find an agent or publisher for. After receiving one hundred and forty rejections from agents and publishers across the world, I was considering giving up on writing completely. Then, one afternoon while I was out running with my dog, the idea came to me.
Lily: the dog I was running with when the idea for THE BOY, THE BIRD AND THE COFFIN MAKER first came to me.
The idea came in the form of a single image: two people sailing towards a new life in a coffin. The image was extremely vivid – I could see the coffin, the setting and the faces of the lead characters – and instantly it caught hold of my imagination. Who were these two people? Why were they in a coffin? And, where were they sailing to?
Over the next two weeks, I developed the story in my mind. I did not write anything down. Instead, I let the ideas flow through my head and the good ones seemed to stick. By the end of the first fortnight, I had created the central plot. It was a tale that spanned one year in the lives of two people: a frightened boy named Tito Bonito and a lonely old coffin maker named Alberto. Together, they dream of a future where they can both be free and then, with courage, set sail to find it.
As soon as I knew the central plot I began to write the story. It took two weeks to write the tale from beginning to end. There were a lot of problems with the first draft: problems with characterisation, pacing, setting and tone. Basically, problems with everything. So I rewrote the story and then rewrote it again. Usually, the ideas came very quickly: each idea led to another. However, there was one time when I did get stuck and didn’t know how to continue. I wasn’t stuck in terms of the plot, but rather the voice and tone of the novel. I knew it was set in Italy and also in the past so I decided to read the original version of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. This helped me find the voice I was looking for and the rest of the story came quickly.
Every time you write a story it is a gamble: you don’t know if it will be published or if it will not. For this story, I had a real sense, right from the beginning, that the gamble would not pay off. The odds were too far against my favour. The lead character was an old man. The story was set too far in the past. And it didn’t seem to match anything currently on the market. Yet despite these doubts I still wrote it. The image that came to me in March of 2014 refused to leave my mind. There was something special about it: something far more special than any other idea I had ever had. And so, I kept writing, kept reading, kept researching and kept sending out query after query. Now, over three years later, the image that appeared in my head has become a proper, published novel, and I am very glad I didn’t give up on it!
Matilda Woods lives in the Southern Tablelands of Australia,
where there are no flying fish, but there is the world’s largest
cement sheep. She currently lives with her four chickens, three
dogs, two cats and one bird. You can find her on Twitter @MatildaWrites
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more special guest posts and reviews.
Thank you to Matilda for sharing her special guest post on the blog and to Lorraine and Scholastic for sending me a copy of this beautiful book and inviting me to join in with the blog tour. ‘The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker’ is now available to buy online or from any good bookshop.