The Middler – Kirsty Applebaum

I am delighted to welcome Kirsty Applebaum to the blog today with a special guest post to celebrate the publication of her thrilling, dystopian debut, ‘The Middler.’ Maggie lives in Fennis Wick, forbidden from crossing the boundary because of the dangers that lie in wait from those who would dare to disobey the rules. Born a middle child in a society that only values the eldest child Maggie struggles to find her place in the world. When her brother Jed is sent to fight in the Quiet War, Maggie feels even more unsettled.  A chance encounter with Una, a hungry wanderer exposes her to some uncomfortable truths. This is a compelling and uncomfortable tale of forbidden, friendship, loyalty and betrayal that will hold it’s grip on you to the very last page. Brilliantly told, full of twists and turns this tale is a feast for your imagination with it’s highly believable dystopian world. Superb characterisation meets intriguing storytelling, a truly exciting debut from Kirsty. She is definitely one to watch for in the future, a real rising star in the middle grade world.

My Writing Journey – Kirsty Applebaum

The Middler tells the story of 11-year-old Maggie, a middle child living in an isolated community where only the eldest children are special.

Maggie lacks confidence and feels that other people are more important than her. Unable to take brave, assertive action at the beginning of the book, she starts small, helping someone in need. Gradually her deeds become bigger and braver – and by the end of the book she has changed her life.

When I was young, I didn’t dream of being a writer. I lacked confidence, just like Maggie. I did write, though. And I started small.

At primary school, I made up short stories about a witch called Witch Mabel. She rode a motorbike instead of a broomstick.

At secondary school, I wrote poetry and songs. One song was for a science competition. My friends and I made a recording and were invited to perform at a regional event.

It was only when I had my own children that I thought I’d like to write more seriously. We loved reading rhyming poems together, such as Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales – and I began to write poems like this too. One was about a boy called James Sebastian McFlue, who hatches a plan to persuade Santa to leave him extra presents.

I took courses: a local creative writing class; an Arvon course; and then the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People. By the end of the MA I had written The Middler. Nancy Miles, my lovely agent, contacted me after reading the opening chapters in the MA anthology, and together we found a wonderful publisher in Nosy Crow.

It hasn’t been easy though! I have:

– sobbed at the Winchester Writers’ Festival

– thrashed about with different genres and age ranges

– received many rejection letters

– wondered why on earth I was doing this to myself

– been told (quite rightly) that early drafts of my writing were boring/unsellable/heading in completely the wrong direction.

But, just like Maggie, I started small and kept going. Gradually my confidence grew and my writing became bigger and braver and better. Now my first book is being published, and I’ve changed my life.

Thank you to Kirsty for this insightful blog post, which will provide inspiration to all those inspiring writers out there.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews.

Thank you to Clare and Nosy Crow for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. ‘The Middler,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

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