I am thrilled to welcome author, Polly Ho-Yen to My Shelves Are Full with a fantastic piece about writing her latest book, How I Saved the World in a Week. A thrilling and adventurous book about Billy, a young boy who must remember all his mum taught him about survival. Scroll down for Polly’S guest piece!
How I Began Writing ‘How I Saved the World in a Week’
At the same time that I began writing How I Saved the World in a Week, my life was changing in a big way. I remember vividly where I was when I wrote the first paragraph of this book – in a tiny, bare study that felt as narrow as a corridor. My husband and I had just moved to Bristol, we had only just unpacked our boxes. We were in a rented house in a new city that didn’t feel like our home yet.
What I wrote that day is not where the story in the book now begins. But when I think back to its original beginning, I can clearly recall those first paragraphs, in the voice of my main character, Billy. I imagined that he was upstairs in a house that felt strange to him, too. He had just undergone a move. He was, in fact, in Bristol, like I was, and he hadn’t grown used to being there yet. He’d moved from another city too and he was in a room that was sparsely decorated. It was all fine and good perhaps from the outside but he was missing someone so much that nothing felt right. He was sensitive to all the changes in his new surroundings – the sounds of the house, the person he was living with now. One of my housemates climbed up the stairs in a run as I was writing and I wrote the sound of it into Billy’s world.
Billy, in How I Saved the World in a Week, is essentially finding his family and discovering what home means to him, in the midst of world-changing events. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was going to be doing the same as Billy, with him at my side. In the time that has passed since I wrote that first paragraph and am now leafing through the pages of the finished book, my husband and I found a home in South Bristol. We’ve planted a garden; the apple trees are just starting to bear fruit. We’ve also welcomed our daughter into the world who is just beginning to talk.
Unfortunately the world-changing events came to pass too as we continue to live through the covid-19 pandemic. But, like Billy in ‘How I Saved the World in a Week’, I’ve found that our connection with those around us is the most important thing to hold onto, whatever life throws at us.