Elaine Forrestal

Graffiti is still with us

Cover of Graffiti on the Fence by Elaine Forrestal

With so much focus on the new book, To See the World, it is easy to overlook the others, but for the last two weeks I’ve been answering emails from students about Graffiti on the Fence. The students have been reading it in class and now they are writing a biography – of me.

Although Graffiti on the Fence was shortlisted, in the Younger Readers category, for the CBC Book of the Year Awards it has always played second fiddle to its predecessor, Someone Like Me. It is good to see it coming into its own and even rising above its better known sibling, fifteen years after it was originally published. Of course the print copies have all been sold now, but it is obviously still available in libraries. I am in the process of putting the eBook version up on the internet in response to the new flood of requests for copies. As part of the conversion process I needed to re-read the whole book, which is something I never do once it is published. I do a huge number of drafts and a lot of editing and checking during the writing process, but I know that, if I read it again, there is bound to be something I will still want to tweak. There are always bits that are difficult to get right. Sometimes I work and re-work them until I find, after five or six re-drafts, that I have changed that sentence back to what it was in the beginning! At that point I know it is time to step back and hand the manuscript over to someone else. Someone with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’.

As you can imagine I am always a bit nervous when it comes to the conversion stage of an eBook. But in this case I was pleasantly surprised. Graffiti on the Fence is one of those rare books that seemed to write itself. It is set in a street very like ours, in a house very like ours with a dog who, although he doesn’t look like ours has a similar personality. And the action was happening around me as I wrote. We live at the bottom of a hill and the sloping footpath is skateboard heaven! Every time the kids who ride their boards down past our house after school have grown up and moved on, a new generation of skateboarders and scooter riders has taken their place.

Good to know that some things don’t change much, and that the story of Graffiti on the Fence is still relevant today.