Huge welcome to Lucy Rowland, picture book author (Gecko's Echo) to My Book Corner
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
Children’s author and Speech and Language Therapist. I write pretty much exclusively in rhyme. A big fan of travel, day dreaming, poetry and picture books!
What makes you happy?
Travelling makes me happy- seeing new places, experiencing new things and meeting people who have different ways of seeing the world. But I also love to be at home with family and friends. Christmas makes me happy and so do walks along the cliffs in Cornwall, especially on a cold windy day. Getting really stuck in to a new writing project always makes me smile, as does seeing the characters/illustrations for one of my texts for the first time!
Where is your favourite place to write?
Probably at my kitchen table in my flat- that’s not very exciting, I realise, but my flat is my calm space and it’s quiet and peaceful and I find that I can focus quite well there. Having said that, I wrote Gecko’s Echo in a hammock in Bali and I wrote The Birthday Invitation on the bus during my commute to work! I find that if I’m really into a story I can write anywhere. The only trouble is I often read my work out loud which can look a bit strange!
What's on your TBR pile at the moment? I think next I’d like to read the whole Hairy Maclary set by Lynley Dodd.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
When I was a waitress someone asked me ‘Please can I have a cork?’ which isn’t that unusual because sometimes people liked to take their unfinished bottle of wine home with them. The problem was that when I presented the customer with a ‘cork’ she looked at me very strangely. Turned out she was Northern and wanted a ‘Coke’. Oops!
What's your worst habit? I’m a huge worrier.
Your favourite word(s)? ‘Pepper’- I just love the sound of it. One day I’d like a Dalmatian called Pepper.
2017 sees the release of your first two picture books (CONGRATULATIONS!), how was your road to publication?
(Thank you, Emma! I think 4 picture books are due out this year in total but the first 3 in April and May. ) I started writing in late 2012. I wrote something really long that was supposed to be a way of teaching English sayings and idioms in context. I showed it to an illustrator-friend of mine and she showed it to her editor who basically said ‘This is far too long and far too educational for us. We wouldn’t publish something like this’ but she praised my use of rhyme and rhythm and suggested I tried writing picture books…so I did. I think I was quite lucky that, just as I submitted my work to different agents, I left England on a 10 month sabbatical/ travelling trip so the ‘checking my emails all the time and waiting for responses’ bit didn’t feel quite so painful. (Though I have done a lot of that since!) I’d just written Gecko’s Echo in Indonesia when Anne Clark (of Anne Clark Literary Agency) offered to represent me. It was just so exciting! Unfortunately, sitting in that internet café, I realised I didn’t understand anything about legal contracts so when I met a Dutch lawyer (who specialized in Intellectual Property!!) at a meditation retreat, it felt like it was meant to be! Contracts were signed and scanned (when Island electricity-generators allowed) and by the time I met Anne 6 months later, we had our first contract with Bloomsbury.
What are your top tips for budding writers?
I don’t think my advice will be particularly new but… Read a lot! And when you find a book you love, ask yourself why do you love it? What made it so special? What was it about the story that particularly drew you in? People often say ‘Write a lot’ which I agree with to some extent but, for me, having time off from writing, time to just think and day dream is hugely important too. Make use of twitter- I’ve learnt a lot from reading articles and blogs on line.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake & biscuits!)
I’m doing some books with Macmillan which are twists on traditional tales so today I was working on a new one of those. I’ve not yet shown the text to my editor so who knows if it will go anywhere but it’s an idea we discussed last year. It was actually my sister’s suggestion! I like to run my stories past her- she works with children too and often has great ideas about how I can improve plots.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea- preferably mint
Paper books or e-books? Paper- particularly for picture books (although I love my kindle when I travel)
Cake or chocolate? That’s a tough one! Probably chocolate? …or cake?...No, chocolate.
Write or type? Type- I used to write with pen and paper but I’ve moved to typing…plus that way I can quickly access RhymeZone- an incredibly helpful rhyming dictionary!
Poetry or prose? Always always poetry!
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin? You know, I’ve only read the first Harry Potter book. (shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!)
Hot or cold? Cold- (but with a nice cosy fire!)
Thanks Lucy, you can read My Book Corner's review of Lucy's inaugural picture book, Gecko's Echo, here.