WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
Well in truth, I didn't! I went to Bristol University here in England to study Veterinary Medicine and I qualified as a Vet from there in 1999. I then worked in practice for 10 years and at that point our second daughter was born. My husband was travelling overseas quite a lot with work then and so I decided to take a career break to stay at home and raise our very young girls.
Within 6 months of being at home, 'Posie Pixie', the main character in my first 7 Whimsy Wood books, appeared in my head and she wouldn't go away. She's terribly persistent you see! So I really had no other choice but to start writing about her exciting adventures in Whimsy Wood.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I always wanted to be a mum. That was an absolutely definite aspiration of mine and I am now very fortunate to have 3 happy, healthy children. Olivia, aged 8, Poppy, aged 6 and Monty aged 3 years old.
I remember considering journalism, but then I opted to study to be a Vet because of my passion for animals.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
Well, each of the 35 books in my Whimsy Wood Series for 5-8 year olds is written for a specific month in the calendar, so the flora and fauna change as you read through the series. Book 1, Posie Pixie And The Copper Kettle, happened to be written for the month of August, which meant that book 4, Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party, would be written for the autumnal month of November.
Instantly fireworks and bonfire night sprung to mind, when I was contemplating a storyline for book 4. These thoughts were very quickly followed by the tasty treats that often accompany bonfire night, such as toasted marshmallows in all their gooey, stickiness and very soon I was considering a fireworks party!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
My favourite line from Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party is:-
' "Fizzling Fireworks!" exclaimed Posie as she saw the pretty firefly lights twinkling in the trees, the tablecloth laden with party treats and her guests all smiling at her! '
I love this because Posie has been struggling away, trying to organise a surprise party for her cousin Ping who has invented a brand new firework. Unbeknown to Posie, her best friend 'Wibble Woodlouse', has roped in all their friends to help Posie out with the work that needed doing, to ensure the fireworks party is a great success. Not only has Posie been organising a surprise party for her cousin, but she has a surprise all of her own with this extra help from her friends!
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Posie Pixie is most like me because she is very determined, even though she is a small wee creature. She also isn't very good at asking for help, rather like myself. Finally, I asked my children why Posie Pixie and I are similar and they replied, "Because you're fun just like Posie!"
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
The proverb that is woven into this November story is, 'Many hands make light work'. I hope that readers will realise how important and fun team work is and how rewarding doing something for someone else can be.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Books 1-9 in my Whimsy Wood Series have been published to date and all by Abela Publishing based in Sandhurst, England. These Whimsy Wood titles are:-
TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
Shortly after the release of my 3rd Whimsy Wood children's book, titled Posie Pixie And The Torn Tunic, I received an absolutely amazing review from an online parenting magazine based in the South West of England called Chopsy Baby. This review was, "Think of the best bits from Enid Blyton's fantastical stories for very young children." Well, I was overjoyed to read this! To be likened to Enid Blyton was phenomenal! So I squealed with delight and jumped up and down for joy......only, I happened to be too near our dining table and as I leapt up in the air, I whacked my knee on the underside of this rather large and hard table! "Ooooww!" I shouted, whilst my 3 children (who had witnessed their lunatic mummy squealing, jumping and then causing herself an injury!) were laughing hysterically!
When I tell my children that another brilliant review for my Whimsy Wood Series has come in, they'll say, " Will it be another 'Yes! Yes! Yes! Bang! Ooooww!' " kind of review mum?!"
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I remember loving Enid Blyton's 'Faraway Tree' collection and Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge series as a child, so I would say that they are the authors who have influenced my writing style the most.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
This would probably be Salmen Rushdie's Haroun And The Sea Of Stories. For me, this book is the most imaginative and wonderfully written children's book around. I remember being blown away by its psychedelic storyline and wanting to read it all over again as soon as I had finished it.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
It would definitely be Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party winning the Chapter Book category in this year's Children's Literary Classics Book Awards.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
No I don't have any specific writing rituals. However I do have to be very disciplined with my writing time with having 3 young children and I tend to write when they are in school and nursery, or when they are in bed at night.
If my writing isn't flowing, rather than wasting the time I have set aside to write, I will research what wildlife would be out and about in a woodland for the particular month I am writing for. This will often help my writing to flow again, or I will have gained and written down a few more ideas, ready for the next time I sit down and write.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
Once I'd started writing about Posie Pixie, Fearne Fairy and the other Whimsy Wood characters, I discovered just how much I loved getting lost in my own imagination. So I started submitting my manuscripts to various literary agents and publishing houses.
After 3 years of writing, editing, submitting, getting rejected, picking myself up again and then writing, editing and submitting some more, I finally received my author's contract with Abela Publishing in January 2013. Posie Pixie And The Copper Kettle, book 1 in my Whimsy Wood series, was published in July 2013.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
When I'd completed Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party, I punched the air in triumph whilst shouting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" to myself! I then moonwalked (rather badly I'm afraid!) across the floor!
We celebrated the publication of Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party back in 2014, by holding a book launch for it at the WHSmith bookshop in Bath, which is the nearest city (and my most favourite!) to where I live.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
I opted for the path to traditional publication so I can comment on this from my own experience. For me, this journey was an emotional roller coaster, filled with uncertainty and the need for utter determination and dedication. Expect to be rejected. This is part of the process. Don't be disheartened, do not give up and listen to constructive criticism.
The bottom line is that you must believe 110% in the series, characters and stories that you have created. If you don't, who else will?
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Use all social media sites that you are familiar and comfortable with to help promote your book. AskDavid.com is a very good and reasonable website for book promotion. Finally, the National Writing for Children Centre in America will showcase your latest book and help you carry out a virtual book tour to aid promotion. This I used to help promote book 9, Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar: For more whimsical information, please follow the Whimsy Wood children's series and connect with its author Sarah Hill at the official Whimsy Wood Website .
You may also find Whimsy Wood updates at the following sites: