Hugest welcome to Elizabeth Dale. A prolific children’s author, her latest book, Trailblazer: Lily Parr, the Unstoppable Star of Women’s Football – illustrated by Carolina Coroa, is based on the true story of English football player, Lily Parr.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I adore writing for children – the best job in the world! I’ve had 84 books accepted/published and my three daughters are children’s authors too.
Your latest book, Trailblazer, is hitting the shelves. Can you tell us how your it came to be?
When I heard that a statue was erected by the FA to Lily Parr last year, I wanted to find out her story. I was stunned to read about her amazing life, just how incredibly popular women’s football was a hundred years ago and the obstacles she and her team-mates had to overcome to pursue their footballing dream. I knew then it was a story I had to tell and that all children would hopefully want to read.
Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Female Footballers Follow Their Dream. (If I could have an extra two words I would put ‘Female Footballers Fight to Follow Their Dream!’)
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a bit of a workaholic – but simply because I love writing so much. I am usually working at my laptop by 7. And then I spend approximately eleven hours on and off, chasing up manuscripts, but most of all writing, whether it’s editing or writing something new! I try to fit in a walk or other exercise. However on sunny days I am out in the garden plotting and thinking up ideas. Bliss!
What makes you happy?
Writing! Getting a book accepted! Time with family, country walks, reading and holidays in the mountains or by the sea. Oh and it’s so, so wonderful to see children enjoying reading/listening to my books.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
Lampie by Annet Schaap, One by Sarah Crossan, A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson
What’s your worst habit?
Untidiness! In my writing it’s using too many !!!!s (see?!!)
Your favourite word(s)?
I love words that you can really put expression into – Incredible! Amazing! Catastrophe! I love using alliteration to combine words – as in my book The Carrot Cake Catastrophe. And early next year Maverick will be publishing Mix-up Monday!
What are your top tips for budding writers?
1.Read books in the genre you wish to write for to get a feel for what different publishers like to publish.
2.Write what you’d like to read.
3. Don’t worry about getting the words down right, just write away, let the story take you, getting words on the paper/screen is the most important thing to begin with. Then you can go back and…
4. Edit, edit, edit! Nothing is perfect first time.
5. Read your work out loud when you’ve finished writing. Hearing the words spoken really shows you what isn’t flowing quite right.
6. When you’ve finished a story, put it away for a few weeks, then come back to it with fresh eyes and edit again.
7.Persevere! Don’t be dejected by rejection or take it personally – rejection could simply mean that you just haven’t sent that editor what they’re looking for right now. Nothing gets accepted sitting in a drawer. All the best writers get rejected! It’s a badge of honour. Rejection is an opportunity to send your work to someone else.
8.Editors and agents are really busy. If they take time to comment on your work when rejecting it, then you’ve done really well and it’s worth noting what they say.
9. Being a writer is a fantastic but lonely job and can be a struggle at times. Try to link with fellow writers for mutual support. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is an incredible organization offering workshops and mutual support.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?
Yes – how many years it can sometimes take to get from the accepted manuscript to the published book. This wasn’t the case with Trailblazer, though, I’m delighted to say.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
It is a rhyming picture book about a little girl who is very envious of her new neighbour, Fred – but there’s something very important about Fred that she just doesn’t realise… (chocolate cake please- see below!)
Did we forget anything?
You’ve sent across a very comprehensive list, so I don’t think so… unless it’s what do I love writing most of all? – and that’s humour, whether it’s rhyming picture books or fiction. I also love it if my books have a subtle inspiring message or tackle a difficult theme in a positive way. Children have so many worries, especially now – it is so rewarding to me if my books can help ease those as well as entertain – and encourage children to enjoy reading – a wonderful habit that will stay with them all their lives.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Both! Tea first thing and coffee in the evening
Paper books or e-books? Paper books- definitely!
Cake or chocolate? Oh what an impossible choice! Both – but if you want one – chocolate cake!
Write or type? type
Poetry or prose? Poetry for a picture book, but for my own personal reading – prose
Hot or cold? Warm! Not too hot, a hot day in the shade is just perfect!