A wonderfully warm My Book Corner welcome to Emily Dodd. Emily is a writer, science communicator and educator based in Edinburgh. She’s a screenwriter for CBeebies Nina and The Neurons, writes picture books for children age 3-6 years AND nonfiction science books for adults and children.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I write science nonfiction books, story books and television for children. And sometimes I write for museums or for the radio. I love science and nature.
Crime Squirrel Investigators, your latest picture book, has just been released. How did it come to be?
I met the publisher, Alan Windrum from Little Door Books in the Yurt at Edinburgh International Book Festival a couple of years ago. And he asked me if there was anything I wanted to write that’s a bit different or quirky, something I can’t do with anyone else. I pitched the Naughty Nut Thief to him and he said yes!
Where is your favourite place to create?
I love being outside, the Cairngorms and the Isle of Skye are favourite places of mine. If I can have time somewhere beautiful it helps me to write. But often I just need to get on with it wherever I am.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
Ink by Alice Broadway, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I’m currently reading ‘The Way of the Warrior’ by Erwin Mcmanus.
What’s your worst habit?
Putting two and two together and making five – I sometimes jump to conclusions or catastrohise – but that kind of imagination is useful for writing stories. I sometimes get really excited and then interrupt during a conversation – and feel bad afterwards.
The strangest question you’ve even been asked?
I get lots of strange questions during school visits. And some brilliant ones. Probably last year at Edinburgh International Book Festival I was doing a new event called ‘Powerful Forces’ based on books I’d written on Volcanoes and Tsunamis. I was asked “What’s your favorite natural disaster?”. I didn’t want to say – the one where everybody died!
Your favourite word?
I like feòrag, the Scottish Gaelic word for squirrel! It’s pronounced ‘feeyourack’. I’m learning Gaelic and that was one of the first words I learned. I like the way it sounds, squirrely!
You also write nonfiction picture books, is your writing process different compared to fiction?
Yes it’s different. With non-fiction I’m trying to explain something complicated in a simple way for a particular age using words and pictures. I have to come up with the design briefs for diagrams and photos too. Whereas with fiction, I still have to think visually but it’s how to tell a good story over 12 double page spreads. It’s about making every page a mini cliff hanger. Having a beginning, middle and end. Having a low point, character journeys and a resolve. They’re similar in that they’re both a puzzle I try to solve!
What are your top tips for budding children’s picture book creators?
Read lots of picture books – think about what works and why and what doesn’t work and why. When you write the text, fit it into 12 spreads. Make every word count. Think visually so what might the images be for each spread – you don’t want them all to be the same – so a book set in the sea won’t have every page with fish and water – that would get boring. So have a think about how the action in the book will visually come to life.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Haha! There’s some TV stuff hopefully on the way. I can’t say anymore about that. And a book about dogs.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea
Seaside or countryside? Countryside (but I live by the sea so it give the countryside novelty)
Paper books or e-books? Paper
Cake or chocolate? Chocolate cake – brownie’s especially!
Write or type? I’m typing now!
Poetry or prose? Poetry
Hot or cold? Hot – I live in Scotland – I want Sunshine!