Lucy is the award-winning author of Stolen, Flyaway, The Killing Woods and Storm-Wake. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, UK, where she holds a PhD in Creative Writing. As her very first picture book, Shadow – illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova, hits the shelves, we were keen to invite her to My Book Corner.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I have lived in four countries and many houses. Growing up, I always read and wrote. I love horses, dogs, and hammocks in the sun.
Your first picture book, Shadow, has just been published. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
I wrote the first draft of SHADOW several years ago. I wrote it very quickly, the words racing to get onto the page. I then did nothing with it for years – I was a writer for teenagers, what was I doing with a picture book story? When I eventually summed up the courage to send it to publishers, the initial response was the same – great story, but it’s too dark, or old, for our list. But when Lantana saw it, they snapped it up, seeing a new angle for representing diversity in mental health issues for children. Then they paired me with Anastasia Suvorova, who seemed to see right inside of my head and draw it onto the pages. The finished product is more beautiful and wonderful than I ever could have hoped for.
How did you find writing a picture book compared to a novel?
Initially, I was worried – how could I write about deep and sensitive themes with only 500 words to play with? But in essence, writing a picture book is very similar to writing a novel. Both forms still need an inciting incident, a climax, a main character with something to be solved, and a resolution. The only difference is that in creating a picture book it’s completely about stripping back everything that is superfluous, just leaving the absolute barest of spines. I have to make every single word count. In that way, it’s also a bit like writing poetry!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Oh, I wish I had a typical day! It’s easy to tell you how I would like a typical day to run- something involving lots of reading and writing, long walks in beautiful locations, and drinking lots of coffee. But in reality, my days are a balance between my job as Course Director for Bath Spa’s MA in Writing for Young People and with writing my stories. I also fit in school visits and other writing and teaching jobs alongside. Each day involves a dog walk with my favourite pooch, Dr Larch, though!
What makes you happy?
Loads of things! Being with the people and the animals that I love. Riding horses. Sitting in the sunshine. Travelling to new places. Cuddling Dr Larch. Eating popcorn in a darkened movie theatre. Being pleasantly surprised by life.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
Oh gosh, it’s huge. It would take me some time to list all of it. It’s actually so big that it’s almost the same height as my bed. Let me see …. I have Marcus Sedgwick’s Snowflake, AZ (which I’m nearly finished – very good), under that is Coconut by Kopano Matlwa, a book from South Africa recommended by my PhD Student, beneath this is Snegurochka written by a friend of mine in Winchester University, Judith Heneghan, and below that is Jason Reynolds’ acclaimed middle grade novel Ghost. There’s also a whole pile more under these guys, but perhaps I’d better leave it there…
What’s your worst habit?
Biting my nails!
Your favourite word(s)?
Mellifluous – a pleasant sound, as if sweetened by honey. I’ve loved this word since when I was very young and I heard someone say it but didn’t know what it meant. When I later found out what it meant, I loved it even more. It’s perfectly onomatopoeic.
As a lecturer in creative writing AND an award winning children’s writer, I’m dying to know… what are your top tips for budding writers?
Be brave – writing is an act of courage and faith. It always feels rubbish in the middle, and the self-doubt is actually a necessary part of the process. I’m coming to recognize this now, but it’s taken me years to accept it.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Like my TBR pile, I’ve got a few ideas on the go. I’m working on another picture book for Lantana, I have an adult book that has links to my young adult novel Stolen, and I have a YA novel set in Bristol. I don’t want to jinx them by giving too much away! 😉
Did we forget anything?
Nope. Just for me to thank you for having me on this blog. THANK YOU. Hope you enjoy SHADOW.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Paper books or e-books? Paper
Cake or chocolate? Chocolate
Write or type? Both!
Poetry or prose? Prose, but poetry too sometimes.
Hot or cold? Hot (I hate cold weather!)