I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been since I snaffled an early copy of Zoë Armstrong’s book – her debut! – Find The Spy, illustrated by Shelly Laslo. It’s SUCH a treat!
Without hesitation I invited Zoë to pop over to MyBookCorner to answer our infamous questions…
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I’ve been an ice cream seller, a journalist and a publicity bod for an animal charity. Now I’m an author, freelance writer and solo mumma.
Your debut picture book, Find The Spy, is hitting the shelves. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
Find the Spy actually came out of a rejection! My lovely agent, Alice Williams, had submitted something completely different, which Puffin had mulled over but ultimately felt would compete with other books in the pipeline. Disappointing, but it happens and I didn’t think too much about it. Then a few days later, Alice received a phone call from fab editor Emily Lunn. Would I be interested in writing something about spies? YES! I said.
The research was fascinating – and challenging, because funnily enough governments tend not to release information about spies into the public domain! But there were some incredible stories that HAD made it out of the vaults, and it was such an exciting experience to write about them.
Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Real spies with cunning skills.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m not a morning person. I glug tea and try to create an atmosphere of calm as we tear around the flat looking for pieces of school uniform.
I take my daughter to school, then normally I will work in a café or the library for a couple of hours to keep cabin fever at bay. When I’m restless I walk home and try again at a different work station (kitchen table, desk, sofa…). I try to avoid faffing but, what can I say, there are distractions! Then it’s the school run. Some days there will be a swimming lesson or something else we need to do before coming home. I make dinner, we hang out, I read with my daughter, I might chat with friends on the phone and potter around. And then I go to sleep. Later than I ought to.
What makes you happy?
Writing – when it flows. Sunshine. Kindness. Music. And my daughter’s laugh.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
My TBR pile is ridiculous – I’m a slow reader. There are different piles for different purposes. Maybe I’ll just tell you about the middle grade TBR pile of books that I’ve bought to read with my just turned 9-year-old: ‘Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy’ by Dashe Roberts, ‘The Monster in the Lake’ by Louie Stowell, ‘Anisha, Accidental Detective’, by Serena Patel, ‘The Middler’ by Kirsty Applebaum, ‘Bloom’ by Nicola Skinner, ‘Where the World Turns Wild’ by Nicola Penfold.
What’s your worst habit?
Over eagerly interrupting people.
Your favourite words?
‘Spangles’ feels nice to say. ‘Yes’ is full of possibility. ‘Home’ for what it symbolises.
What are your top tips for budding writers?
Be brave. It doesn’t work if you approach the whole thing timidly. Get words down onto the page – tell yourself the story – safe in the knowledge that NOBODY will read this draft zero. It’s like throwing down a lump of rough clay – it’s just a way to start – then you work the clay into a beautiful shape.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?
Yes! I knew theoretically that there was A LOT of waiting in publishing, but I hadn’t anticipated how tough the waiting would be – it’s very preoccupying!
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
I’m working on a series with Flying Eye Books, which I’m really excited about. I can’t say much more than that yet, but I’m waiting with baited breath to discover whether we‘ve secured the brilliant artist that we are hoping will illustrate the books.
Did we forget anything?
I don’t think so. But I must thank you for having me on publication day! I’ve been longing to do the My Book Corner Author Interview for ages.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea. All the tea.
Paper books or e-books? Paper! I need to feel them.
Cake or chocolate? Cake
Write or type? Type. My writing is illegible.
Poetry or prose? Both. Lyrical prose.
Hot or cold? Hot!
BREAKING NEWS: you can snaffle a SIGNED copy of Find the Spy from BookNook, and they’ll pop it in the post for you. Head here, quick sticks!
Read our review of Find The Spy, here.