Author Interview: Candy Gourlay


Absolutely bowled over to welcome the one and only Candy Gourlay to MyBookCorner. Her latest books – Bone Talk and Is It A Mermaid? have just hit the shelves… and they’re VERY good.

Growing up in the Philippines, Candy Gourlay wondered why all the books she ever loved only featured pink-skinned children who lived in snow-covered worlds that didn’t resemble her steamy, tropical home in Manila. As a result, it took her years to fulfil her dream of becoming an author – and years to learn that Filipino stories too, belong in the pages of books. Candy’s novels for young readers. Tall Story and Shine, have been published to acclaim and listed for many prizes such as the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. Both novels won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe. She lives in London with her family, where she wages war on the snails in her garden.

Welcome Candy!

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I grew up in tropical Manila, but lived in the books I read voraciously. Still mostly live in books – but now they’re written by me.

Describe your latest novel, Bone Talk, in 20 words or less.

A boy who wants to become a warrior. A girl who wants the same. A world coming to an end.

bonetalkHow did Bone Talk arrive in the world?

I began writing another book – set in the 1904 World Fair in St Louis, Missouri, United States, a fabulous exhibition of technology and imperial power. One of the displays was a human zoo made up of several tribes from my native Philippines. I wanted to write a story from the point of view of a headhunter boy who is exhibited at the World Fair. But I quickly realised that the distractions of the fair would make it impossible for my readers to see the world from my hero’s eyes. I needed to write another book so that my readers could experience his original world before he goes to America. That book is Bone Talk, about the moment when a boy living in the remote Philippine mountains, meets the outside world for the first time.

How would you describe your writing style?

Too slow!

What makes you happy?

Babies. Dogs. Gardening. Drawing.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I love having something beautiful to look at, like my garden. But then the hostas keep begging me to check for snails and before I know it, I’ve mowed the lawn and pruned a forest. I like being surrounded by books. My garden office is full of books but I haven’t worked in there since there was a mysterious plague of bugs – a gazillion of them appeared overnight … and then vanished the next day. I like having coffee to hand. But it’s easy to overdose so I stick to decaf nowadays. I love my husband and my children but I can’t write when they’re within 20 metres of my laptop.

What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

Flight by Vanessa Harbour. The Goose Road by Rowena House. Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. Asian Waters – The Struggle Over the Asia-Pacific And the Strategy of Chinese Expansion by Humphrey Hawksley. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew.

What’s your worst habit?

Losing track of time.

Your favourite words?

Anyone for ice cream?

What are your top tips for budding childrens’ writers?

What makes a reader read? Emotion.

Here’s story structure from the point of view of a reader:

Opening – Drawn to hero. Intrigued.
Inciting Event – Shocked and appalled. Must find out what happens next!
Crises – so many of them, each getting worse and worse! I can’t stop reading!
False Hope – Ahhh at last, things are getting better
Rug pulling Moment – Oh no! The poor hero! What is going to happen next
Denouvrement – Things are falling into place, oh I love these characters so much.
The End – OMG it’s over! I must read it again?

Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)

What flavor cake?

Did we forget anything?

My picture book Is It a Mermaid is lovely too 😉


Just for fun

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. When I was growing up in the Philippines, tea was only for tummy aches

Paper books or e-books?

E books for novels and hard backs for picture books and books I love.

Cake or chocolate?

Ice Cream.

Write or type?


Poetry or prose?

Prose. And comics!

Hot or cold?

Cold. With ice. Even white wine.


Read My Book Corner’s review of Bone Talk. 

2 Responses

  1. I LOVED doing this interview! Short and snappy. And did I mention it’s SHORT??? Thank you for having me!

    • Emma Perry

      Short & snappy – that’s us!! It was a delight to have you Candy.

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