LOVED I Am NOT a Prince from Rachael Davis and Beatrix Hatcher , so of course I leapt at the chance to interview her for MyBookCorner. Rachael is a talented writer, reviewer over on Picture Book Perfect and all-round lovely person. Enjoy…
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I’m a mixed-raced Black-British children’s author, book reviewer and mummy of two. I write inclusive and empowering books, for all ages, both fiction and non-fiction.
Your picture book, I Am Not A Prince has just been published. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
The idea came to me as if by magic. I had known for a while that I wanted to write a story about breaking stereotypes, but I was waiting to find the perfect plot to deliver the message. One evening in 2019, I was having dinner with a writing friend. I always find writing events spark my creativity and the twist of I am NOT a Prince popped into my head while I was eating a sticky toffee pudding. (It was delicious). I wrote the first draft in one writing session, which is always a good sign for me (and incredibly rare!). In the blink of an eye, I secured an agent and within a few weeks it was taken on by Hachette. Once the text was edited, Beatrix brought the story to life with her illustrations and the rest is history!
Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Well, I feel like I’m cheating here because the title lends itself to me saying: “Little frog isn’t a prince.” But if you want to know what the book is really about then it’s probably the tag line on the cover: “Being proud to be yourself”.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t know and I think I like it that way – there is always a new exciting challenge just around the corner. Between looking after my two children, my writing, and volunteer work, no two days are ever the same. Some days are more full-on than others, and sometimes an unexpected writing deadline will drop into my inbox which typically means I do a lot of work in my evenings. In fact, I would probably say I am most creative late at night when the house is quiet and there are no distractions.
What makes you happy?
Spending time with my daughters and creating inclusive stories that children love to read.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
So many things!! I’m very lucky as a book reviewer to receive lots of amazing books. The picture book I’m most excited to read turned up today… Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush by Patrice Lawrence & Camilla Sucre (Nosy Crow).
What’s your worst habit?
Biting my lip when I’m feeling anxious!
Your favourite word(s)?
Ambidextrous – I love the way it sounds and it’s such a cool skill.
What are your top tips for budding writers?
Really study the picture book format and get to grips with the 12-spread structure. Think about which (recent!) picture books you enjoy and read them critically. What makes the story shine? Think about the characterisation, the pacing, the word count, the role of the illustrations, and the heart of the story.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?
How supportive other writers are. I had heard the stories about how slow the publishing industry is, and the pain of rejections, it’s all true! But what gets me through the hard times are my amazing writing friends. In such a competitive industry, you could be forgiven for thinking it is cut-throat, but in fact writers are so encouraging towards each other, it is wonderful to be a part of the publishing world.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
I’m very lucky to be working on lots of different projects simultaneously across fiction and non-fiction for all ages. My next book, A Mind Like Mine, illustrated by Islenia Mil, challenges mental health stereotypes and will be published 5 July 2022. It is a book very close to my heart and breaks down stigma and shows children that mental health disorders need not stand between them and their dreams.
Did we forget anything?
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea (but coffee when I’m tired)
Paper books or e-books? Paper books
Cake or chocolate? Impossible question – both
Write or type? Type (despite owning a million notebooks)
Poetry or prose? Prose (unless it’s a rhyming picture book!)
Hot or cold? Neither – it has to be just right!