Caryl Hart: Author Interview

Caryl Portrait

Caryl Hart’s first real book was published in 2009 when she was 42 and by the end of 2020, she’ll have published more than fifty. Wowzas! With July seeing the release of two more to add to her collection, we couldn’t wait to see how Caryl tackled My Book Corner’s questions…

Psst: We’ve got a lovely giveaway for one of Caryl’s books over on Twitter. Come and take a look.

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I am an award-winning children’s author who runs creative literacy workshops in schools, libraries, festivals and community groups.

Tell us how your latest books came to be?

I have two new books out this month:

bearslovesquaresBears Love Squaresillustrated by Edward Underwood and published by Bloomsbury

This is the third book in a series illustrated by Edward Underwood. The idea first book, Big Box Little Box came to me whilst driving to Devon with my daughter. The title just popped into my head and as we drove, I dictated a few lines which my daughter noted down.

A few weeks later I’d written the text and it was picked up by my editor at Bloomsbury. She had recently discovered Edward Underwood through his graphic design work and approached him to illustrate Big Box Little Box. He agreed and the series was born.

I was hugely inspired by Edward’s characters and wrote several more stories that now form part of a series I like to call Cat Mouse Bear.

Bears Love Squares was created for this character. I just loved his little face and the triangular sandwich gave me the idea of writing a book about shapes.

I didn’t realise until I read a review of Big Box Little Box, that these texts are heavily influenced by the Dr Seuss books, and I guess Bears Love Squares gives a nod to the classic Green Eggs and Ham.

WhenADragonGoesToSchoolWhen a Dragon Goes to School illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw and published by Nosy Crow.
A few years ago, my editor at Nosy Crow asked if I would write a book about a pre-school aged dragon, using the strapline: “Why no, dragons don’t do that!”
The first book, When a Dragon Comes to Stay came out last year and was Nosy Crow’s top selling picture book for several months.
When a Dragon Goes to School is the second book in this series and features our adorable little dragon settling in to her first days at nursery. Will she put paint prints on her chair or throw the crayons in the air? Why no! Dragons don’t do that!

Rosalind Beardshaw has taken the text and created three absolutely adorable characters so I’m hoping book two will help reassure little ones who may be starting or going back to school over coming months.
Find out more here.

Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your books in five words? [runs and hides!]

Bears Love Squares = Find fun in every shape

When a Dragon Goes to School = Little Dragons Love to Learn!

What does a typical day look like for you?

At the moment, we’re not really living our typical lives! Here’s a summary of my lockdown life:
7.30 Lovely husband brings me tea
8.00 Wake up and drink cold tea in bed
8.30-9.00 Eat porridge with extra bits, scroll through facebook, do some tweeting and instagramming about my work
9.00 In the normal world, I would drop my daughter off at school and take my dog for a good long stomp through the woods or out into the peak district. But my daughter isn’t at school any more and the dog is lame, so instead I go upstairs and get straight to work.

I often spend my mornings doing promotional activities such as posting on Twitter and instagram, writing blogs, creating and uploading content on my website, making social media graphics, or uploading videos, resources to Author Events Online, a project I set up with Jonathan Emmett to support families with children at home during lockdown.

Most recently, I’ve started a book review blog called Discover Children’s Books I’m trying to write a review every day, so I’ll be choosing a book, writing a review and doing social media posts about that too. You can find it here.

Afternoons are generally when I write. At the moment I’m working on a secret plan so I can’t tell you what it is! I’ll be writing and re-writing verses then discussing them with my agent.

5.00 Alarm goes off to stop work. If I don’t set an alarm, I’m still at my desk at 7.00 pm

5.30 Daily workout. I’m coming to the end of a 30 Murph challenge, which involves the following:
1000 skips with a rope (or 10 minutes, whichever is longer), 100 pushups, 200 sit ups, 300 mountain climbers, 300 squats, 1000 skips (or 10 more minutes). I then usually try to do half an hour of yoga to stop my body seizing up.

6.30 As I have two young adult children currently at home, we now have a cooking rota! If I’m on, I’ll cook something like a curry, or home made veggy burgers or stir fry. If it’s someone else’s turn, I’ll jump in the shower and then share a meal with my family that I haven’t had to cook! Mealtime is important family time for us and we often sit and chat for a good long while before clearing up

9.30 Telly time – this is cuddle time for me and my husband and we’re usually in the middle of one box set or another.

10.30 ish. Bed and a crossword to finish off the day.

What makes you happy?

Going for long walks with my dog in the Peak District.
Mountain biking with my friends
Working out
Listening to audio books
Knowing my children are happy

What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

Grimms Fairy Tales

The Little Book of the Hidden People: Twenty stories of elves from Icelandic folklore by Alda

Nordic Tales by Ulla Thynell

What’s your worst habit?

Err… I’m not sure I want to tell you!

Your favourite word(s)?

Snuggle – because it’s what I love to do.
Lovely – because it nice to say and to hear

What are your top tips for budding writers?

Set your bar high. You will be competing with all the established writers and illustrators out there, so it needs to be as good, or better, than all the other thousands of books that get published every year.

Listen to advice from people who know what they’re talking about. Ignore everyone else.

If you really believe in what you are doing, keep going.

Work hard, be self critical and don’t give up!

Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?

The best thing about working in children’s publishing is that every single person I’ve ever come across has been super-lovely! It’s the most nurturing industry I’ve ever been in and I love it!

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

Well if you’re offering cake…

I’m working on a text that looks at the simple things in life and how we can create happiness with very little. It’s a response to the huge gratitude many of us are currently feeling for small things in our lives.

Did we forget anything?

I think I’ve rambled on enough!!

Just for fun

Tea or coffee?
100% tea

Paper books or e-books?
Paper and audio

Cake or chocolate?
Now that is an impossible choice!
No. Chocolate
Err..Chocolate cake with chocolate on top??

Write or type?

Poetry or prose?

Hot or cold?
Hot. But not too hot. Except when you’re talking about tea. Tea must always be very hot. Although I will also drink it cold.

Psst: We’ve got a lovely giveaway for one of Caryl’s books over on Twitter. Come and take a look.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment