A children’s author and TV journalist, we are delighted to be welcoming Catherine Jacob to My Book Corner. Catherine Jacob’s debut picture book, There’s A Troll On My Toilet – illustrated by Mike Byrne, has just hit the shelves.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I’m a book-writing, tea -drinking, netball-playing, news-reporting Mum of 3 who lives in a really old cottage in York… and likes hyphens!
Your debut picture book, There’s A Troll On My Toilet, has just been published. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
I originally wrote Troll when my eldest daughter was five, so around five years ago. She loves spooky stories and Halloween so it sprang from there. I had the line ‘There’s a witch in my Kitchen…’ spinning around my head and it went from there. That was the originally title too, but when Mike’s illustrations came through it was clear Troll was the stand out character and the brilliant Fiz Osborne at Scholastic put him on the front. Hence, There’s a Troll on my Toilet was born.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Hmmm… Well, I wouldn’t say any day is typical, though every day starts the same: getting my 3 children out of bed, breakfasted and ready for school/nursery. They’re 9, 7 and 3 so it’s lively! After that, it’s either off to the day job at Channel 5 News where I report a few times a week on stories across the North of England, or looking after my little preschooler (whilst doing chores in the house!), or if I’m really lucky and I’m child-free… I get some writing time! It’s been a busy time recently as I’ve been writing the follow- up to There’s a Troll on my Toilet which launched in September with Scholastic and my Christmas picture book, Santa’s Special Gift has also just been published by Little Tiger, so aside from the actual writing, as I don’t have an agent, a lot of time has been taken-up organising book shop and library visits, promoting the books on social media, approaching schools to see if they’d like an author visit, or ordering costumes for story readings.
When I’m not doing TV work, the late afternoons and evenings are for the children, on school pick-up/playing/taxi duty, taking the girls around to their various musical or sporting activities with the pre-schooler in tow. Once they’re in bed (around 9pm) I tend to get a few more hours of writing time (in amongst prepping the school uniforms etc, washing and house work etc!) though I’ll be honest, my brain is often fairly frazzled by then. Then again, sometimes I get a second wind and will find myself still at the computer writing away in the wee small hours.
What makes you happy?
Lots of things! For example: playing netball on a Monday night; writing in rhyme; a weekend when we have nothing scheduled – no kids activities or birthday parties or social engagements or work – just two lovely days of family time, ideally spent out in the countryside; having a rare evening when I don’t have to get up early so I can sit and watch a movie with my husband or read a book with a glass of lovely red wine; seeing my 3 children playing nicely all together (rate!); listening to my daughters sing; watching my 9-year-old draw, which she loves; eating a slice of one of my mum’s amazing cakes with a strong cup of tea; having a good catch up and a laugh with my friends… I could go on and on.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
SO MANY THINGS! I’m also writing an MG novel and have so many great MG books in a pile waiting to be read. Eg Princess BMX by Marie Basting, The Midnight Unicorn by Alice Hemming, The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike, How to be Extraordinary (PB) by Rashmi Sirdeshpandi, The Girl with Space in her Heart by Lara Williamson and LOADS more…
What’s your worst habit?
Spending too much time on Twitter!
Your favourite word(s)?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. Family, for obvious reasons. Wine! (For obvious reasons.) Peace (again, rare!) and growing up, I always loved saying the word, Floccinaucinihilipilification because it’s so long and sounds so pleasing. (I had to look up how to spell it!)
What are your top tips for budding picture book writers?
Think in picture! Draw it out. I’m no illustrator but when I’m writing a spread I’m thinking about what the illustration will look like, just as much as the words. Think big, think bonkers, think story, think character, think from a child’s point of view.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Ha! I have a few, but I’ve just finished the follow up to There’s a Troll on my Toilet and am waiting tentatively to hear what my editor thinks! I’m also working on a PB I’m really excited about. It’s one of those that just descended into my head, so I’m hoping editors will agree it’s a bit special.
Did we forget anything?
Don’t think so. It’s been a pleasure! I’ve enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a massive granola bar while we’ve been chatting, which has been lovely.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? TEA.
Paper books or e-books? Paper books most definitely. But also, audio books as I often have to drive very long distances for work, so I tend to get through a fair few.
Cake or chocolate? CAKE! I love chocolate too. But not chocolate cake, actually! Give me a slice of fruitcake, (or carrot cake/flap jack/Victoria sponge/walnut cake…) any day over chocolate cake.
Write or type? Type. My hands ache these days when I have to hand write a lot!
Poetry or prose? Prose generally. Aside from rhyming picture books, of course.
Hot or cold? Hot. I really hate being cold but have terrible circulation so my hands and feet often go blue in Winter! It’s quite a sight!