I'm thrilled to welcome a wonderful author/illustrator to the blog today as they prepare for their debut picture book release in October!
Here we go...
Corrina was born in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. Having studied Education at Strathclyde University in Glasgow she moved to Edinburgh where she worked as a Primary Teacher for several years before returning home to the Highlands with her husband to raise their three daughters. Corrina writes and illustrates children’s picture books and her debut, ‘The Girl who Stole the Stars’ is out this year, published by Little Door Books.
‘The Girl Who Stole the Stars’ is a story about a little girl who decides she wants a star of her very own but ends up taking all the stars from the sky with disastrous consequences, not just for her but for millions of other children around the world. But what will it take for her to put them back in the sky? You’ll need to read the book to find out!
Who are you and what do you write?
My name is Corrina and I write and illustrate children’s picture books.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I think it is fair to say that most people who knew me when I was young would not have expected me to become a writer. I was a long way from being top of the class in English, I was terrible at spelling (I still am, thank goodness for spell checker!) and nothing inspired me to write…except from my diary. That’s where my ‘writing life’ began. From 1995-2001 I kept a ‘warts-and-all’ diary. You’ve got it, the ramblings of my teenage self were all jotted down. I certainly wouldn’t say this classed me as a writer, yet I clearly enjoyed to write from a young age.
After all the assignments and essays of University it wasn’t until I started working as a Primary School Teacher that I started to enjoy writing again. I wanted to tackle challenging topics with my pupils and found that stories were great for doing this in a child-friendly manner. After several years of writing I decided to get one of my stories illustrated with the aim of self-publishing. However, I underestimated how much this would cost so I decided to give illustration a go myself. This may seem a strange thing to do without a background in art but I had always been creative and I was determined to see my book in print. I am happy to admit that my first attempt was terrible, yet after hours and hours of drawing the makings of a book stared to emerge. Since then I have continued to create books and stories into the small hours of the night.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
The journey so far has been hard. It has required hours and hours of work, lots of rejections and numerous sacrifices. This is not my full-time job so I use my spare time to write and create books for fun. Fortunately, I have bags of energy, lots of enthusiasm and a large (secret, shhhh!) stash of biscuits which keeps me going until late into night. I have taught myself everything I know from the kitchen table – there is nothing fancy behind the scenes here! I have read hundreds of children’s picture books to try and understand what makes a good story, I have watched numerous YouTube videos to learn from those already working in the picture book industry, I have written pages and pages of stories and ideas, crammed into notebooks that now live in cupboards and drawers scattered around the house, I have been brave and shared story ideas with friends, family and even strangers to try and improve my work, but most importantly I have pitched stories and ideas, been rejected and kept going.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest part for me has been making my work digital. I started off with everything on paper. A messy collection of words and drawings that did not look professional in the slightest and generally lived in hundreds of notebooks and sketchpads. I decided to invest in a scanner (£50) and start using Photoshop/InDesign in order to submit quality work to agents and publishers. After two weeks of genuine tears and frustration I finally got to grips with editing and producing files that finally looked presentable. This was also the most enjoyable moment for me. It was a huge step forward and one that I wasn’t sure that I’d manage. It was a real sense of achievement.
Would you go back and change anything?
Sometimes I look back and cringe at some of the work I have submitted. However, looking back also shows me how far I have come. So no, I wouldn’t change anything – even the truly terrible submissions I have made to publishers in the early days!
Where would you like to be in 5 year’s time? And 10?
Gosh, I find this question really tough as I don’t like to try and predict anything! Life has been very unpredictable for me so I intentionally try to not predict any of it and just take the opportunities that present themselves. I like to think that when a door closes another will open, rather than fixate on a specific outcome. Such a rubbish answer, I know, but I genuinely don’t know where this path will lead me.
Plans for the future certainly include another book. I have loved creating ‘The Girl who Stole the Stars’ and I have hundreds of other stories and ideas that I am looking forward to working on. I just need to find the time!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Keep going and be brave!
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? Ketchup ketchup ketchup! Especially on fish and chips from the local shop.
Night or Day? I am such a night owl, night without a doubt! It’s the only time I have to myself. I’ve always wanted to be an early bird but have never managed it.
Inside or Outside? Tricky one….it rains an awful lot here in Scotland, but I do love the outdoors!
Dogs or Cats? Dogs.
Twitter or Facebook? This is an easy one – Twitter without a doubt!
Ebook or Paperback? Paperback. I believe you need to feel the pages and if I am being really weird smell them too!
Sun or Rain? Rain. Puddles are great.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Pencil and notebook so you can always look back and see where an idea started.
Comedy or Drama? Drama.
Chips or Chocolate? Chocolate.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!