I am super excited to be part of the blog tour for the ABSOLUTELY LOVELY Catherine Emmett today to help celebrate the release of her gorgeous picture book KING OF THE SWAMP.
Let's dive straight in!!!!!
Hello, Catherine!!!!! Who are you and what do you write?
Hello! I’m Catherine and I write picture books. I mostly write in rhyme, as I weirdly find that easier – apparently I have a rhyming kind of brain!
My first picture book, ‘King of the Swamp’, is illustrated by Ben Mantle and is out on August 20th!
King of the Swamp – written by Catherine Emmett and illustrated by Ben Mantle
McDarkly lives a quiet life, growing flowers in the swamp, until his peace is shattered by a roller-skating king who wants to concrete over his home! Can McDarkly save the swamp in time? Or will he lose his home forever? A beautifully illustrated rhyming story about the importance of finding beauty in even the stinkiest of places!
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I spent a long time working in finance, but it never really gave me a creative outlet. For a lot of years, I knew I wanted to write something, but I was never sure what. I just had random ideas floating around my head. After I had my second son, I found myself being kept awake at night by stories. Writing them down was the only way to stop the voices in my head! Now I find I write because I find it calming and I love the feeling of having a story that works. In a lot of ways, I write because now I can’t NOT write.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
I have been super lucky - so far! I started writing back in 2015 and spent two years learning what I didn’t know and finding my way around the writing world. Then in 2017 I bid in a charity auction for a critique of my stories by the agent, Alice Sutherland-Hawes.
Alice quite liked one of my prose stories and I made some changes as she’d suggested. I sent it back and she asked what else I had. Alice specifically said she didn’t want rhyming stories, but the only other stories I had were rhymers, so I took a chance and sent them. Luckily, she liked them and offered me representation!
We sent out a round of submissions at the end of 2017 and I was luckily enough to sell 4 texts on the back of that.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest part for me is the WAITING. So much waiting! Waiting when on submission, waiting to make it through acquisitions, waiting to find an illustrator - waiting, waiting, waiting! I went from working in finance, the fastest paced industry there is, to what feels like the slowest! For picture books there is even more waiting, as you need to wait for all the illustrations as well. It will have been almost 3 years between going on submission and ‘King of the Swamp’ being published.
Having said that, the illustrations are ALWAYS worth waiting for! The best bit for me is definitely seeing your characters brought to life by a talented illustrator. Ben Mantle has done such a fab job on this book – it is so, so beautiful. As soon as I saw his first sample I was smiling!
Would you go back and change anything?
Not yet! I am hoping that I don’t get to this point, but I am sure it will happen. I try to see whatever happens as a journey, and something to help me learn. But when things don’t work out, I always allow myself at least a day to have a proper huff before figuring out how to move forward!
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10?
Writing more picture books! My second book, ‘Cautionary Tales for Parents and Children – The Pet’ is out with Macmillan in Spring 2021 and a couple more will follow. I’d like to just be able to keep putting my stories out there, there’s nothing better than knowing that your stories will go out in the world! I’d love to write some young MG stories and I have a YA story that needs to be written at some point (but shhhhhh… don’t tell my agent that just yet…). We’re building a house at the moment and I have managed to wrangle myself a sparkling new writing room, so I need to write a LOT more or my husband will never let me live it down! I’m in it for the long haul now!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new writers just starting out?
So much advice, but more than anything - think outside the box. There are a LOT of stories and writers out there. To stand out you need something really original and different. Accept that your first ideas might be great, but that you might be the first one to have thought of them. Look for new angles – look for the weird and put a twist on it! Learn what you don’t know and write, write, write until you shine!
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? Mayo please.
Night or Day? Anything that doesn’t include early mornings.
Inside or Outside? Outside. Unless it’s raining.
Dogs or Cats? Both.
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter for writing, Facebook for staying in touch.
e-book or Paperback? Paperback.
Sun or Rain? Sun! Sun! Sun! Everything is always better when the sun shines!
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Both are essential. Notepad for ideas, laptop for actual writing. But if I could find a way to stop my kids stealing my notepads it would be useful. Ooohh and actually my phone as well for writing ideas down on the hoof!
Comedy or Drama? Drama. I once dumped a boyfriend for taking me to see the comedy ‘Dumb and Dumber’. Really.
Chips or Chocolate? How can this even be a question?? Chocolate!!
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!