Today we are joined by children’s author, Sheryl Gwyther, who has come to answer my seven questions. Thanks for joining us, Sheryl.
1. Tell us a little about your publication credits. Tell us about the genres you prefer to write, and your current projects.
My first junior fiction was Secrets of Eromanga, an adventure set in the dinosaur-rich fossil fields of north-western Queensland. This (Fleeting) Life, a short story in The Weekend Australian Review section, and non-fiction articles in Pearson Education’s children’s magazines Explore and Comet.
I love writing adventure stories, probably because I enjoy reading them. And I love writing interesting characters who sometimes decide what genre the story is (whether I approve or not).
I have three projects on the go – this is my usual ‘modus operandi’. But I’ve now finished the re-write and sent off to publishers Decibelle, the adventures of a very loud fairy (tintookie, actually – the Australian version of a fairy); polished McAlpine & Macbeth again after not touching it for two years. That was fun – I love this story to bits!
But now I’m concentrating on finishing the first draft of Ngarrabullgan. It’s got four POVs and four eras through the history of an astonishing mountain in far north Queensland. I love the challenge, but it’s sending me grey!
2. How long have you been writing for children?
Since 1999. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed in a job – my previous record was four years – I get bored quickly once I excel. Mmmm, maybe that’s why I’m still writing??!!
3. How much time do you spend each week writing and/or revising? And how much time on other writing-related tasks such as promotion, researching markets and so on?
The time I spend on writing varies from day to day. Some days I spend hours writing, some it’s procrastinating time. Well, the budgies cage has to be cleaned out!
I love re-writing the first draft – it’s when that creative part of my brain feels free enough to fly on silver wings.
For me, first drafts are mostly HARD work (except for Decibelle, which was like magic). But the hard yakka is worth it in the end! I do all the usual researching markets etc. And for my next published book I’ll do more promotion, I promise!
I’m about to make a CD package with lots of information and activities about dinosaur fossil hunting in Queensland to accompany a copy of Secrets of Eromanga. Hoping schools will be interested.
4. How much time do you spend reading children’s books? And what are you reading right now?
I read every day (it’s part of procrastinating time, remember?). Just finished Louis Sachar’s Someday Angeline and Michelle Paver’s Outcast. Now I’m on to Pauline Luke’s Bronco, Fi, Maddie and Me, and Tim Winton’s Breath.
5. What advice would you give other would-be children’s writers, or share with other professional children’s writers?
Read aloud to yourself what you’ve written – it’s the best way to pick up when the rhythm of the language is not working. Stay positive even when the rejections roll in (regard them as part of your apprenticeship!) Surround yourself with other children’s writers – I get much joy from my connections to the many friends I’ve made through writing.
Join internet support groups, and organisations like The Australian Society of Authors (ASA), your State’s Writing Centre and subscribe to children’s books review magazines like Magpie and free websites like Sally Murphy’s Aussie Reviews. And read and learn from ‘self-help’ books on writing – there are a million of them.
6. What is your favourite online resource for children’s writers? Why?
Definitely PASS IT ON (PIO) newsletter – available every Monday. And the Australian Writer’s Marketplace (either in book form or online). It’s available from the Queensland Writers Centre.
7. Do you have a website or blog? What else do you do to promote your published works and/or your writing skills?
My website is www.sherylgwyther.net
I also have a blog: www.sherylgwytherauthor.blogspot.com
Also on the list of authors for Show & Tell Promotions so I get to visit schools and libraries.
Thanks for joining us, Sheryl. If YOU would like to be interviewed here, drop me a line.