Author Spotlight: Pippa Chorley
October 4, 2019
We are excited to feature author Pippa Chorley and her debut picture book, COUNTING SHEEP, illustrated by Danny Deeptown (Marshall Cavendish), coming out Jan. 7, 2020. Pippa is giving away TWO copies of her book, one for our UK readers and one for our US readers.
Be sure to enter to win a copy below! UK readers, enter separately below.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I have always loved writing, ever since I was a young girl; poems, short stories, and even children’s books. When I was seventeen, I attempted my first children’s picture book and even illustrated it. It was called "The Tale of Fluke the Dolphin." I had a lot to learn but I knew I loved the process and felt I had many more stories in me.
Over the years I wrote more and more, especially as my children were growing. When my daughter began pre-school I was finally able to dedicate more time to writing and I began re-working my favorite manuscript, which happened to be COUNTING SHEEP.
The best thing I did was join wonderful writing platforms such as SCBWI and KIDLIT 411. I suppose I gave myself permission to finally take my dream seriously and do something about it rather than just wishing for it to happen. I was then encouraged by my critique group to submit my story and was fortunate that Marshall Cavendish Publishing liked my work.
Congrats on your recent picture book, COUNTING SHEEP. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you so much, I feel very blessed that it has finally come alive.
COUNTING SHEEP is a rhyming story about a little girl, called Sam, who decides to count sheep to get to sleep, only to find that one of the sheep cannot jump over the fence. Sam and the flock then set about finding lots of fun ways to help little Shep over the fence. It is ultimately a story about never giving up!
I first began writing COUNTING SHEEP twelve years ago, whilst riding the bus on my way to work. I hadn’t slept very well the night before and was remembering how my dad always told me to count sheep when I couldn’t sleep as a child growing up. I began imagining what would happen if those sheep couldn’t actually jump over the fence and suddenly the story came pouring out of me. It was like a stream of consciousness. I still have the bus ticket I scribbled the first lines of my story on in a drawer at home!
The story has been through many edits since the original was written though, probably a good twenty in total, but the core story is still the same.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I don’t have a literary agent so I actually submitted this story direct to the publisher. As a result, this has all happened a little faster than usual I think.
Following a weekly writing critique group meeting, I was advised by one of the members to submit this story to a publishing house in Singapore. I held no high hopes of it being accepted but I loved my story and I felt it was at least worth a shot. I was lucky enough that the story sparked their interest and they wrote back to me a few days later asking for more information.
Following this I was asked to meet them and share my other work in person (the benefits of living in a small country!). It was only a few weeks later that contracts were being discussed and signed and another few months after that that illustrations were being sketched. It was less than a year from submission to it being available in shops which is quite incredible really.
What projects are you working on now?
My wonderful illustrator for COUNTING SHEEP, Danny Deeptown, is currently working on the sketches for the second book in the Sam series, called STUFFED. I am very excited as I get to see his initial ideas at the end of this month. He is incredibly talented and imaginative and brought Sam to life in the perfect way so I am thrilled to be working with him again.
Besides STUFFED, which is due to be released in spring next year, I am constantly working on new stories and revising old ones ready for submission to agents. I literally cannot stop myself writing, it is definitely a part of who I am and I feel so lucky that I get to do what I love the most in my life.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
I would tell my younger sell to join a writing group earlier and become part of the writing community much much sooner. They are an incredibly supportive and helpful group of people and not only full of excellent advise but also lots of encouragement for when we face rejections and during those blank page moments. I definitely encourage all young writers out there to do the same!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Most people are surprised to find out that I am dyslexic and I really struggled with reading and writing at school. I lacked huge self-confidence growing up and was often made to feel stupid by teachers. My spelling was atrocious and I was the slowest reader in school but my mum always encouraged me to try my best and not give up. When I was in my late teens I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia and rather than feel sorry for myself I felt huge relief. I could finally understand why I struggled and begin to build strategies to help myself improve. I doubled my efforts and wrote and read more and more. I wanted to prove people wrong and I was extremely proud when I graduated from university with a first-class BA Honours degree in English and Creative Writing.
Where can people find you online?
I am quite a visual person so I like using Instagram most of all, you can find me @pippachorley but I am also active on Twitter too @PippaChorley
I have my own website, www.pippachorleystories.com, where I try to post book reviews as often as I can and I love to receive emails from my readers so please do get in touch!
Pippa Chorley grew up in a picturesque village in Cheshire, England surrounded by sheep. She spent her time inventing stories in her garden and creating magical worlds in the woods on their family dog walks. Pippa went on to study English Literature and Creative Writing at university in the UK where she wrote, read, studied and wrote some more, and she has never stopped reading and writing since! Trained as a primary school teacher, she loves to write stories that make children giggle and think outside the box. Philippa now lives in sunny Singapore with her husband and their very own flock.
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