Sheryl was awarded two Australian Society of Authors’ Mentorships in 2002 and 2009, and was a recipient of a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship in 2008. Her work appears in children’s magazines, Explore and Comet, The School Magazine and the NZ schools’ Junior Journal. Sheryl also loves enthusing kids about books, the world of writing and sometimes even Australian dinosaurs at school and library appearances.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I remember pretending (at aged 10) to be a journalist and interviewing the milkman and the rubbish man up in my far north Queensland town. I think I was more impressed with having a spiral bound notebook like a real journalist would have, rather than the content.
When I was an early childhood teacher, I loved telling stories to the kids, and getting them to imagine and write their own. Finally, in 2000 I got serious about my own writing.
What was your road to publication like?
Haha, like everyone else’s! Rejection after rejection – but I know now those stories were NOT ready to submit. I didn’t stick with one story, I kept writing many different things. One story – set on a fossil dig in outback Queensland, I entered into the Australian Society of Authors Mentorship Program in 2002, and blow me down I got one. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about writing from my mentor, author, Sue Gough.
A great experience too!
Your children's books cover a wide range of subjects. Where do your ideas come from?
From everywhere – things I hear or read, or remember. Princess Clown (and my current WIP, Fangus Fearbottom) began as a challenge to write a story based on two ill-matched words like clown and princess, and banana and fang. Lots of fun!
Can you please tell us about your books.
What are you doing during book week?
Just writing my stories. Oh, and getting ready to be the writer-in-residence at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature that starts on the 4th – 14th September. I’m the festival’s inaugural blogger too – here’s the link to the daily blogs from on-site: http://ipswichkidslitfest.blogspot.com
What's the best part about presenting and conducting workshops?
I love enthusing kids about books and writing. And I love sharing with children about how I wrote my stories and how I research the story backgrounds. Also love sharing how to develop characters and create plots from almost nothing but a wisp of a thought.
Where do you write?
I can write anywhere, but do I like my own writing room. It’s quiet and looks out into my leafy front garden in Ashgrove, Brisbane. Most of the time, the room is a bit messy – until I tidy it up if visitors are expected, or if I can’t find what I’m looking for!
Not sure! Maybe it’s because I had a very free and wonderful childhood that involved escaping into the bush, and escaping into books – all part of growing a vigorous imagination. I also think the power of literacy is a right for all children of this planet. And that literacy must include a healthy dose of fiction – for that is where we learn about the state of being human.
What advice would you give aspiring children's writers?
Read many, many books of all genres – well-written preferably, osmosis is a fine thing. Write, write, write, then rewrite again. Read books and articles on the craft of writing for children. Join a critique group (of children’s writers) – take and use what you need from crits, but never forget the original passion for your story.
Never, never give up!
Best wishes for your writing