May 4, 2012

Interview with Children's Author Candice Lemon-Scott

When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

I've loved writing stories for as long as I can remember. When I was in Grade 3, I was home from school sick one day and I wrote my first book, ‘The Haunted House.’ It won a school award and I was rapt. I still have the handwritten story in a folder. I didn’t think of becoming an author though until I was in my early 20s. It was then I started writing a story for kids but when I’d finished it I realised that I needed to learn some more technical skills. I enrolled in a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing and then went on to do my degree in Communications. It’s been a long road, finding time to write with the need to pay the bills in between, but I finally got there. It’s been an amazing journey.

Tell us about your books.

My books tend to be fast-paced, action-packed and funny. I didn’t go in with that intention, but it’s how the stories have turned out so far, and luckily they’ve resonated with kids, especially boys. My upcoming book ‘Hubert and the Magic Glasses’ is being published with New Frontier Publishing as part of the new Little Rockets series. It’s due out in August this year.
The story is about a boy, Hubert, who loves playing soccer but is doing really badly at it, and is getting worse. It turns out he needs glasses but Hubert can’t think of anything more horrible – until he discovers the glasses he’s given are magical. The glasses are amazing but it doesn’t all go smoothly. This story came about from a comment I got one time from my school sports teacher. We were playing tennis, and I was absolutely hopeless. My teacher, trying to be helpful, suggested I wear my glasses while I was playing. The only problem was, I didn’t wear glasses. From there I thought about how great it would be if I did need glasses and better yet if they could magical transform me.
My first book ‘Stinky Ferret & the JJs’ is published with Penguin’s Aussie Chomps series. It’s about a boy called Adrian who is terrified when it’s his turn to take the class pet, Ferret home for the weekend. Though at first Adrian couldn’t think of anything worse than having to look after a stinky ferret with sharp teeth and claws, before long he begins to bond with the class pet, but not without some pretty funny moments trying to be the carer of the cheeky animal. The idea first came about when I remembered a time when some ferrets were brought in to my primary school. Everyone was really excited, and we were all crowded into this hall to see them, but all I remember is how smelly they were and how I couldn’t wait to get out of there. It got me thinking about what it would be like having to care for one for a whole weekend!

What inspires you?
Reading other great books and hearing from kids about what they enjoy reading. One of the things that inspires me to keep writing is when kids go from hating the thought of picking up a book to loving reading after reading my book.
For ideas, inspiration is all around me. It’s in the stories I hear, memories I have, other people’s experiences, the news, a photograph or painting, seeing new places and my feelings about things that are going on in the world. Inspiration can also come when I least expect it and it’s exciting when that happens.

What are you currently working on?
I have a whole box full of ideas so I’m looking forward to thinking about which ones can be developed into stories.

When and where do you write?

I write on my laptop. Having a young family it’s very handy being able to take my computer with me so I write at home, at the library – anywhere free from ‘little’ distractions! When the kids were younger I used to write in the evenings or during nap times. Now I have the luxury of writing when my youngest is at kindy, at my usually messy desk.
What were your favourite books growing up?

I loved mystery stories – the Trixie Belden books, Secret Seven, Famous Five and Sherlock Holmes books were all stories I devoured. I also loved fantasy books like The Magic Faraway Tree and Alice in Wonderland. As you can see, Enid Blyton was a firm favourite as far as authors go. As well, I enjoyed some of the classics like Treasure Island.

You're presenting a ‘Writing for Children’ workshop at Tafe. Can you please tell us what you'll be covering?
Sure, I’ve run this course before in Melbourne and I’m looking forward to being able to run it on the Gold Coast as it was popular down south. I’ll be covering what I think are the most important parts of writing for children, and how it’s different to other forms of writing. I take people through the specifics like developing ideas, language, dialogue, theme and structure. I’ll also be breaking it down into the different age groups and talking about how each type of book is different as well, as looking at non-fiction books for kids. I’ll also be including the all important session on how to go about getting a book for children published. In a nutshell, the aim of the course is for the writers to come away with loads of ideas and the tools to write books for kids.

What's next?

 I’ve actually got an adult book coming out with Odyssey Books soon. It was commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and luckily it’s now been picked up by a publisher. I’ve also got a young adult novel that’ll be out in the future. And hopefully there'll be some more kids’ stories as well.


Charmaine Clancy said...

Great interview, these books sound like fun reads, great to see more stories for boys out there.

I also loved Trixie Beldon :)

DimbutNice said...

Superb interview Renee. I know Candice is not wicked but she certainly NEVER seems to rest. Great stuff. Can't wait to lay my hands on your (Candice's) new releases either - all sound amazing.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Charmaine and Dimity. I was lucky enough to meet Candice at a workshop on the Gold Coast. She's just lovely and I can't wait to read her books!

Candice said...

Thanks for the lovely comments Charmaine, Dimity and Renee. I'm very lucky to get to write stuff for boys, and it's great that I'm just wicked enough to love being busy ;). I had a whole book shelf just of Trixie Belden books (maybe a mystery adventure will be on the cards in the future)?