May 25, 2012

Interview with Children's Author Caroline Stills

Welcome Caroline Stills to Books for Little Hands.

Thanks for having me at your wonderful blog, Renee.

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

I had a nagging urge to write a particular novel for some time, but didn’t actually act on it until after the birth of my first baby, when I became a stay-at-home mum. I thought I would have heaps of time to write while looking after a baby and it was quite a shock to the system to discover otherwise. But I did join a writing group, the Lazy River Writers, who were very encouraging, and I slowly started to put pen to paper. It took me a few years to finish that novel manuscript – it was my way of leaning to write fiction. 

What was your journey to published author like?

When I first started to take my writing seriously, I didn’t actually set out to write for children, but my own little darlings inspired me by giving me an idea for a picture book. That idea, “Magic Mummy” became my first manuscript for children, and eventually my first published book. I know I was incredibly lucky to have my first story for children accepted for publication but it didn’t happen quickly - I had been writing other types of fiction for five-six years beforehand. I now ADORE writing for children.

What's the best part about writing for children?

Doing what I love and am passionate about, at the same time as being home for my children. I am able to fit my “creative” life around my “real” life.

What’s the hardest part about writing for children?
Having a manuscript I love rejected, and the fiscal challenge.

Tell us about your latest books.

I have had two picture books published in the last 12 months.

(1) An A to Z of Fairies, illustrated by Heath McKenzie and published by Little Hare Books (a division of Hardie Grant Egmont).

I had fun researching fairies and other magical creatures for this book. Inside, you’ll find the usual assortment of fairies, elves and pixies, but you’ll also find Dryads, Selkies, the wicked  Unseelie Court and the beautiful Xanas. This book
is for children who love fairies.
(2) The House of 12 Bunnies, co-authored with my daughter, Sarcia, illustrated by Judith Rossell, and also published by Little Hare Books (in Aust, NZ and the UK).

This book is special to me because I wrote it with my daughter (age 8 at the time). It is a fun counting book, filled with Judith’s adorable little bunnies. It has just been published, by Holiday House, in the US, and has been acquired by publishers in China, Taiwan, Korea and Germany, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Do you plan your picture books and if so how?

 Yes, I’m big on planning. I need to know where I’m going before I start. I like to have in mind the general arc of the story and how it will end. But I’m also okay with changing things during the editing process, if it will make my story more engaging.
When and where do you write?  

I write from home and I prefer a quiet environment to write. When my children were babies I wrote when they slept. My youngest daughter is now at school, so now I write during school hours.

What's next?  

I have another picture book due out next year, with the working title of “Mouse Circus”. My text for this book is now with the illustrator. I’m currently working on my first attempt at a Young Adult novel (fingers crossed something will become of it) and I have some other ideas for children’s books that I’m looking forward to working on. I’m very fortunate to be living a life that I love.
You can find out more about my writing by visiting my website:


Mary Preston said...

Both books looks wonderful!!

Neridah McMullin said...

Hi Renee, great interview. Caroline sounds like a very accomplished writer. Happy writing to you! Neridah :-)

Caroline Stills said...

Thank you for your lovely comments Marybelle and Neridah - so sorry I didn't notice them sooner.