Today I’m welcoming Sylva Fae whom I’ve met through our work for “You’re Not Alone”, an anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care. This interview is part of a series of blog posts to introduce my colleagues in this endeavour. The anthology is available for pre-order and will be released on July 11. Twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, show your support by liking the new page on Facebook and expressing an interest in buying the book.
You’ll find the book on your Amazon for per-order via these links: http://smarturl.it/YoureNotAloneAnth http://bookshow.me/B00Y5RCOOE
You’ll find the Facebook page here:
And here is the fund, in loving memory of Pamela Mary Winton
I am a mum of three small girls and loving it. I love being outdoors in the countryside so when my first daughter was little, we bought a small woodland. Friends thought we were crazy to buy woodland just for fun, maybe we are slightly crazy, but it has been the best thing we have ever done. Our wood is hidden away in the Shropshire countryside, far away from our real and sensible lives. It is our magical haven, a place for adventures and the inspiration for writing stories for my little girls.
Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?
When we first bought the wood we really didn’t know what we were doing but we learnt quickly and embraced the new lifestyle. My husband busied himself doing ‘man-things’ with axes and making fires while I entertained our little one. We explored, creating new paths each time and discovering exciting places. Together we mapped out the wood, naming our special places as we stopped to play. Little toddler legs cannot wander far so we’d stop frequently for an adventure and all the while I drew upon my memories of beloved childhood stories and recounted them for my daughter. We found the tree throne where the fairy king of the wood sits, we made fairy gardens in Bluebell Bank and listened to the trees to hear what stories they had to tell. Remembered stories from The Faraway Tree and the Beatrix Potter animal antics gave way to made up ‘mummy stories’ about our magical adventures with the animals and fairies of the wood. Any parent will know how difficult it is to keep spirited children entertained on long car journeys! I discovered that my stories kept her engaged and content, in fact she preferred our ‘mummy stories’ because they were about her and the secret places we’d discovered and named together. Daughter number two came along shortly after and our stories grew to include her. They became my little woodland fairies and seeing the woodlands through their eyes was far more magical than I could ever have imagined. When my third little girl arrived I decided to start writing some of these stories down.
Last summer I ventured onto Twitter with the aim of learning how to get a children’s book published. Author Lesley Hayes was one of my first followers and has been there giving advice and support from the beginning. She recommended that I start a blog and introduced me to the Indie Author group. My husband has always been supportive of everything I do, and being the technical one in the family, set me up with a blog. He is always on hand with tech support when I accidentally ‘break’ stuff and is great at weeding out random commas.
When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)?
The combination of having three children to entertain and having the woodland for inspiration, it was only natural that I chose children’s stories. My stories started off suitable for a three year old but have grown as my children have aged.
Tell us about the concept behind your stories. How did you get the idea?
As little legs grew our woodland rambles became longer and more adventurous. My girls and I set off hunting for fairies and ended up at the bottom corner of the wood, a forest of ferns towering above the girls’ heads hides the world beyond. We decided to wade through to see what was on the other side. Imaginations ran wild as we carefully parted fern fronds – maybe a magical land like Narnia, would there be dragons, unicorns or talking animals? Of course I could see quite clearly over the top but watching the excitement of discovery through their eyes as we emerged on the other side was just magical. You get used to the shade under the trees so breaking through the dense ferns into the bright sunshine over a huge field was amazing. The girls ran and ran until exhausted then collapsed in the long grass of our Secret Field. Discovering the world beyond the woods led to new adventures and the field has become a favourite place. It is a great place to view the woods and appreciate the changing of the seasons. In spring we found a magic clover patch and pick a four-leaf treasure every time we need a wish. In summer we lie in the grass searching for mystical creatures in the clouds chasing mermaids and cloud dragons across the sky while we feast on sorrel. Autumn is great for foraging, the hedges rich in blackberries and chestnuts (if you can beat the squirrels) and winter is fabulous for stomping through muddy puddles. All these experiences provide so many story ideas and seeing the world through the eyes of small children adds the magic. My girls also love getting involved with planning a story and frequently give their demands. “I want a story with a rainbow and fairies in time for breakfast.”
What is your life like outside of writing?
When we’re not having adventures with our own children, we run children’s woodland adventure days and woodland survival courses for young adults. I love pottering around the woods taking photographs of the creatures we find on our rambles. During the week I work as an English teacher for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. I am a PTA mum and can often be found running fundraising events or face painting at school discos. I also love reading but get so little time for it nowadays.
My children make me laugh most of all. My middle daughter is so like me as a child – clumsy, messy and always mucky! If there is a puddle to fall in, she’ll be the one. All three are little drama queens, they sing, dance and giggle all day long. It’s hard not to laugh at their antics.
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
I would invite some of the friends I have met through social media. It would be interesting to see if we all got on so well in real life or whether our friendships only exist on a screen.
I asked my daughters this question and they said they’ll make some up for me. I’ll let you know.
What are you working on now?
I have always got at least one story in my head, one being written and notes for several others. Right now I’m working on a series of rhyming stories that encourage sharing, friendship and helping one another.
Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
My stories would best suit a cartoon series and my daughters would have be the inspiration for any cheeky pixie and fairy characters.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
I love how the ideas flood in whenever I am having adventures with my daughters. I enjoy writing them down and reading them back to the girls – my biggest critics. The trouble is that because I only share them with my girls and time is short, I never polish my stories, I just move straight on to the next. Someday I will have to tackle my dodgy punctuation. I have so many stories ready to be illustrated and published, but just no time to do it. I know once I do the first it will spur me on to do more, but for now, I’m just having fun writing.
Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.
I am mostly odd according to my friends. I have a fascination with numbers; nice even numbers or palindromic numbers but palindromic dates / times are my favourite. I set alarms and timers to nice times. I even wait until my alarm clock changes to 07.30 rather than get up at 07.28. I am obsessed with being on time but I’m married to a man who lives in his own time zone and has no concept of time in the real world.
My favourite authors are Lesley Hayes, Eric Lahti and Max Power. My favourite children’s authors are NGK author of ‘Harry the Happy Mouse’ and Michelle R. Eastman author of ‘The Legend of Dust Bunnies – A Fairy’s Tale’ – my girls went to school dressed as dust fairies for World Book Day this year.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading Lesley Hayes’ ‘A Field Beyond Time’ for me, Anni Stewart’s ‘The Sea Witch’ with my eldest and a random selection of picture books with my littlies.
What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?