Today, I’m chatting with Sarah Todd Taylor. Sarah’s work has appeared in several Honno anthologies, including, Mirror, Mirror,
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
My name is Sarah Todd Taylor and my début book, Arthur and Me was published by Firefly Press in October last year. It’s about a young boy who is being bullied at school who finds the sleeping King Arthur on a school trip. Convinced that the old hero will sort out all his problems, he wakes him up, only to find that Arthur has problems of his own and that the history books don’t always tell the truth. It’s a time-slip romp and very silly, but I hope people will see that at its heart it’s a story about friendship and about believing in yourself.
What advice do you have for writer’s just starting out?
Definitely write every day. It really is true that writing is like a muscle – the more you use it the more you find that the words flow freely.
The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is not to edit while doing my first draft. It used to take me far too long to write a first draft because I was trying to perfect it as I went along. I would get stuck in the detail and fed up with each project, then get despondent because I had a load of unfinished projects. Now I cut the first draft as quickly as possible to get the shape of the book, and then go back and rework until I’m happy.
Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book(s) and how long it took What does your writing space look like?
I’ve been a ‘scribbler’ all my life. Encouraged by a lovely teacher in my primary school I threw myself into writing and when I was ten I won ‘Writer of the Year’ in my Primary school. Most of my early teen writing was about an inept King ruling over a tiny imaginary country and making a hash of things through various schemes that never quite came to anything. Writing became a dream and when I was 13 my Dad caught me pushing the books aside in the ‘T’ section of our local bookshop. On being asked why I apparently said “They’re going to need some room for my books”. I was first published when I was 16 in the Cadbury’s Children’s Poetry competition anthology and the thrill of seeing my name in print was immense. Ever since then I’ve been scribbling away, helped by some fantastic local courses and a supportive writing community in Aberystwyth. I started to write short stories when I was doing my PhD and was thrilled when one was accepted for publication by Honno press. The desire to write for children, however, never left me. In my short stories I often dabble in a bit of magic. I like to make the world obey slightly different rules, and I think that’s what draws me to writing for children. It’s immense fun because you can be wackier and indulge your imagination so much. It’s also a huge challenge, because children will put up with a lot in fiction, but they will not abide being bored, so as a writer it keeps you on your toes.
What are your three favourite books including the authors?
My favourite children’s books are all ones I grew up with. I love Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and have far too many copies of it (including a pop up theatre, a facsimile of the original hand-written work and a treasured 1898 copy of Through the Looking Glass). I love the world that Carroll produced and the language is so playful.
I also love Michael Bond’s Paddington books. Paddington is such an instantly loveable character and I love how Bond uses his innocence and helpfulness to create humour.
Children’s books are having a fantastic resurgence right now, which is wonderful, and there are so many great ones out there that it will be difficult to choose just one favourite, but I do read and re-read the Lemony Snickett Series of Unfortunate Events, laughing out loud at them.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a detective series for 7-9s and a historical action adventure for 9-12s.
What has been your best moment as a writer?
The best moments are always when someone enjoys your work. A friend told me that when she took her children to a castle they ran around it shouting out scenes from the book and incorporating it into their play. That, to me, was one of the biggest compliments I could ever get.
Sarah with her new children’s’ book published by Firefly Press – new venture for Honno editor, Janet Thomas.
How much time a day do you spend on social media?
Probably too much. Facebook and Twitter have been fantastic, though, as a way of connecting with other writers and getting hints and tips from industry insiders. I am a member of a group of writers who all had their first book published over the age of 40. We met on Twitter and then in real life and we now chat regularly on Facebook. It’s a wonderfully supportive group of writers who I would never have met without social media.
Please share your social media links with us :
On Twitter I am @scraphamster. (because one of my hobbies is scrapbooking and I keep hamsters).
I also have a blog – https://sarahtoddtaylor.wordpress.com/