You were born with one hand. How do you write?
(Yes, I get this question a fair amount.) I was born without part of my left arm (hand and part of my forearm missing). I type, pretty quickly really – much faster than my Dad – we did a sprint, and I won. It helped that he was only using two fingers (one from each hand, as he is slow, ha!). Fun fact – before the invention of the typewriter and the personal computer ALL authors wrote with one hand – because when we write things by hand very few people (except incredible ones) use both hands! While I’m not as fast as some – I do think writing isn’t just ‘typing’, it’s thinking and dreaming, plotting and planning …
Will you respond if I write you a letter?
Yes! It can take a while for post to reach me via my publisher (their address is on my contact form), but I do respond to written letters (please remember to include a return address).
I’m a teacher part one: Will you send my class a message?
Yes, get in touch. I can’t promise that I can send a video message as these take time, and I might be on deadline etc. Classes that send me a letter first, will be prioritised. If I don’t have the time for a video, I will send you a message you can read out.
I’m a teacher part two: I’m doing an author wall – can you send me a letter ?
Yes, get in touch. Though it is possible that I might be on deadline when the request comes in so expect a reply within two to three months (most likely sooner but I am conscious that there are very busy months, particularly in the summer when my major deadlines and events occur). Similarly, classes that send me a letter first, will be prioritised.
I’m a teacher part three: We are reading your book/s together as a class can you send us a small video message?
That’s wonderful, thank you very much! Get in touch and we can see what can be arranged – time and deadline permitting.
Do you have bookplates, bookmarks or Starfell merchandise – like the Oswin pin – that I can buy?
All of the Starfell merchandising I have had thus far have been for promotional use only, with the illustrations copyrighted to Sarah Warburton, which means I do not have permission to sell them, unfortunately.
However, I do regular giveaways and prizes with these when I have stock though so please do keep in touch and keep a look out. I usually announce them first on Twitter, so follow me there for this sort of thing.
Can I buy a signed book from you?
Yes! I can send a personalised signed copy of one of my paperback books for £10 including post and packaging (UK only). £14 for hardbacks. Contact me for details.
Can you provide display materials for my class, school or library?
If you check the resources section of my website there are lots of fun activities, including posters etc. I regularly update this with new materials. Please approach my publisher (HarperCollins in the UK) with any further requests.
I’m a book blogger / vlogger. Can you send me a review copy of your book?
Please approach my publisher (HarperCollins in the UK) with this type of request.
How and why did you become a writer – and what was your journey to publication?
I have always loved to read and when I was nine I made a promise to myself that I would become an author someday – after I discovered that books didn’t magically just appear and real people wrote them. I knew it’s what I wanted to do. The only trouble was: you know that kid who gets all the praise in the class, and the teacher reads out everything they write because it is just ‘so utterly beautiful and wonderful’? I sat next to that kid. Yep.
This bugged me. A lot. But thankfully I am stubborn. So I kept trying, even when no one saw my obvious genius (haha) and eventually by high school I was finally that kid, well, just a tiny bit. I had some poems and things selected for the school yearbook, small things really, but to me it was like winning the freaking Nobel Prize for Literature. I had been praise-deprived till then, see? I think it’s a good thing – because it set me up for later life. The writing journey, for most of us, is a long and winding road to ‘success’ (put in quotes because generally while many of us think of publication as the end goal, it’s really just the beginning!), and this was certainly the case for me. After high school I went to university where I read English, and afterwards I became a journalist where I learned how to be a writer – and how to develop a thick skin. To escape the stress I started writing Starfell, and that also took many years before I got a literary agent (publishers will not publish a book without one). It took around eight years to write, four years of submitting. Three to five re-writes. Close to 40+ agent rejections, and then finally I got an agent and then the weirdest thing happened – the book (that no one wanted at first) went on to a 7-publisher-auction. Moral of the story? Do not give up. Also, life is weird and sometimes wonderful.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I identified so much with Anne, her quest to feel wanted as an orphan felt similar to my own quest with my disability and wanting to feel accepted. She also had so many ideas and emotions bubbling away under her skin, was prone to day-dream, sensitivity, and ‘raptures of delight’. I think Anne taught me to love nature too – and it has always been one of the key themes in all my stories.
I’m a writer. Will you read my manuscript and give me feedback?
I’m sorry but due to my busy work load (apart from writing under my own name, I also write historical fiction under a pen name as Lily Graham) so I’m unable to do this. If you are writing a children’s book, I recommend seeking support and feedback through your local SCBWI community.
I’m a writer about to be published. Will you endorse my book with a quote?
I do love to read and support upcoming authors! So please do approach my agent with this type of request.
Illustrations by Sarah Warburton