The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian: Author Interview: Gail Clarke

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Gail Clarke and have her visit students at my school for two years now thanks to a wonderful connection, I teach with her daughter! Gail has written and illustrated three lovely books that connect to migration, ecology, and animals. They are pretty special books that my students enjoy, mostly they fall in love with the characters and want to go do more research on the animal Gail has written about…

Parrot

Parrot

Cosmos the Curious Whale

Cosmos the Curious Whale

This year, she’s promoting her new book, Cosmos the Curious Whale. It is a special little book which includes a whale that has faith in himself, even when he’s wrong, learns from his mistakes, and goes on special adventures as well. I’ve enjoyed reading Cosmos with my son who just loved reading the story, more than a few times now. Gail had an art contest in which she invited any of her student readers to turn in pictures of fish, and she included those pictures at the beginning and end of her book, and additionally, a few winning fish were included on a beautiful page spread within the book as well. My son has flipped to the page with HIS picture and pointed it out more than a few times!

kiddo's image

kiddo’s image

I asked him to share what he thought about Gail’s books, surprised he didn’t show the page when we made this quick video:

Overall Picture

I asked Gail if she was willing to have an interview and luckily, she said yes!
*If you’re interested in purchasing or looking deeper into Gail Clarke’s books, please visit here: http://www.gailclarkeauthor.com/books/

Gail Clarke

Gail Clarke

Please enjoy Gail Clarke’s Interview:

What was your favorite childhood book memory?

‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll (or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) possibly one of the earliest children’s fantasy writers. I loved the mix of word play, nonsense rhymes, logic and fanstasy. I can still quote most of the rhymes by heart even if I can’t remember where I put my glasses or what day of the week it is. Perhaps this is where my love of rhyme began.

 

Are there any authors or books that you liked as a child that you still read now?

Of course I still love Alice and revisit Lewis Carroll quite regularly – I have much-treasured, very early editions of both books with original illustrations.

I became addicted to Jane Austen at about the age of 13. Miraculous really since we usually vow never to revisit anything we were forced to read at school at that age. I still read all the Austen books every couple of years and always find something new to enjoy.

Have you read any children’s literature books recently?

The children’s section – especially the pictures books – are my first stop in any book shop. I love Julia Donaldson, Jon Klassen, Eric Carle, Michael Rosen, Lauren Child and I absolutely love browsing different styles of illustration from collage to water colour to digital painting. These days book shops cater so brilliantly for children providing space for them to sit and browse and encouraging a love of books from a very early age. I do find the chairs a little on the small side though!!

Patrick's Birthday Message

Patrick’s Birthday Message

What was a favorite genre you read as a child?  How have your tastes changed as an adult?

I loved anything about magic, animals and adventures. As we didn’t have television when I was young (it had been invented but we didn’t have one!) My father used to read to me a lot (mostly children’s classics) which is one of my most cherished childhood memories. Books have changed so much over the last half-century but I still love the classics: Dickens, Austen, Mary Elizabeth Bradden, Trollope, George Elliot … but I am happy to say I finally managed to take a leap into 20th and 21st century during the last ten years – and am really enjoying some ‘modern reads’.

Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?

Yes, my ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ as well as a few collections of fairy tales. And I think I could lay my hands on ‘Now We are Six’ by AA Milne and an old copy of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ whose heffalump tale still makes me smile!

Are you in a writers group? If so, has it helped you?

No, I’m not but I think it would be a great idea. As I travel a lot I might look for one on-line. Having other people to bounce ideas off is always very helpful – especially if it’s constructive.

Searching for Skye

Searching for Skye

Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?

The very worst thing is to think ‘I must THINK of a new idea’. If you try too hard the ideas just don’t happen and you end up gazing aimlessly at a computer screen for hours!

If you have an idea for a story drop everything and go with it. (Sometimes my best ideas come when I’m doing mundane things like laundry!)

Always carry a note book around just in case. I know it’s old-fashioned but you can’t beat pencil and paper sometimes and they don’t run out of power or lose your work before you’ve remembered to ‘save’ it!

My best advice is: WRITE, WRITE, WRITE get the ideas down no matter how haphazardly and then REFINE, REFINE, REFINE.

Do you have a new book being released in the next year?

Yes. I am working on a new picture book for young children – it’s also in rhyme and is set in the rainforest. For now, the rest is a secret! And I’m talking to Shark Guardians about writing some shorter stories for them, which is very exciting. (Fingers crossed!)

Cosmos the Curious Whale

Cosmos the Curious Whale

How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?

Actually I love my kindle. I never thought I would but travelling so much it’s an absolute marvel. Nothing will ever replace the look feel and smell of a real book but when real books aren’t available e-books are a great alternative especially in Thailand where the choice of reading material is very limited.

Did you always plan on a writing career or if not…?

Not at all. I was a teacher for more than thirty-five years and loved it. Now I am a children’s writer, illustrator and storyteller I enjoy the best of both worlds – I write and illustrate my own picture books and then I present them to children in school which is a huge pleasure and absolutely the BEST fun imaginable!

Cosmos end pages

Cosmos end pages

What truly influences you as a writer?

Nature, animals, poetry, pictures, photos, news stories and generally keeping my eyes and ears open…

If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?

I really can’t imagine anything I’d like as much as what I do now and as I am already retired, I’d probably be a little old lady in a rocking chair!

Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?

Not really. I think my children were the ones who kept saying, “Why don’t you write a children’s book?” They aren’t children any more but happily they do have children of their own so my books are dedicated to my grandchildren.

*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? 

I’m not a great pizza lover (shocking for someone who lives in Italy for six months every year, I know.) but when I do; something spicy is very, very nicey!

Chat with parrot

Chat with parrot

Sentences to finish if you don’t mind:

The best advice I’ve received for my profession was….

Go on. Give it a try.

The habit I never break for my writing practice is…

On writing days I always go to my ‘little house’ in the garden in Italy. There are no distractions there and the view is spectacular across our Tuscan valley. If the ideas flow it’s fabulous and if they don’t I have something beautiful to look at!

If someone had told me…

I’d have a second career as a writer, illustrator and storyteller for children I never would have believed them!

Larger parrot

Larger parrot

Why do people always assume…

(I am talking about children here)

That you have to be young to be a writer! Most frequently asked questions are;

How old are you? To which the answer is “Not nearly as old as I am going to be one day”

And

Are you famous? To which the answer is, “No, but when I am greeted so enthusiastically by hundreds of children in school I FEEL famous.”

Parrot

Parrot

Debbie, you forgot to ask me… 

Which school I enjoyed visiting the most! (No prizes for guessing the answer to that one, all thanks to your superb organisation!)

Thank you so much to Gail Clarke not only for the lovely author visit and being an inspiration for my student writers and readers, but also for patiently answering my interview questions, not once, but twice when your computer initially absconded with them… Quite grateful!

*If you’re interested in purchasing or looking deeper into Gail Clarke’s books, please visit here: http://www.gailclarkeauthor.com/books/

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