Welcome to the eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with children’s author Sarahjane Funnell. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Sarahjane. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Sarahjane: My name is Sarahjane Funnell and I am originally from Plymouth. I love cats, ballet and shoes. Hummingbird Red Velvet Cupcakes and vintage tea cups. I am fascinated with books, in particular those set in fairytale worlds, funny scenarios and those with beautiful or creative illustrations. As a child I would always be ‘making things’ and I would write and make my own books out of paper and cello tape. I then studied BA Hons in Fashion Journalism from UCA Epsom and occasionally write freelance fashion reviews and features for The Hub magazine.
Morgen: Cupcakes are incredibly popular aren’t they. I get the impressions it’s an American influence but we must have had them over here for years. What genre do you generally write?
Sarahjane: I mainly write children’s fiction for 3-5 and 9-12 age ranges usually with some kind of fantasy or magical world with lots of imaginary characters, princesses, castles, enchantment and wondrous happenings. I would like to also write chick lit.
Morgen: Chick lit’s fun. My second NaNoWriMo novel (a 117,540 one, in the month!) is chick lit. It did make it easier have some fun with it. What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Sarahjane: I have one children’s story published to-date within the magical anthology A Pocketful of Moondust published by Rebel Books LLP. My story is Princess Rose and The Royal Tea Castle, about a young princess who lives in a magical teapot-shaped castle in the land of Prettypont. With regards to the marketing this is something the publisher is in charge of, however I have utilized sources available to me and managed to secure an author profile piece in the newspaper of my original home town of Plymouth. The book A Pocketful of Moondust is available from Waterstones.com, however I managed to secure several copies to be in Plymouth’s two Waterstones bookshops.
Morgen: Wow, well done. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Sarahjane: I don’t currently have an agent however I am actively seeking representation. I feel an agent is key to an author’s success as they are able to advise authors and communicate directly with publishers on the author’s behalf, ensuring work is seen by the appropriate people.
Morgen: I think most of them do earn their keep. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Sarahjane: As far as I am aware, the book A Pocketful of Moondust is currently not available as an eBook so I am not familiar with that process. eBooks are something I wish to learn more about and an avenue I would like to pursue if I enter the self-publishing route. I don’t currently read eBooks as I like to keep a book in my bag and I like the feel of turning the pages. I also spend all day on a computer at work so I prefer to read from a book.
Morgen: Many people do, although like having both. I do love the fact I can have 400+ books with me at all times. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Sarahjane: My first acceptance was for A Pocketful of Moondust and is currently my only acceptance. To find out my story was to be in a published book was astounding. Something I thought might never happen and even after I signed the contract I didn’t quite believe it would happen until I had my author copy.
Morgen: 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Sarahjane: I have had several rejections for both the story I had published, and for other stories I have written and each time the self-addressed envelope I have enclosed is returned it is very disheartening. I do believe that perseverance is key along with timing and tenacity. I make a list of who I have submitted to, the date and their response.
Morgen: Very wise. The worst thing to do is send it out to two different places and have them both say “yes”. Whilst it sounds great, you then have to let one of them down and editors have good memories. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sarahjane: I am working on many stories at the moment! My head is always filled with ideas. The main story I am working on is for the 9-12 age range and features a young girl who solves mysteries in a magical land.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Sarahjane: I try to write everyday. I work full time as a Press Assistant so I’m always writing, however in terms of writing my books, I try to be proactive and use my Iphone as a tool during the daily commute. I type ideas or parts of story chapters into the notebook app and then email it to myself so I can copy it into Word when I get home. I try and work for several hours at the weekend.
Morgen: You say that your head is always filled with ideas, what’s your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Sarahjane: If I ever have writer’s block it’s because I am not in the frame of mind to write, such as being tired or having other things on my mind. I don’t tend to suffer from a lack of ideas, more too many ideas so I have to focus and write bullet points in my notebook. If I need a break or have a lack of concentration I make a cup of milky tea.
Morgen: I’m same although I have weak tea with a little bit of milk / sugar. 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Sarahjane: I usually have an idea, try to put a few notes in my writing book so I don’t forget anything if I think of several stages of the story all at once, then just go with whatever I want to write on my laptop or in the notebook.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Sarahjane: I’d like to think all my ideas will be finished however sometimes ideas can be put on hold if more appropriate or time pertinent ideas develop. There will always be ideas that won’t develop but that’s due to a lack of hours in the day.
Morgen: I know that feeling. 🙂 What’s your favourite aspect of your writing life?
Sarahjane: When ideas just roll and fit into place and then more ideas spiral further. Then, when the story is finished and there is nothing I would change that is a great feeling of accomplishment. An even better feeling is the knowing that a child will read that story and hopefully gain enjoyment and inspiration.
Morgen: Isn’t that great. I love it when I get a review (ideally a good one but I’ve had both extremes) or email. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sarahjane: To keep writing. Experimenting with ideas and styles. Find a system that suits you so you can incorporate your writing within a busy life schedule!
Morgen: 300 words = 100,000 over a year is a good motivation. What do you like to read?
Sarahjane: I read fashion books, interior books, chick lit (I love Amy’s Honeymoon by Julia Llewellyn, I read children’s picture books and am a massive fan of Lauren Child. Her rendition of the Princess and the Pea is fantastic and the illustrations capture my imagination completely.
Morgen: 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Sarahjane: The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook is essential.
Morgen: A great book, I update mine every other year (the latest editions usually come out in July). You say you’re originally from Plymouth, where are you now and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Sarahjane: I am based in London, UK and this is a fantastic city to be in. With publishers on my doorstep I can physically hand deliver a manuscript!
Morgen: But not at 3am presumably. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Sarahjane: I am on Twitter (@sarahjanestyle), which is a fantastic networking source and direct source of instant information. I also use it was a way of keeping a record of informative tweets I can reference back to. By re-tweeting, that tweet can then be re read at a later date.
Morgen: Isn’t it great. I tend to leave mine on mentions though as the timeline flies past far too quickly, and I get swept along with it if I’m paying attention. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Sarahjane: I have a blog set up which I use as both an online portfolio and a Fashion/Lifestyle Ezine. www.theenchantedpages.blogspot.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Sarahjane: Lewis Carroll will always be a genius. Always find your inner Alice and be curious. Without curiosity you will never know the question in life, let alone the answer.
Morgen: I love that. 🙂 Thank you, Sarahjane.
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