very privileged to welcome Philippa Rae to my blog today. We're
delighted at Chapeltown to be publishing her enchanting story for
children all about a certain Wilma, pictured above.
1. What do you write? Why this in particular?
I have enjoyed writing short stories and poetry. I am
an impatient type and get a buzz out of completing something quickly!
My natural instincts are to write humorous
pieces but, in the future, I would love to write a
fantasy novel. This is a challenge to set myself for the next couple
of years. I do have two half written longer books in my files, so I must
schedule in finishing those.
For example, I have a complete three act children’s play
(written for a school performance for a whole class) which I wrote a few
years ago sitting in my files which I am getting workshopped with a school
and three fifteen-minute animation scripts, one of which is now honed and ready
to be sent out.
2. What got you started on writing in the first place?
When I was in my last year at primary school I used to
enjoy writing stories in my lunchtime. I remember trying to write a Lord
of the Rings style piece!
However, my interest in dancing took over and it wasn’t
until I was working in the production team at Cbeebies Radio
that I started writing poems and stories in my scripts. Initially it was just
one or two, but it developed from there. Since then I have dipped in and
It has been trial and error finding the right
format for my style. Some things come easier than others though obviously
practice in anything makes perfect! Some people find their writer’s voice
early in the process. But initially I wrote for radio for a preschool
audience which is a specific craft of words interweaved with sounds. So,
in the past I suffered from a tendency to overwrite or be too matter of
fact as with radio explaining was the main way of signposting the
narrative. I had to relearn a different way for print production.
I also learned to let go of pieces and move onto the next project. It’s very easy to think after I could have
done this or that better or keep fiddling with something but sometimes its best
to just move on and do something else or hand it over to someone else to look
3. Do you have a routine?
I often write chunks in long hand and then type it up
again on the computer. I am the sort of writer that likes to write the
basic structure first and then keep adding as I hone the
Initially I was fixated on trying to find a
totally original idea till I realized that it was the
treatment which was the most important. The pressure of forcing
inspiration was creating writer’s block and I found after that things flowed
If you can find a totally original idea, then
wonderful but otherwise most things are often a mish mash of stuff we have
picked up. Usually we don’t realize where we have got the idea from!
I do carry a notebook as inspiration usually strikes
when you least expect it. Story development reminds me of a pickled
onion. It takes a while for things to ferment and then it’s great fun to peel off all the different layers
as the story falls into place.
The hardest thing I found with writing longer pieces
is that it is a solitary and disciplined process whereas I come from
a background of busy events and media production, so I am used to working in
teams with lots of people giving their opinions. Obviously, the publishing team has a big input into the
finished product but during the early stages it is mostly a solo job!
did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
I enjoy being involved in creative projects across a
range of mediums. I would probably describe myself more as
a content producer than specifically a writer.
I enjoy media production, creating content for websites and charity events and
promotions as well as writing for magazines.
I never set out to be a writer, it was being asked to
create pieces for my job that reminded me of my childhood. Even when
I was first published I wasn’t really thinking about writing as a full-time career but
an enjoyable sideline. I like entering competitions and have been quite
successful. But it is other people who place the emphasis on
this element though it is actually just one part of what I am interested in. It
would be nice though in the future to say that I was a full-time writer!
Writing has been on the backburner for me for a couple
of years because of a bereavement. I lost someone very close to me and then
unfortunately six months later I was diagnosed with advanced cancer in three
places, so I have just ticked along whilst I was undergoing treatment as I
wasn’t able to put in the necessary promotional work needed for books.
We all react to treatment differently and I found the
operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy very invasive and exhausting. I take
my hat off to all the inspirational individuals who manage to achieve great
things however challenging their circumstances, but I am a lousy patient and most definitely not very good as a tortured
artist toiling away – I write best and usually mostly when I’m happy!
Now I am in remission I am very grateful to be given a
second chance and so I have been working on the number of half-finished
projects I have accumulated and dipping in and out of over the last few
are you most proud of in your writing?
I have recently been trying classes that are in genres
outside my comfort zone to stretch and stimulate myself into some fresh
approaches. It’s a great way to perk up your brain!
In the past I attended an excellent picture book class
taken by authors Chrisytan and Diane Fox which helped me to pin down the
style needed for picture books, after having written so many short stories for
radio and magazines, this format was ingrained in me and hard to shake off.
In fact, Cinderella’s Other Shoe (with
wonderful cartoon drawings by Tevin Hansen) was originally written as
an exercise set in the class so I was delighted that we won the
Purple Dragon Fly Awards for best humour book.
you get on with editing and research?
I was once told that you learn most in the editing process and
this is true! I do have a bit of a blind spot sometimes no matter how
much I read something that I have written with typos escaping through!
I know that my better pieces are usually ones that I let
breathe for a couple of weeks before returning to them. Then I have allowed
some distance between myself and the work and am able to spot any mistakes!
writers have inspired you?
I enjoy reading work by many
different authors but people that spring to mind are the wonderful
rhyming books of Jeannie Willis as well as the unique picture
book styles of Oliver Jeffers and Emily Gravett. I wish I could
I don’t really like naming favourite authors as it means singling people out which is very hard when
there are so many great books. But I have been
writing reviews for Kidscene for nearly seven years and two classics that
spring to mind are Triangle and Wisp: A Story of Hope.
I also love the animated films. Two films that stick
in my mind are Chicken Run and Gnomeo and Juliet!
8. Do you have any goals for the future?
I do have three books scheduled for publication in
2019 and 2020 with three more in in development with publishers.
In my early career, I really enjoyed
teaching children dance and so I am in the process of developing some
workshops to take on the road which will be fun!
It’s great to be working with Bridge House and
Gill again. I have contributed to their anthologies in the past. Amongst other things, Gill has developed an
expertise in the short story market and producing collections for
charity. The stories that she is publishing with me are short
chapter books and I am really looking forwards to the first one – Wilma’s Magic Hat with
superb spooky illustrations by Ashley James.