MEET ANOTHER ONE OF OUR AMAZING EVERYDAY PEOPLE AUTHOR SYLVA FAE!
We’d love to introduce you to the fabulous author of our Rainbow Monsters Series of books, Sylva Fae: a married mum of three girls, from the north of England. Sylva has spent most of her career as a college lecturer, teaching literacy to adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. She now works from home as a writer, beta reader and developmental editor.
MANY OF SYLVAS IDEAS COME FROM HER CHILDREN. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHAT INSPIRES HER…
What made you start writing?
Adventures in our woodland inspired me to tell stories to my girls. All of the places in my stories are based on real places in our wood, places we’ve explored and given magical names to. The characters come from observations of my own children’s behaviour mixed with ideas from their imaginations. I’ve always thought of myself as a secret writer but I’ve only just come out publicly. Explaining to other mums in the playground that you are a writer often gets bemused looks. It’s taken the publication of my first book to give me the confidence to call myself a writer.
How old were you when you started writing stories?
I’ve always loved writing, but I first started telling children’s stories when my daughter was a toddler, I was around 36 at the time. It’s taken ten years to go from telling stories to my daughters, to writing them down, then publishing them.
What is your book about?
My first book is about a group of Rainbow Monsters who slide down the rainbow to play whenever there is a sunny rainy day. Each one has a different character, based on my own children’s quirks. This book uses fun rhymes to help children learn about the colours of the rainbow.
My second book, Mindful Monsters, uses the rainbow monster characters to teach children about mindfulness. It’s important for our little monsters to learn how to be kind to others and look after themselves.
Where did you get your ideas from?
My children are my biggest inspiration. My middle daughter in particular has inspired me with a peculiar habit she has – a nightly bedtime monologue. In those last few moments when she’s supposed to be settling down, she feels she has to get a full day’s worth of chatter out of her head so she can sleep. It starts with recounting her day and gets more and more fantastical the sleepier she gets. She often falls asleep mid-sentence but somewhere in her magical chatter, she’ll give me an instruction to write a story including certain things – a happy story with rainbows and monsters, or a wishing story with naughty unicorns… I listen and note the features that are important to a child.
I’m also inspired by being out in my woods, watching the seasons change and slowing down to notice the little things. I love getting my children away from the television and other technology, seeing them run free, climb trees and make dens. It’s great to listen in on the games they make up and the characters they create.
What do you find challenging in your writing?
I often write in rhyme, sometimes it is challenging to tell the story with relevant rhymes, while keeping a rhythm that is fun to read out loud.
I also tend to have free-range punctuation marks! I’m sure they roam around when I’m not looking. My editor would suggest to you that I’m rubbish at punctuation but I blame it on the rainbow monsters.
Who and what has influenced you?
Many people have influenced me, firstly my mum, who read to me every day throughout my childhood. She started my love of reading and taught me to read before I started school. Having my own children now, means my home is filled with children’s storybooks. Reading to my girls gives me a great insight into what is current and interesting at each age.
More recently, since I started publishing books myself, I have been influenced by the lovely authors in the Indie Author Support and Discussion group. In particular, I am inspired by a small group of talented children’s authors – Nathan GK, author of the Harry the Happy Mouse Books, Paul Ian Cross, Suzanne Downes, Kate Robinson, Nick Jones and Patricia M Ahern, who all have books available through the Everyday People Books magazine. Each one has a different style and all have been supportive and fun to work with.
Do you have a favourite book/ author?
It’s so difficult to choose a favourite author. Some of my favourite authors of the last few years are Lesley Hayes, Nico Laeser, Eric Lahti and Val Tobin.
As a child, I loved all of Enid Blyton’s books, especially her adventure series. The Borrowers has a special place in my heart, I truly believed borrowers were real and left things out for them at bedtime. They were always gone by morning so I guess they must have been real. I loved the sassy and confident character of Pippi Longstocking, she was different and not afraid to be herself.
Please visit my blog by clicking on the link below for a list of books from my childhood that have continued to have an impact on my adult life.
Why do you love reading?
Reading gives me the chance to escape reality and go on adventures from the comfort of my cosy sofa.
How many books have you written?
I have two children’s picture books published – Rainbow Monsters and Mindful Monsters. I recently published a Children’s Christmas Collection which included stories from Paul Ian Cross (another Bedtime Stories author), Kate Robinson and Suzanne Downes. I am currently writing a young adult book under the pseudonym EA Darl, for the Silent Lands series. EA Darl is a collaboration between three authors. My first published story was part of ‘You're Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology’. I was inspired to join this project as it gave me the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of authors and raised money for Macmillan.
How many books would you like to write?
I never want to stop writing!
Are you working on a book at the moment? What is it about?
I have several rhyming stories aimed at four to six year olds, ready for illustration. I’m in the process of writing three chapter books for early readers and a woodland activities for parents. When I get time I also write a blog, Sylvanian Ramblings, about our adventures in the woods https://sylvafae.co.uk/blog/
What are your future plans?
I want to illustrate all the stories I have already written and get them published. I’m looking forward to two collaborative projects with children’s authors Nathan GK and James Milson.
What is your favourite part of being an author?
I love it when I hear from children who have read my stories. Knowing my stories are being enjoyed is what makes it all worthwhile.
How long did it take you to write your book?
I can actually write a children’s picture book quite quickly, in maybe a week or so. It’s the illustrating and formatting of the book that takes all the time.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write every day and have fun with it. Write with an audience in mind and use independent beta readers to give you honest feedback. Taking criticism of your hard work is difficult but it can really help you connect with your audience.
Be prepared to either learn the whole process, from planning, writing, formatting to publishing and marketing, or pay to have experts take on the areas you struggle with – not everyone is going to land a publisher who will do everything for them. This doesn’t have to be a formidable challenge though, there are some great groups out there in socialmedialand full of indie authors willing to advise and support you. Alone it is a daunting task, but together indie authors can achieve great things.
Most of all, enjoy it!
We are running a competition where children can write a story which will be made into a book. Do you have any advice you can give to the children?
Write from your heart and have fun with it. Let your imagination lead you wherever it wants to go. Use your emotions in your writing and remember to use all your senses in your descriptions.
As part of our competition we also need an illustrator. Who was your illustrator and how important were they in the production of your book?
I illustrated my own books. I did a lot of research into illustrators, and it costs a lot of money to get a professional. There are ways to get cheap illustrations but I didn’t want to compromise on quality, which is why I ended up doing my own. When I write, I have a vision in my head of each scene and character. In illustrating my own stories, I can recreate that vision.
When you are not writing how do you like to relax?
When I’m not reading or writing for myself, I love helping other authors to achieve their dreams.
My husband and I own a wood where we run survival courses and woodland craft days. We escape to the woods at every possible opportunity to enjoy the peace and fresh air. My husband busies himself making fire and chopping logs, while I take the girls off on adventures in their own enchanted woodland, hunting for fairies and stomping in muddy puddles.
When not writing or chasing three muddy girls through the woods, I like to geek out on cryptology puzzles and ciphers. I’m proud to have won the US Navy cryptology challenge two years running.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m proud to be involved in Bedtime Stories – a storytelling app for parents. My storyworld That Pesky Pixie was released on the 16th of February this year. Each storyworld comprises of five linked stories, with information and instructions for parents on how to tell the stories to their children.
Both Rainbow Monsters and Mindful Monsters are available from Everyday People Books for only £4:00 each.