Today I'd like to introduce you to, Catherine Elizabeth Rose, (pen name: C.E. Trueman), author of The Bone Cradle and Grey Amber, the first two books in a children's trilogy.
I first met Catherine a few years ago as we were both using the same publisher, Pen Press, for our books. We were attending a marketing seminar in Brighton. Catherine was sitting on my left hand side and Helen Bonney, another children's book writer who I'll be introducing you to soon, was sitting on my right hand side. We all got on very well and attended the London Book Fair together in 2007.
Since that time we have remained friends and I have had the pleasure of reading both of Catherine's books. They are the type of children's books that can also be enjoyed just as much by adults.
Today is Catherine's birthday. Happy Birthday, Catherine!!
As well as answering my questions, Catherine has very generously agreed to give away a copy of The Bone Cradle and a copy of Grey Amber! More details about that at the end of the interview.
Here are her replies to my interview questions:
Is there a particular author, or book, that inspired you to start writing?
As a child I was very inspired by Roald Dahl. I can remember reading James and the Giant Peach when I was five and being completely captivated. I used to love the way that Dahl’s heroes, who were children themselves, were able to go on fantastic journeys of discovery. Today, I am still in awe of his imagination. I think Dahl had a gift for seeing the world through a child’s eyes.
When did you first discover your love of writing?
I first discovered a love of writing when I was around seven years old. I would make books at home and fill them with stories and poetry. I still have notebooks from my childhood and brought them in to show other aspiring writers when I was invited to give talks for two years running at my daughter’s school.
Do you have an tips for someone who is considering self-publishing their own book?
I would advise anyone who is thinking of self publishing their book to shop around and see what deals are available. Make sure you look at the quality of the publisher’s product. If the end result appears shoddy or badly printed on poor quality paper then no matter how good your story is or how successful the marketing, that will put readers off. Look at the front covers of their titles. Is the artwork eye catching and well done, or is it uninspiring? The front cover is the first thing that attracts a reader’s eye and moreover, it needs to sell your story.
As well as publishing two children’s books, I know that you are also a poet, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I have been writing poetry since I was a child and over the years, have won several competitions. My first poems were published in Pause, the magazine for the National Poetry Foundation during the 1980s. Its patron was the late Spike Milligan. Since then I have gone on to have poems published in several mixed anthologies. You can find details on my page at Authors Register. I have also done readings and was asked to do a poetry workshop at my local primary school, following which they named a table after me!
Which do you prefer, writing children’s books or poetry?
I think I probably prefer to write poetry as I enjoy using descriptive language and imagery. Poetry writing is like whittling. You keep shaving away the excess until you end up with something which is skillfully pared down, beautiful and unambiguous.
I have read both of the first two books in your trilogy, The Bone Cradle and Grey Amber, and thoroughly enjoyed them. They are certainly educational as well as gripping adventure stories. I imagine a lot of research had to be done about the various subjects contained in the books. How long did each book take you to write?
It took me about six months to write each book and yes, I did lots of research. When I wrote Grey Amber, I did some travelling, driving as far west as it’s possible to go in the UK without actually being in Ireland . I ended up staying in a cottage at Llanrian so that I could get a feel for the Welsh setting which is a huge part of the book.
How much can you tell us about the third book in the trilogy that you’re currently working on?
The third book centres around the search for Dylan as Matt and Ollie are given this task by Tobias at the end of Grey Amber. I visited the East Coast of America last summer which was a huge whaling centre in the 19th and 20th centuries so I am thinking of setting part of the novel there. It’s evolving!
What is the target age-group for your children’s trilogy?
The target age group is 9 – 12 years although I know of many adults who have read and love the books, which is great.
Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their writing that you like?
If a writer can make me catch my breath, or shed tears, or leave me with a delicious aftertaste for a prolonged time, then I know they are doing a good job as a writer. Wordsmiths that have done this for me are Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, David Almond, Sarah Walters, Michael Armstrong and Sylvia Plath but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Is there a book you own that you’ve read more than once?
There are far too many books to read more than once. If I read a story that moves or inspires me, then the memory of it lingers and I feel that the impact may be lessened on a subsequent read so I don’t tend to.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was The Spare Room by Helen Garner. It was well written and poignant, and its characters also frustrated me immensely which I think was the author’s point.
Are you reading a book at the moment?
I am not reading anything right now although I have several books that are ‘in waiting’.
What do you think of ebooks?
I think that e-books are the way the publishing world is going, and for the author it may be good news as it will mean more direct sales, cutting out the middle men who cream off so much of an author’s profit. It will also mean that as readers we will have far less clutter in our homes! (I have shelves and shelves of paper and hardbacks which I can’t part with). Books will be able to become more interactive with additional layers of information contained in them at a click, which is especially useful for further explanation of the different educational aspects in The Bone Cradle trilogy for example. So apart from the fact I am a total technophobe and find it difficult to work a TV remote control, I think the advent and growth of e-books is an exciting new era.
How important are reviews for you as a writer?
I hate the fact that reviews can make or break an artistic endeavour – whether it is a book, film, or art. I think there are a lot of creative people out there, and an equal number of non-creative people who have given themselves the right to condemn in a few paragraphs something which may have taken months, if not years, of hard work. At the end of the day all appreciation of art is subjective so it can only be an opinion. On the other hand, some books can be over-hyped, especially those written by celebrities or more commonly their ghost writers. These will then sell in their thousands whether they are good or not because people are taken in by the hype. I like to think that critics are transient but good books last lifetimes. The trick is to get the good book out there and I’m afraid sometimes, critics don’t help.
How do you go about choosing a cover for your books?
In choosing the covers for my books, I was lucky in that the artist that my publisher used is very talented and intuitive. She came up with the most perfect cover suggestions that any author could wish for. They surpassed my expectations in fact and to this day I have no regrets that I went with the initial designs. I still love to look at them.
What else are you working on now?
Apart from some poems and the third book in The Bone Cradle trilogy, I am not working on anything at the moment.
Where can people buy your books?
You can buy my books: The Bone Cradle and its sequel Grey Amber, on Amazon and lots of other book websites. If you go to Book Butler, and put in the title of the book, it will tell you where it is available to buy. You would also be able to order them from any high street bookstore.
Do you have your own website or blog where people can read more about your work?
I have a page at Authors Register. I also have a MySpace account at MySpace that contains a blog of musings and poetry written over the past three years. Additionally, I write the Memory Lane page for my local newspaper, The Biggleswade Chronicle, and my articles can be read on their website at Biggleswade Today under Nostalgia.
Catherine is giving away one copy of The Bone Cradle and one copy of Grey Amber (Print copies in the UK and pdf copies for international winners).
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment here for Catherine.