Sophie Price Joins CWLA

Sophie Price is the newest member of the authors at CWLA and we interviewed her to get more insight into her writing and inspirations! Read on for the interview.

1. Do any of the books you write come from your own childhood?

Not in a direct sense, but aspects of my childhood, upbringing and lived experiences trickle through into my work, sometimes without me even realising it. I write fantasy, but by drawing on my own experiences and feelings, it helps me to ground my characters in reality and make my stories feel solid, honest and real. 

2. What are your top tips for writing a children’s book? 

Read children’s books! There’s an absolute wealth of fantastic children’s books being published every single day, it’s hard to keep up but I do my best! Reread your childhood favourites and remind yourself what it is about them that got you spellbound, but find out what today’s kids are reading too. Knowing what’s out there and what’s getting kids excited to read can be a big motivation and inspiration.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you reflect this in your writing?

I draw a lot of inspiration from fairytales and folklore. Nursery rhymes, folk songs and even superstitions are so woven into our cultures that quite often we don’t remember how we learned them to begin with, and I think that’s really special. Everyone has their own way of telling these tales, and there are always new ways to tell them which I find very inspiring. I’m also very inspired by the animal tales of my childhood such as The Wind in The Willows, Brambly Hedge and The Animals of Farthing Wood.

4. Which people or books have had the greatest impact on your growth as an author? Why? 

My friends and family have been immeasurably helpful in nurturing my writing and helping me to grow, but I’ve been especially lucky to have been mentored by authors Hannah Kates and Reena Deen in the WriteMentor Summer Mentorship 2021. Having two like-minded authors work with me on my manuscript was invaluable, and they helped me to constantly question and challenge myself and make every word count. Growing up I was hugely inspired by authors like Darren Shan and Michelle Paver, but some books that have recently inspired me are Jenni Spangler’s The Vanishing Trick and Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies. I love a good villainess! 

5. What are 3 things which anyone starting in your industry should know? 

One: Writing takes time and requires endless patience. I have been working on the same book for the past five years and counting, and most writers would say that’s a very short amount of time! But if you love writing and you love your story, you will find the time and the patience to work on it. 

Two: Connect with other writers. Other writers are your allies, not your competition, and being able to talk to and share with other like-minded people is helpful and inspiring. Having other people on hand who understand the emotional roller coaster that is writing can help you through all of the highs and lows.

And Three: Read and write for pleasure. As a writer, writing becomes work, which can sometimes really drain your creativity. Work hard at your writing and read for research, but take time to read a guilty pleasure book now and then and write something fun for yourself too!

6. What are some challenges you face in your field of work and how do you overcome them? 

I am not a “plotter” at all, I do my best writing when I’m making it up as I go and seeing where it takes me, but that often means I’m left with a few plot holes and messes at the end. But realising that you can form a plan at the end instead of the beginning was a game-changer for me. I can then go back and clean up my own messes with a stronger sense of the story I am trying to tell. I also often get hit with moments of low motivation where I’m lacking in inspiration, but one way I tackle this is by making playlists for my stories that I can listen to, to try and kickstart my creativity.

7. Do children around you strongly influence how you write your own stories? How do they influence or inspire you?

I don’t have any children in my life at the moment, so I try to write for the child that I was. I write the things I know I would have devoured as a child, and I’m sure there are kids out there now who are just like I was, and need the stories I want to tell. I also had the amazing opportunity a few years ago for a year six class to read the first few chapters of my first draft, and they did some activities surrounding it and shared their thoughts with me. Their feedback was like gold dust.

8. How do you help children relate to your stories? 

By writing middle grade stories with horror elements and darker themes, I hope to show that darkness can be overcome, as children in dark places often gravitate towards darker stories. I also try to write stories with a varied and diverse cast of interesting and conflicting characters, as kids love to have a favourite character to root for and project themselves onto. 

9. How have your writing courses helped and contributed to your career as an author? 

I haven’t taken part in many courses (I’m resolving to take part in more!) but they’re useful for helping writers connect to and relate with one another. I was very lucky to be selected for the Penguin Random House WriteNow Workshop in 2018; a day that was dedicated to giving marginalised authors the confidence and the tools to start their journey towards getting published, and this really helped demystify the world of publishing for me. I also attended a free creative writing workshop a few years ago at Tate Liverpool, run by writer Marjorie Morgan, and getting to spend a day with other writers just sharing ideas, having fun and hyping each other up made me realise writing doesn’t have to be a lonely thing!

10. Are there any exciting new projects you are working on at the moment? 

I’m so excited to be working with CWLA on my dark fantasy trilogy for older middle grade readers. It’s full of everything I love; brave female protagonists, wicked queens, spooky woodland creatures and dark, terrifying magic!