An Evening with Candy Gourlay

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Tuesday night I went to Random House to attend an evening hosted by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and to listen to a talk by the wonderful Candy Gourlay. Already she has been shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize, the Blue Peter Favourite Story Prize, the Leeds Children's Book Prize, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal among others! It was a great evening and when I asked her whether she ever got writer's block she replied ' I don't think writer's block is possible, if I ever get stuck for ideas it usually means I don't have enough information, so I just do more research until the writing starts to flow again.' Wow, what a nugget of gold! it makes so much sense, and it's definitely how I'm going to tackle the odd absence of creativity!

Her first novel is about a little girl who moves to Britain and leaves her brother in the Philippines. After not seeing him for 10 years she has an image of this big brother that is really cool and groovy. But when he comes to visit her in England, she finds that he isn't just tall- he's a GIANT! And he's not that cool, in fact he's a bit lanky and geeky. The book focuses on the dangers of making assumptions from first impressions and tracks the relationship of the little girl and her big, big brother.

Oh and before I forget, she also explained the difference between adult fiction and children's fiction. Are you ready to be in awed by a slice of genius?
'Adult's books always look back, they always reflect on a feeling from the past, a memory or a spark of nostalgia. Children's books always look forward, because they have no emotional point of reference, they are a completely blank canvas'. It makes a lot of sense, and although she called it a 'crazy' theory I reckon it's the most logical one I've heard so far.

I topped off the evening with a glass of wine and a quick chat to Candy as she signed my book.

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