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Picture Book Club #19 Candy Gourlay

On Tuesday 9th October we welcomed Candy Gourlay to Reading for our 19th Picture Book Club meeting.
Candy is an active SCBWI member and really generous with her time in helping aspiring writers and illustrators to understand the sometimes seemingly impenetrable world of children’s publishing. We were very excited to hear about her very own picture book journey! Candy began by explaining that she had wanted to write picture books from the outset. She has been beavering away for years creating stories for her own children. She put her own considerable talents and background as a cartoonist to good use creating dummy books and it was brilliant that she had saved them all and brought them with her so we could see them.
However, Candy’s initial experiences with submitting picture book texts brought no success (we all know what that feels like, right?) and so she turned her hand to writing fiction for older children. Something that she turns out to be completely brilliant at! Her breakthrough novel, Tall Story, led to further success and her latest book, Bone Talk, is currently garnering rave reviews and critical acclaim. But her heart remains with picture books and so it was extra exciting, she explained, to have finally brought out her first picture book Is It A Mermaid? this year.
It was fascinating to see how Candy worked with the illustrator Francesca Chessa to bring her story to life, working to include all the richness of life in the Philippines where Candy was born. You can watch Francesca talk about it herself on a YouTube video on Candy’s very own fab channel which is full of videos and other content. If you need a lesson on making an author website that is engaging for viewers then look no further!
Of course, despite being in a new venue, there was still cake. This was expertly made and beautifully decorated by Kate Poels.
You can watch Candy’s Picture Book Club talk on facebook live here. You’ll see that one of the issues with our new venue was the lighting! Apologies! And the sound dips out for a couple of seconds where we lost internet connection but do keep watching because you won’t want to miss out on any of Candy’s words of wisdom!