Tuesday 9 March 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Tale of the Whale

Happy Hump Day and welcome to our stop of the blog of The Tale of the Whale, written by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra and published by Scallywag Press.

                'Where land becomes sky
                 and the sky becomes sea,

                I first saw the whale and
                the whale first saw me...'

This beautifully illustrated, lyrical story began it's journey to publication by winning the Writing Magazine Picture Book Prize in 2018. Below, in today's guest post, author Karen Swann takes us through her typical day as a writer.


A typical day

Someone asked me recently about my typical day as an author, and honest to goodness there really isn’t one! I’m not very disciplined as a writer – I have a busy family life and I write as and when I have time and my brain takes me there! Often, it’s the quiet times, such as the middle of the night or when I first wake up in the morning, that the ideas that are swimming around in my head get to come to the front and clamour to be heard. I have notebooks everywhere (especially by my bed) and I’m afraid I jot things down in a very haphazard way. Ideas for books are scattered through both my current work and a gazillion notebooks. I note things down straight away when they come to me – sometimes a rhyming couplet or a title or a random character, but I have to get the idea down there and then. It would be good to be organised enough to keep them all in one place, but I also know that if the ideas dry up, I just need to have a flick through some old notebooks, and I’ll find some really random stuff (which I’ll probably not be able to make head nor tail of!)

I do have a desk, an old Victorian scrub top table, where I like to write, with a big old larder cupboard beside it that holds my ever-growing collection of picture books. It’s really important to read widely, especially in the area you wish to write, and I do have to confess to a slight picture book addiction. I have an assortment of ‘things’ on the windowsill next to me, little bits that I’ve collected that appear in my stories. I love to get inspiration visually. I can get lost down a rabbit hole looking at Pinterest and illustrators work online – a great place to get ideas for characters or worlds. Currently though, I’m sharing the house again with my family, as they work from home, a puppy and a building site next door! Not the quiet I long for!

Ultimately though, when I do get the time or a quiet spot to write, I like to write about things that are important to me or I feel a strong connection to. The Tale of the Whale is about the environment and about caring for our world and the way we live within it, something I feel strongly about. I also have quite a musical brain and stories often come to me with an element of musicality to them. I chose a waltzing rhythm for The Tale of the Whale to reflect the patterns of waves of the ocean. That was how the whale gave it to me at a time when I had some quiet to listen. And you don’t not listen to a humpback whale!

The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann, 

illustrated by Padmacandra (right)           

 is out now in hardback (£12.99, Scallywag Press)

Find out more at scallywagpress.com

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