I recently reviewed A Girl called Owl by Amy Wilson and absolutely loved it! So much so, I asked Amy Wilson if she would answer some of the children’s questions for our Story Fest this week. Amy – happily – agreed and I am delighted to share here.
Where did you get your inspiration for A Girl called Owl?
Well. I bought myself a notebook with an owl on the cover, and that’s what started it all! I was staring at it and for some reason began to wonder what it would be like if you were called Owl, and then I wondered what sort of person would call their daughter Owl, and why. That was the start of the story, but I think inspiration comes from so many places, from everything and everybody really. I have always loved the natural world, particularly the trees and how they change as the seasons change, that cycle of life so plain to see. I love winter too, and how snow and ice make the world seem like a new, different place to discover. So I had my girl called Owl, and a winter world, and the rest of it just flowed from there really!
Do you have a journal?
I’m actually a bit naughty with journals and notebooks. I start writing in them, they’re great places to put down ideas, and I ask lots of questions, and try to answer them – about who a character is, how a story is going to unfold, what the journey is – and then I start to come up with the answers and get all excited and abandon the notebook to write on my laptop! I don’t think I could do without them in that initial ideas stage though, and the more you write in them the easier it is to face a blank page, I think.
How many hours a day do you write?
If I’m in the midst of a first draft it can be anything from half an hour to six or more hours. Some days I don’t write at all, but I like to think on those days that I’m still having ideas, developing stories and new characters, all in the back of my mind.
Do you have a special place to write?
I have a desk, and a little quiet corner of my house, but I rarely sit there, it feels a bit lonely… I like to be comfortable, and to have a bit of a view and some natural light, so I sort of circulate about my house depending on what feels right at the time. At the moment my favourite place is an old settee that looks out into the back garden, I can see spring happening right in front of me now and that’s a beautiful, inspiring thing.
Who is your greatest critic?
Ooh, that’s a good question! I’m fairly critical of my own work, that’s why it’s sometimes best to just keep on writing and not look back until you get to the end. I also have a writing group and friends there who let me know if they think something isn’t working. I listen to them, and then I have to go away and decide whether I think they’re right or not. I think usually we know if there’s something that needs changing, it’s just that perhaps we were hoping we could ignore it and it would be okay! That’s when somebody else can really help – by confirming that you were right to have doubts, and it needs to be addressed.
What is your favourite book that you didn’t write?
So many wonderful books! I mean, I kind of wish I’d written The Hobbit, because it’s just so incredibly imaginative and exciting. But my favourite as a child was The Magicians of Caprona, by Diana Wynne Jones. I think it appealed because it had magic, and a wonderful warm sense of family, and the main character was a boy who loved his cat, and books, and worried that he wasn’t as good as everyone else. Of course he had his own very special magic, and ended up being right in the thick of the action, and I think that’s what books can teach us, that no matter who we are, what our passions, we all have a story to tell, and our own place in the adventure.
Thanks so much Amy! Lots of inspiration for us all!