Wendy White Author Interview for Carmarthen Book Fair 2016
Hi Wendy White, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Its always great when authors agree to an interview and we get to know a little bit about the person who creates the stories they write.
Could you tell us what were you like at school?
I really enjoyed primary school and was forever lining up my toys at home to teach them what I’d learned in class. I loved writing stories more than anything else and collected notebooks to write them in. When I was ten years old I longed to become a teacher myself, and eventually I did, but secondary school came as a big shock. Science suddenly changed from a fun subject into something much more serious, and maths got really hard. I still enjoyed writing though, and had a couple of wonderful English teachers whose enthusiasm made all the difference. Their encouragement helped me to keep writing throughout school and beyond.
So, what books have you written and where can we find them?
I’ve had two children’s books published by Pont at Gomer Press – ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ and ‘Three Cheers for Wales’ – and I have a third due to be published early next year. My books are aimed at 4-8 year-olds and have a strong Welsh flavour, a sprinkling of Welsh words throughout and, hopefully, a large helping of humour. The main characters are friends Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys. Their grandparents, Mam-gu and Da-cu, feature strongly too. There are five stories in each book, including tales about fancy dress parties, learning to dance for the school Eisteddfod, going to Tenby on the train and watching Wales win at rugby in Cardiff. As well as the stories, the books include traditional songs, child-friendly recipes and quirky illustrations by Helen Flook. Copies are stocked in most WHSmiths, Waterstones and independent bookshops in Wales. They’re also available online from Amazon and Gomer Press directly.
Do you have a special time and place to write?
I’m not a morning person – just ask my family. I seem to get most creative writing ideas at night when I should be fast asleep, but as my husband, Simon, has to get up for work at seven in the morning it wouldn’t be practical – or kind! – for me to write into the early hours. Instead I end up scrawling notes to myself in the dark that are a demon to decipher when I wake. I tend to catch up with emails and social media in the morning and write from midday on. I normally work at the kitchen table and set the oven timer to remind myself to get up and make a hot drink every hour – otherwise the whole afternoon can pass before I realise I’m beginning to lose the feeling in my feet. But when I have a deadline looming I set up camp in my tiny, windowless home-office where there’s no kettle or biscuit tin to distract me. And then I write for hours on end – despite the numb toes!
What do you find is the hardest – and easiest– part of writing?
Sitting down and writing something is definitely the hardest part. Before I start a new project I spend weeks, sometimes months, imagining the characters and the situations they find themselves in. And then eventually I have to sit at my keyboard and turn the thoughts into words on the screen. I always seem to put this moment off for as long as possible. Once I actually start, the words mostly flow but I’m always relieved when I get to the point where I’m ready to revise what I’ve written. That’s the easiest part, as far as I’m concerned. I love revising, cutting chunks out and switching things round – taking an imaginary red pen to my work. It probably appeals to the teacher in me, although sadly I never got to use a red pen when I was teaching as it wasn’t considered very PC!
Who are your favourite authors?
I have many because I absolutely adore reading. I especially like to read books by people living or published in Wales, and have recently enjoyed novels by Belinda Bauer, Sally Spedding, Jo Verity and John Thompson. I like to read Irish novelists too, particularly Emma Donoghue, Colm Tóibín and Roddy Doyle. I recently finished ‘Asking For It’ by the Irish writer Louise O’Neill which is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. At the moment I’m reading ‘Stargazing’ by Kate Glanville which is a lot darker than its pretty cover suggests. I’m completely hooked and looking forward to reading her other novels.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Firstly, I’d say join a writers’ group. I belong to a lovely one and I wish I’d joined it sooner – I find their support, feedback and friendship invaluable. I’d tell myself not to be shy when reading aloud as everyone feels nervous doing that, but it really does help to hear your work read to an audience. I’d also tell myself to keep reading, as much and as widely as possible. I loved reading as a child but had a ten-year dip when my own children were young. Although I read with my daughter and son every day, I didn’t set aside much reading time for myself. I’m making up for it now though. And lastly I’d say – just write. If I’d waited any longer for the perfect moment to get started I might never have begun. I wish I’d started writing seriously in my twenties because it’s so hard to make up for lost time! Oh, and as Chris Coleman said recently, don’t be afraid to dream or to fail.
Are you looking forward to the Carmarthen Book Fair?
I’m really looking forward to the book fair this October, and I’m very pleased that Thompson Authors have decided to organise it. It’s great to have an event like this close to my home of Kidwelly. I’m looking forward to meeting and chatting with the people who come along, and with the other authors selling their books. Writers and booklovers are always such friendly, interesting people so it’s great to gather them together for a day. And I’m looking forward to stocking up on some new reading material too!
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
I have a website, and Facebook and Twitter accounts:
And here are the links to my books on Amazon and Pont’s website: