'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 20 August 2019

12 Curly Questions with author Stef Gemmill

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I used to be a Montessori teacher by day and a music journalist by night at heavy rock and metal gigs for music magazines. Both experiences bring a lot to my writing for children now and I had a lot of fun in both jobs.

2. What is your nickname?
Everyone calls me Stef, except I am Stephanie to my Mum (particularly when I’m in trouble).

3. What is your greatest fear?
That all the school libraries will close and children will lose that opportunity to pick whatever book they want to read. I grew up in a house where money for books was scarce. Freedom to choose books from my school library opened my imagination. It encouraged an ability to read up for my age and made writing my passion.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Untold tales mixed with light, dark and strange events.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
I write from the heart

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Atreyu, Bastian’s alter ego from The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende who flew the powerful Luck Dragon through the sky to save the Childlike Empress from her impending death. Who wouldn’t want to fly a dragon? A child flying on a dragon features in my next picture book ‘In My Dreams’ and is influenced by this story.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’d like to travel back to visit 10-year-old me. I’d tell myself that all the jumbled characters and fantasy worlds in my mind will one day turn into published books.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Kids do want to read powerful stories and don’t worry what everyone else is doing.

8. Who is your greatest influence?
Definitely Neil Gaiman. His stories move boldly into dark territory without terrifying children (not too much!).

10. What/who made you start writing?
It’s wired in me – it’s like electricity coursing through my veins. My mind is filled with so many story ideas it’s so satisfying to get them down on paper.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Phantasmagorical which means having a fantasy-like appearance like it's in a dream sequence. I think this is what the inside of my brain looks like.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Just one? Oh that is tough but my most read book is Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. No one captures a child’s wild emotions like he does. When I read this on my own as an older child I realised no matter how angry you get and how much despair there is in your world, someone still loves you. And your Mum will leave you a hot supper, no matter what. Such a satisfying ending.

Stef likes to draw on her past experiences as a Montessori teacher when writing picture books that are both imaginative and challenge young minds. She also has 15 years’ experience working as a technical writer by day and a freelance music journalist by night. More recently, Stef swapped the sweaty mosh pit for toys and tantrums turning her pen to writing children’s books. Her focus has been on picture books for 3-6 year olds and short stories for 7-12 year olds. A Home For Luna is Stef's debut picture book, with more picture books due for release in 2020 and 2021. For more information, see www.stefgemmill.com.