It’s not every day that you get the chance to interview an author who is ‘as nice’ as their book. Not only has Gary Sheppard, author of ‘As Nice As Pie’ shared some brilliant writing tips and answered very important questions like ‘Mermaid or Unicorn?’ – what a sport, but he’s also got 3 copies of his debut book, published by Maverick Books, to give away. Thank you Gary!
I have been so excited to share this book with you because apart from loving it myself, it’s become Little Buttons favourite book on our shelves. She loves stories and can suss out a dud from a star read in less than a page, so getting 10/10, as well as prime position as her go-to bedtime story is serious business. I just hope I can do it justice.
As Nice As Pie is a cleverly crafted piece of rhyme that takes us on a witty and somewhat cheeky journey of Mavis Manewaring. Everyone’s favourite Grandma.
She’s a charming character, whose kindness is very quickly taken advantage of by a coven of birds who become greedier and more demanding each day.
Run off her feet, Mavis is soon cooking up a storm for her new friends who feast daily on anything from posh pastries to bacon in baps with not a thank you or kind word to be heard.
At the end of her tether, poor old Mavis has enough of the sassy birds, and cooks up a naughty plan that had us all shrieking and hooting with laughter!
Gary Sheppard has absolutely nailed it with ‘As Nice As Pie’. His voice is fresh and this hilarious story not only thoroughly entertains, but also delivers that age-old message of being kind and working together as a team.
We cannot recommend this book enough, and as I mentioned before, Little Button gives As Nice As Pie a huge thumbs up and 10/10. She actually wanted me to tell you all 100/10 because that’s how much she loved it. She also wanted me to ask Gary when his next book would be out, because she can’t wait to read it!
I love finding out a bit more about my favourite children’s authors, somehow it makes their stories all the more fascinating. Gary has been such a sport answering these.
Just for fun, tell us which you prefer in these quick-fire questions. Here’s how Gary got on.
Tea or Coffee? Coffee, although I’ll quite often have green tea!
Cake or Biscuits? Biscuits!
Cats or Dogs? Dogs
Lefty or Righty? Lefty
Early bird or Night owl? Both!
Pencil or Pen? Pen
Notebook or screen? Notebook
Beach hut or Log cabin? Log cabin
Unicorns of Mermaids? Mermaids
Oh yes, I completely get what Gary means about being an early bird and a night owl. There is just never enough time in the day when you have a something to write.
1. How did you first get into writing and have you always wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved writing, right back to when I was at school and used to write epic adventures, although they wouldn’t ever get finished as I’d run out of time! It was only when I was about 30 that the idea of putting that love of words into kid’s books was realised. I came up with a title for a book (Iznot’s Fair) and it piqued my interest and imagination enough for me to write the book. It’s never been submitted for publication, but I owe a lot to that story!
2. We know that your inspiration for As Nice As Pie came from a chance sighting of a bird pecking away at some bread outside your window. Once you get an idea for a story, how do you take it forwards and is there a certain point that makes you think ‘yes, this is going to be a hit’?
That’s a great question, but it really does depend! I’ve had ideas that have excited me and the ideas have flowed freely initially but have then dried up equally as quickly! It’s similar to music in that respect, in that sometimes the songs you like instantly are the ones that soon start to lose their attraction. It’s often the slowburners that form and take shape over time that are those with enduring appeal. I have some story ideas from years ago that haven’t ever made it past the initial phase, but you never know, one day, out of the blue, that seed might turn into a fully grown story!
3. Before illustrator Tim Budgen got his hands on As Nice As Pie, did you already have an idea of how you saw the story coming alive through image? If so, did it go hand in hand as you were writing, or something that you thought about once the story was complete?
I can now only associate the story with Tim’s fantastic illustrations and can’t actually remember my own visions of it. That said, I always wanted Mavis to come across like everyone’s favourite Gran, making it even more despicable that the birds would take advantage of her generosity (without giving too much away!). In terms of the overall look and feel, Ellie Brough at Maverick (the publisher) had the great idea of tapping into the success of The Great British Bake Off given the book’s cookery theme, resulting in the subtle vintage visual references.
5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a Children’s author?
Persevere. Persevere. Persevere! I have a spreadsheet of all the stories I’ve submitted over the years, and in one column is either the word ‘rejected’ or ‘accepted’. In all but one instance that word is ‘rejected’. But the entry that stands out the most? The one that says ‘accepted’! If I’d taken all of those disappointments to heart, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the moment I finally became published. Just see each rejection as an opportunity to learn; a chance to improve. Looking back on my early work, it’s easy to see the improvement, and that’s come from seeking advice, requesting feedback, reading articles, and generally having the willingness to adapt. Be a sponge, not a rock.
Gary is giving away 3 copies of his debut children’s book As Nice A Pie. Enter your details below for a chance to win. Good luck!
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Disclosure: We were sent a copy of As Nice As Pie for the purpose of this review. All views are my own and I can say that we all LOVED IT!