Cressida Cowell is a critically acclaimed English children’s author, known for the novel series, How to Train Your Dragon, which has subsequently become an award-winning franchise as adapted for the screen by DreamWorks Animation.
To mark Independent Bookshop Week (15-22 June), the annual celebration of indie bookshops, Cressida is touring indies with her new paperback The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic, with stops along the way including SilverDell (Kirkham, Preston) and Seven Stories (Newcastle).
It is an honour to interview Cressida for the blog.
Describe a typical day for you?
I work in a shed at the bottom of my garden so if I am working from home I am always in there by 8 am to write and illustrate my books. But, I could be anywhere! I could be on a train on the way to Derby for an event, visiting my publisher’s office so I can work with my designer, heading in to town to go to a World Book Day meeting. There is no typical day for me!
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
My marriage to my husband and my three lovely children. Also, every single time someone tells me, ‘your books were the ones that got my kids excited about reading’ – that feels marvellous!
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
My books The Wizards of Once, Twice Magic and the proof of Knock Three Times, make up bag, phone, keys, hair-ties, sunglasses, a spare pair of tights (just like the queen!) and an umbrella – June has been unseasonably wet!
What are your ambitions in life?
To get as many kids as possible reading and writing for the joy of it.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
How much travel would be involved! At the time I was an anxious traveller but after years of flights and trains I’ve been cured! Also, and I think I did know this all along, but very rarely do things happen by accident – you have to work very hard to succeed! As Einstein said, Failure is success in progress.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Still writing books that children love, I hope!
What advice would you give to a new mum?
I always think as a first time mum, you shouldn’t be handed a newborn – newborns are tricky! You should have a fully grown seven year old- who at least can tell you what they’re feeling. Looking after a newborn requires Advance Parenting skills.
So, to any new mum who has a newborn who is being a big tricky- they won’t stay like that! And, don’t feel you ought to feel this overwhelming sense of motherhood from day one- sometimes these things take time! Having a baby is a huge upheaval and sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to feel everything is perfect immediately. Like most things in life, becoming a mum is a mixture of emotions!
What advice would you give a budding children’s author?
Read lots. Don’t worry about your spelling, your grammar, or your handwriting. Don’t even worry about finishing. Just write.
Finally, happiness is…
A walk by the sea with my family and my dog.
Pottling around in the garden.
Eating oysters overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Photo of Cressida Cowel ©Debra Hurford Brown.
You can read more Wonderful Women interviews here.