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My Super Sister - Q&A with author, Gwyneth Rees

(23 Posts)
sleepmonkey Wed 14-Aug-13 14:59:34

Realise how much time has passed and I still haven't commented on the book! A great read - my ds thought it was very funny even though he prefers books about 'boys'! We'll be looking for the Cosmo series at the library!

AJDaines Thu 16-May-13 14:22:29

I received this book in the giveaway but only just realised I never commented as requested. Actually that may be because I was so excited at winning! Anyway my 7 year old loved it and devoured it in a couple of days - Gwyneth Rees can't write them fast enough for her! Anyway, many thanks for the book!

Belo Wed 08-May-13 10:16:54

Thank you for this book. it is a big success. We've got 1 more chapter to read. Before dd2 (7) left for school this morning she wanted to check that we could definitely read it tonight. I think that means she has really enjoyed the book! The 2nd book is already on her birthday wish list.

lambfam Fri 03-May-13 22:43:22

We received a copy of this and my daughter loved it. She read it cover to cover and did not speak until she finished! She is 8 and has been inspired to get some more Gwyneth Rees books out the library.

GwynethRees Wed 17-Apr-13 17:30:53

Right from childhood, writing was my number one hobby and my favourite form of escapism. But for quite a lot of my early adult life it had to take a back seat while I pursued a career in Medicine. The first book I wrote when I was still a medical student was a coming of age type novel for teenagers. I took it to some writing workshops and was encouraged to try and find myself a literary agent.

In the same year that I started working as a junior house officer I was taken on by an agent but to my immense disappointment no publisher agreed to take on my book. I kept writing in my spare time and decided to start training in what had always been my favourite branch of Medicine – Psychiatry.

My next book was for the younger pre-teen age group and amazingly it found a publisher. Unfortunately nothing much happened in terms of sales and it was allowed to go out of print after a couple of years. I had my career in Psychiatry to focus on which was more than enough to keep me occupied and I found myself specialising in Child and Adolescent work.
It was a few years later when my agent put me in touch with a book packaging company called Working Partners. After a successful try-out, they hired me to write some short animal books for younger children. I was one of many anonymous authors contributing to one of several series, each of which was packaged under an invented author name and sold on to a publisher. The series I had contributed to was sold to Macmillan Children’s Books where my particular titles were noticed by an editor there, who asked if I would be interested in writing a series of books directly for them.

I wrote my Mermaid Magic series followed a year later by Fairy Dust – both of which sold successfully – and this was the start of my 12 year author-publisher partnership with Macmillan. Initially I juggled the writing with some out-patient work in child psychiatry but when my publisher offered me a seven book contract I decided to take a sabbatical to test out being a full-time writer. That was 10 years ago.

Since then I’ve also married and had 2 daughters (aged 5 and almost 3) and now I am happily juggling the writing with being a mum.

My latest children’s series – My Super Sister – about two sisters with superpowers, has been inspired partly by watching the onset of the sister relationship between my two daughters. I say ‘partly’ because I’ve always liked writing about families, having grown-up pretty much as an only child (my half-sister wasn’t born until I was 12). Indeed I spent many hours during my somewhat disrupted childhood fantasising about what it would be like to have a sibling and in particular a sister to share things with. (At the time it didn’t really occur to me that it would have very much depended on my relationship with the sibling in question.)

Which brings me to one of my favourite things about being a writer – getting to invent the ‘people’ in my books and getting to decide exactly what happens to them. In My Super Sister I’ve had a lot of fun creating what I hope are two believable sisters who (despite their superpowers) have a ‘normal’ sibling dynamic that my readers will be able to relate to. Hopefully the end result is a book that is both entertaining and emotionally satisfying, both for readers out there who do have sisters as well as the ones who don’t.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Apr-13 17:29:08

We also asked Gwyneth if she'd share with us how she became a children's author and we're now going to post her response. Big thanks to Gwyneth for answering the questions and sharing this with us.

GwynethRees Wed 17-Apr-13 17:25:57

Hopezibah

My 8 year old son is here with me now to give his feedback / review. He says: "I finished it in one night so I wish it was 300 pages long so it would last longer. Maybe the author should write one about super brothers too. I liked the whole story. Cedric the knome was my favourite character."

I am so pleased by your son’s reaction! Tell him there is more of Cedric in the sequel which is out in hardback this month - it’s called My Super Sister and the Birthday Party. And I’ll bear in mind the super brothers idea!

GwynethRees Wed 17-Apr-13 17:25:38

MercedesKing

Don't know whether there is a translated version in other languages or version with relatively simpler English, thought this book is suitable for my thirteen year old brother who is learning English right now, thought it can give rise his learning interests. smile Guess it is just what I wanted...

I hope your brother enjoys it. There is also my Cosmo series which tend to be popular with the boys whenever I do school visits. The first one is Cosmo and the Magic Sneeze.

GwynethRees Wed 17-Apr-13 17:25:01

Acinonyx

My daughter aged 7.5 wants has a lot of your books to ask: 'How do you come up with the names for the fairies?'

I’m so glad your daughter likes my books. The names of the fairies come from a variety of places. Sometimes I name one after a particular person – such as Ruby in Fairy Treasure (named after my friend’s daughter) and Cammie the wee man in Fairy Dust (named after my stepdad). Sometimes for flower fairies it’s a case of making a list of flower names. Likewise I might be guided by another theme in the story, like jewels (Fairy Treasure) or the night time (Fairy Dreams, featuring Star and Moonbeam). When I’m stuck I get out my book of babies’ names to get some ideas.

GwynethRees Wed 17-Apr-13 17:24:14

herecomesthsun

Do you ever regret giving up medicine for writing? Would you encourage your daughters to pursue either profession? What audience do you envisage as you write - your children? other children? is it less specific?

I wouldn’t say I ever regret giving up medicine for writing. It was a huge step to give up working and initially I felt a bit guilty about it, but now I’m certain that for me it was definitely the right thing. I worked as a doctor, mainly in psychiatry, for 13 years and I wouldn’t change that. But I know I couldn’t have embraced my writing career as much if I’d still been juggling it with psychiatry, which could be very stressful at times. I don’t worry that my training was wasted because I know I use it all the time when I write, just in a different way.

As for my daughters, if they did express an interest in going down either route I’d encourage them to research both options thoroughly before they made up their minds. What I hope is that they have the motivation and confidence to pursue something of their own choosing, something which suits them both academically and temperamentally and which will enable them to make a living!

I don’t consciously envisage an audience at all when I write the first draft of something – I’m either inside the head of the characters or I’m concentrating on describing the world they’re inhabiting. However I am very aware of the children who read my books when I get to the next stage of going over and revising what I’ve written. It’s really important that the narrator’s voice sits right with my readers or else I’m not going to engage them in the story.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Apr-13 17:22:30

Great to hear that the book has been a hit. We now have the answers to your questions back from Gwyneth and are going to post them up. If you received a free copy, please do come back and let us know whether your dcs enjoyed it.

ClaraOswinOswald Fri 12-Apr-13 18:30:18

DD age 9 is currently reading this and enjoying it. Once she's finished she wants me to read it to my class (y3) as she thinks they will like it too.

katb1973 Fri 12-Apr-13 18:13:00

Received this a couple of weeks ago and got feedback from my niece who loved it. She said that the sisters were really funny and eventhough they had superpowers, they could have been one of her friends as well. My niece also loved the fact that the girls' parents are 'in on' the fact that the girls have these powers and help them when things go wrong-which happens often!! A standard format book, but really entertaining. Definitely a great gift for the 7-9 age group. Thanks Mumsnet!!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Apr-13 13:10:34

Thanks for sending in the questions which we've now sent over to Gwyneth. Do still post up your feedback and we'll pass it on to the author and publisher. We'll post up Gwyneth's answers to the questions later in the week.

Hopezibah Mon 25-Mar-13 19:16:00

My 8 year old son is here with me now to give his feedback / review. He says: "I finished it in one night so I wish it was 300 pages long so it would last longer. Maybe the author should write one about super brothers too. I liked the whole story. Cedric the knome was my favourite character."

aristocat Mon 25-Mar-13 11:55:34

Hello, this book arrived this morning. My daughter will be thrilled and I am certain she will start to read it immediately after school smile

Thanks again, I will give her thoughts when she has finished reading it.

Thank you for our copy, it arrived at lunchtime today and my 7 year old is already half way through it so I think it's a hit! Probably not one he would have picked up on his own so it will be interesting to see what he says when he has finished it. smile

MercedesKing Thu 07-Mar-13 08:33:12

Don't know whether there is a translated version in other languages or version with relatively simpler English, thought this book is suitable for my thirteen year old brother who is learning English right now, thought it can give rise his learning interests. smile Guess it is just what I wanted...

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Mar-13 10:14:28

The book giveaway form is now closed. We'll be sending over the list of the 50 winners later today. As soon as we hear from the publishers that the books have been sent out, we'll email you to inform you if you have been successful. Please do keep the questions coming for Gywneth Rees and let us know what your dcs think about the book.

Acinonyx Sat 02-Mar-13 20:13:08

Oh dear let's try that again (dd was chatting as I was typing).

My daughter aged 7.5 has a lot of your books and wants to ask: 'How do you come up with the names for the fairies?'

Acinonyx Sat 02-Mar-13 20:11:40

My daughter aged 7.5 wants has a lot of your books to ask: 'How do you come up with the names for the fairies?'

herecomesthsun Sat 02-Mar-13 15:50:07

Do you ever regret giving up medicine for writing? Would you encourage your daughters to pursue either profession? What audience do you envisage as you write - your children? other children? is it less specific?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Feb-13 10:57:35

This week we have fifty copies of Gwyneth Rees' My Super Sister to giveaway. The first in a new series, My Super Sister is aimed at children aged 7+ and tells the story of two sisters, Emma and Saffie who have superpowers.

Gwyneth Rees is the author of many bestselling and award-winning children's books, including the Fairies series, the Cosmo series and the Marietta's Magic Dress Shop series. Gwyneth will be answering your questions and your children's questions in a Q&A.

Apply for your free copy before 10am on Monday 4 March. We'll email you if you've been one of the lucky winners and to let you know that the books have been sent out.

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