Thursday, 12 November 2009


We interrupt the Writing Advice series for a very important announcement.



Do tell us - How does it feel to have signed your debut book deal?  I do hope copious amounts of champagne was involved?

Hi Tracy.
Thanks so much for giving me time on your wonderful blog.
It really is an extraordinary feeling finally getting a deal.

On the one hand, it’s the stuff of dreams come true, on the other hand, I’m terrified. Here’s what I’ve been striving for all this time. Now I’m going to find out if the long rocky journey was worth it!

Can you tell us about your book and what inspired you to write the story?

TALL STORY is about the coming together of a brother and sister, Bernardo and Andi, separated by immigration red tape. Andi is shocked to discover that her brother is tall. No, not tall. A giant. Bernardo is eight feet tall.

I began thinking of this story after my sister ‘s husband who at the time was a professional basketball coach in Indonesia, was asked to train up a tall boy so that he would be in the same league as the Chinese giant basketball player Yao Ming. Except the boy wasn’t tall like Yao Ming, he suffered from gigantism.

I’ve always been fascinated by pituitary gigantism – maybe because in my native Philippines, the folklore attributes our frequent earthquakes to the shrugging of giants underneath the earth. I did some research and was fascinated to discover the commonalities of giant folk lore from all over the world.

My boys are mad about basketball and I wondered if I could get all these elements together in one book: calamity, basketball and a little bit of magic.

David Fickling Books publishes some of the best children's writers such as Philip Pullman, John Boyne, Mark Haddon and Jenny Downham.  How does it feel to be among such prestigious authors?

It is thrilling and terrifiying.

In the press release, David Fickling Books describes TALL STORY by Candy Gourlay as, 'an outstanding and highly original novel for 10yrs+.' 

'Editorial director, Bella Pearson, knew there was something special from the first page: “It isn't often that I am in fits of laughter one minute and in tears the next - TALL STORY is one of the warmest, funniest, most moving books I've read in a long time - and Candy Gourlay is a rare and new voice in children's fiction. We are feeling immensely excited (and smug!) to be able to add her name to the DFB list.”'

Candy, you mentioned that the book will be published by a Philippine publisher. As the Philippines is your country of birth how does it feel knowing your book will be published there? 

Reading can be unaffordable in the Philippines where a lot of books are imported and might cost the same as they do here in the West. I have always told my agent that I would like a Filipino publisher to publish my books in the Philippines.

Lucky for me, long before I finished writing the book Filipino publisher Ramon Sunico got in touch and expressed an interest in TALL STORY. Sunico is a fabulous poet and a pioneer in Young Adult fiction and I am so pleased that he will be publishing the book at home. it means so much to me to have a Filipino publisher bring my story to the Philippines.

Ramon Sunico said about TALL STORY, From the moment I discovered Candy’s blog and read the crisp, crackling prose of Tall Story, I knew that getting her read here would benefit not only the growing field of Philippine Young Adult lit but inspire many young Filipinos.

Candy, before you moved to the UK you were a journalist in the Phillipines. Has this part of your life influenced your writing in any way?

Journalism is the best preparation for writing fiction – not because you develop writing skills (although you do) but because you spend all your time collecting stories. I have met people I would never have met, travelled to places I would never have seen (I once did a story in North Korea!) and oh the stories. My only problem as a journalist was the temptation to tell a story rather than report the facts.

You are a valued and active member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and you were one of the winners of the inaugural Undiscovered Voices competition in 2008 for your novel, Ugly City.  Did winning this competition open doors for you?  Would you recommend aspiring children's writers to join SCBWI and enter competitions?

Undiscovered Voices gave a big boost to my confidence and I think persuaded my lovely agent to take me on. It still took two years and another novel to reach publication.   At the end of the day it’s about the story you tell. And although the other books I’ve written are almost-there books, TALL STORY was the one that got me through the door.

Joining SCBWI and rather determinedly becoming engaging in all the SCBWI events I can attend has really made a difference to me. Not just because I have upped my game and learned from all the events, but because I have made true friends who share the same passion and vocation. Yes, join competitions and watch those doors open. But also, join SCBWI and become part of its world of talented and committed writers and illustrators.

What advice would you give any aspiring children's writers who are reading this and dreaming of their first book deal?

If at first you don’t succeed, write another book. You can only get better at it.

You can find out more about Candy by visiting her website

Candy also blogs at Notes from the Slushpile

Candy Gourlay is represented by Hilary Delamere of The Agency


kathryn evans said...

Candy, you know you're going to have to change the name of your blog! xxxxxx Great interview as ever Tracey :O)

JaneyV said...

Pleased as punch for you Candy. You give us all hope and inspiration to do our very best xxx

Thanks Tracy for the interview.

Donna Gambale said...


Sandra Patterson said...

Congratulations, Candy!
Tracy I have something for you on my blog:
Cheers, Sandra

Clare said...


Thanks to you and Tracy for sharing your exciting news and progress with us.

SarwatC said...

Hooray for Candy!
She totally desrves it and it just goes to show how sticking at it will pay off in the end.
Congrats for the sheer determination!

Welshcake said...

Well done, Candy, that's great news!

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