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What Amy Did Next!

June 29th, 2015

Amy-SparkesIt’s a funny game, teaching, especially teaching creative stuff like writing. Everyone can tell a story of one kind or another. But how do you take someone from eager amateur to money-making professional? Sure, there’s technique – everyone has to learn the tools of the trade. And then there’s business – whatever your art, you have to know its terrain, the people involved and how best to approach them. But then, there’s all the rest – the creative spark, tenacity, the ability to play like a child, and the will to stay up all night to meet your deadline (if that’s what it takes.) How on Earth do you teach that?

Well, I think most teachers would agree – you can’t. Personally, I think the best you can do as a teacher of writing (or any other creative art) is show people how to open the door to the profession, but once that door is open, they have to walk through themselves. Like Amy Sparkes did.

Amy was born in Eastbourne, England. She grew up by the sea and had a magical childhood, filled with ghosts, fairies, witches and curious incidents like trying to remove the school floor in pursuit of a magical land. She started writing creatively aged 5 and wrote many stories, poems and plays throughout her school days. Then, as an adult, she enrolled with the Writers Bureau. Soon after starting her course, she had several articles published, then decided to specialize in writing for children and had her first picture book Hodge the Hedgehog published by Meadowside in 2009. This book featured on CBeebies Storytime here in the UK, and was followed by a two-book fiction deal with the same publisher. After that she landed herself a top literary agent.

In 2012 she started regularly producing the ‘Writing for Children’ pages for ‘Writing Magazine’ and still continues that today. She also writes short stories for older children, published in ‘Aquila’ magazine.

In 2013 her next picture book, Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo was released with Random House. This book went on to be shortlisted for many awards, including ‘The Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013’ and ‘Booktrust Best Book Awards 2014’. Shortly afterwards she was signed for another 2 picture books with Random House, The Goodnight Star (out August 2015) and Once Upon A Wish (out February 2016).

Then came a 2-book picture book deal with Egmont – The Mouse Who Sailed The Seas was published in May this year, and the second book appears in June 2016.

She also has a picture book with Scholastic, Alien’s Crazy Christmas out this October and another picture book out with them in October 2016. In fact, currently, she has a list of 3 novels, 5 junior fiction and about 10 new picture books, all waiting to be written. And with such a mass of material going to print, it’s no surprise that she’s often invited as a guest to literary festivals.

But as if all that wasn’t enough, she’s also a regular visitor to schools and pre-schools, and teaches ‘Writing for Children’ herself at a local college. Oh, and she has five children of her own to look after…

So, to put it mildly, she’s a busy woman. Of her studies with us, Amy says: “The Writers Bureau gave me the confidence to start submitting my work to editors and publishers, and I haven’t really stopped since. So thank you for that!”

Well, it’s a pleasure. It’s a delight to see students making a go of it, and we’re proud of the part we play in their achievements. Are we responsible for their success though? It’s hard to say. In this case, we taught Amy some invaluable techniques, and helped her get to know the terrain of the writing profession. But when it came to creative spark, and tenacity, the ability to carry on playing like a child, and that will to stay up all night to meet the deadline (if that’s what it takes) – they were always hers.

Keep on writing!phil-blog-sig

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