I’m thrilled to welcome Emma Finlayson-Palmer to my blog today to celebrate the release of her debut book, Autumn Moonbeam Dance Magic! as part of #TeamAutumnMoonbeam. I have admired Emma and her #ukteenchat on Twitter for many years and it certainly makes a change for her to be on the other end of the author interview questions.
Autumn Moonbeam Dance Magic! is the first book of the Autumn Moonbeam series, It is illustrated by Heidi Cannon and published by Uclan Publishing. Autumn loves gymnastics and dance so when the Sparkledale Dance Academy have try-outs for their competitive dance team, the Black Cats, Autumn thinks it is the most broom-tastic opportunity ever! Just one problem, Autumn is nervous and worries she won’t make it on to the team.
Thanks so much Emma for agreeing to be interviewed about Autumn Moonbeam Dance Magic! and for inviting me to be part of #TeamAutumnMoonbeam.
Now let’s crack on with the interview.
Q&A with Emma Finlayson-Palmer
Tell us a little about yourself and the inspiration for your character Autumn Moonbeam.
I’ve been writing since I could hold pens. But when I was young, I usually made stories in the form of comics or drawings as I have always loved being creative, and I was a bit slow to read fluently so I found a love of stories through visual mediums and have always been a film addict.
Autumn Moonbeam was inspired by my daughter, who started at a dance club when she was three, then by the age of five she joined the competitive cheer team. She was painfully shy and could barely make eye contact when performing by herself, but once she was part of a team it gave her the confidence to dance and compete in front of hundreds or sometimes thousands of people.
It was this concept of overcoming your fears, teamwork and following your dreams that became the key element for my Autumn’s story. Combining that with my love of dance (although I’m very clumsy, much like Autumn) and anything musical, magical or witch related, Autumn Moonbeam came cartwheeling into the world.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I do have to have all my “equipment” around me before I start, this usually includes a cup of tea in one of my favourite mugs (because it never tastes the same in one of the non favourites!), notebook related to the story I’m working on, because once I’m into the writing I need one notebook that’s solely dedicated to that story. Multiple pens, different coloured ones preferably. My bottle of water, and my phone which I usually listen to music on. Music is a little bit of a ritual as I listen to songs related to the story, or films scores that inspire me or match the genre or tone of the scene I’m working on.
Is there a particular place you like to write?
I am very much a will write anywhere writer and have written on the settee, in bed, at the kid’s swimming lessons, in the car, in a field, café’s, pubs, library, just about anywhere I can. But I especially love a little corner to get settled in or at the picnic bench in my back garden. Anywhere where I have a window with a view of the sky or trees and life passing by.
As this is one of your favourite questions on the brilliant Twitter chat #ukteenchat, are you a plotter or a pantser?
Ha! Yes, one of my favourite questions! I’ve always been a pantser, but I am slowly evolving. I’ve come to enjoy getting some sort of outline and synopsis written these days before I’ll even start a book. Getting the structure and plot holes worked out beforehand really helps, though I still do a fair amount of pantsing!
In your opinion, what makes a great children’s book?
Ooh, this is probably very subjective. For me, it depends which age group I’m reading, but something that I’ve noticed that I love across PBs through to YA and everything in-between is families and friendship. I love intergenerational and blended families too, families are all so varied and different and I love seeing the dynamics of family set ups in books. If there’s a sprinkle of magic that’s good too! Stories that move me in some way, I don’t mind if it’s making me cry or laughing out loud, a great story moves me and I find myself wondering what the characters would be up to long after I’ve finished the book.
What is your favourite thing about writing for children?
I love the huge amount of fun it is to create stories for children. Unlike books for adults, children’s fiction feels limitless, there’s no subject that can’t be explored in a safe and satisfying why. Writing for children makes me feel like I’m on adventures with my younger self.
What writing advice would you give to people aspiring to be a children’s book writer?
Read lots! Use published books like your mentor to show you how to structure stories, getting the balance between narrative and dialogue, and finding your own voice. I love freewriting, and highly recommend this to explore new ideas and to let go of that notion that things have to be perfect. Have fun and when you write about something you love or enjoy, that will really shine through in your writing.
Where can people buy your book?
Various indie bookshops, most are usually happy to order in a copy if you make a request. You an order via The Hive, Bookshop.org, and the usual larger shops online such as Waterstones and Amazon.
What are your social media links so people can find out more about you and your books?
You can find me on most social media sites by searching my surname, Finlayson-Palmer. I have a linktree page where they are all listed, along with links to a few places where you can buy Autumn Moonbeam… Emma Finlayson-Palmer | Linktree
Thank you Emma. It has been an honour be part of #TeamAutumnMoonbeam. 😊
You can read my review of Autumn Moonbeam Dance Magic! here: Book Review: Autumn Moonbeam Dance Magic!
Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the second book in the series, Autumn Moonbeam Spooky Sleepover! that is being released this October 2022.
And don’t forget you can order copies of Emma’s books from your local bookshop, or you can also purchase a copy online at uk.bookshop.org, an organisation with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.