ALLY SHERRICK, debut author of Black Powder, a tale of gunpowder, treason and plot, a twelve year old boy and his mouse best friend was our speaker with Barry Cunningham, Publisher and Managing Director of Chicken House Publishing in Somerset., .
‘I hope you’re enjoying your MA course in Creative Writing as much as I did.’ Ally said to those Winchester MA Writing for Children students present at the inaugural meeting of the Hampshire Writers’ Society Sixth Season.
It was during her two year course that she re-discovered her creative seed which had been crushed by the professionalism of the past twenty years of ‘crust earning’.
At the end of her working day, ‘writing was the last thing I wanted to do.’ she said.
In early 2000 Mark Haddon, award winning writer of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, suggested to Ally during an Arvon Course that the voice of the peice that she written for the course wasn’t written for children!
Ally didn’t despair. Instead she set about devouring books by other children’s writers, including Meg Rosoff, Plenary Speaker at this years Winchester Writers’ Festival.
When redundancy forced Ally to ask herself ‘What do I want to do with the next section of my life and with the backing of a supportive husband she embarked on the MA Writing for Children at Winchester University.
The MA opened up access to networks including SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)
Her first novel, a sci-fi was finished. She submitted it and when it was rejected, she had the good grace to put it in her bottom drawer and move on. The story and the characters are the important ingredients’, she tells us, ‘it doesn’t matter where you set it.’ A SCBWI ten word pitch competition won her the attention of Barry Cunningham.
Since then, she and the Chicken House team have worked, not always agreeing but stayed focussed. Together they brought Black Powder to publication.
‘Connect with your inner child’, Ally says, ‘My dial is stuck at age 11.’
Ally is now writing book two, a children’s book set in WW2.