We sat down with Miles Kelly author Catherine Veitch, to quiz her on all things reading, writing and her new Sea Stories picture books! Find out what she had to say...
How did you get into writing children’s books?
I’ve always loved writing. I studied for an English degree where I read lots of books and wrote many essays. Then I trained to be an infant primary teacher. I loved finding imaginative and creative ways to teach children and make my lessons fun, often using stories as starting-points for lessons. From there I went into children’s educational publishing, working as a writer/editor in magazines and then in books. Eventually I went freelance as a children’s writer, working for many contacts I’d made in children’s publishing.
Where is your creative writing space?
I write in my office at home, which is a bright, colourful, happy space. It’s packed with my huge library of children’s books, and things that inspire me, make me laugh and bring me joy… from my childhood doll’s house, tiny mice, interesting shells and stones, inspirational pictures and quotes, to a craft corner, with sparkly bits and bobs.
Where did you get your inspiration from for the Sea Stories series?
I am curious, and love researching and learning, so whenever I write anything, I find out as much as I can on the subject. I’ve always loved the sea and the animals that live in it and could not wait to get stuck into the research for Sea Stories.
My ideas and inspiration come from my research, whether it’s an interesting photo or an unusual fact that excites my curiosity and I think will make a good hook for a story. For example, the idea for Nat the Narwhal came from my fascination that experts are not completely sure what the narwhal uses its tusk for. The story explores different ways Nat could use his tusk, some of them made-up for fun, and others based on what experts believe.
Do you have a favourite character and story? Why is it your favourite?
My favourite character and story is Tia the Turtle. I read the astonishing fact that only one in every 1000 sea turtles that hatches survives to an adult!
As soon as the little hatchlings are born on a beach they face danger. They scramble down the beach to the sea at night, watching out for hungry predators such as crabs, snakes and birds, and using the light of the moon and stars reflecting on the sea to help them find their way. But are often confused by car headlights and building lights, and go the wrong way. Even when they reach the sea they face more danger from other predators. And many sea turtles eat toxic plastic, mistaking it for jellyfish, a favourite food, or get caught in fishing nets.
The ones that survive travel thousands of miles across the world’s oceans. And astonishingly, the adult females find their way back to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs. I admire the bravery and resilience of sea turtles like Tia, who have lived in our seas for hundreds of years, and wanted to write a story to celebrate them.
What messages do you hope children will take away from the stories?
Each sea story has its own message such as bravery, sharing, humility, self-esteem or teamwork. Then the series is a celebration of the wonderful diversity of creatures in our oceans. And the message I hope children will take away is how important it for us all to look after these beautiful sea creatures and the oceans that are their homes.
What sea creature are you most like and why?
What a great question! I’m like a seal, curious with a nose for adventure, but can sometimes be mischievous. I especially think it would be fun to live as a seal in a kelp forest, with all those hiding places to explore, and meeting all the other sea creatures that live there, too.
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
Every project I write fills me with excitement, as I learn so many things, and flex my writing muscles in so many different ways. So far I’ve written puzzle and activity books, fiction, non-fiction, phonics readers, online maths questions and comprehension fiction passages. At the moment, I’m really excited about a new set of stories I’m about to start work on for Miles Kelly. But it’s top secret, so I can’t give anything away!
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just started reading The Mapmakers by Tamzin Merchant. I read the first book in this series called The Hatmakers, and loved it because the world Tamzin has created is so imaginative and original.