In our Seven Stories feature, we ask a Scottish children’s author to share some stories about their own life and work.
Today, we meet author-illustrator Corrina Campbell. We were dazzled by her beautiful debut, The Girl who Stole the Stars, and knew she would be just the interviewee to bring a bit of sparkle to a grey November day.
News Story: (what’s the story with your latest book?)
My book is called The Girl Who Stole the Stars. It is a story about a little girl who decides she wants a star of her very own, but ends up taking all the stars from the sky, with disastrous consequences, not just for her but for millions of other children around the world. What will it take for her to put them back in the sky? You’ll need to read the book to find out!
Short Story: (your book in five words)
Stolen star catastrophe impacts everyone!
Life Story: (how did you get where you are now?)
I think it is fair to say that most people who knew me when I was young would not have expected me to become a writer. I was a long way from being top of the class in English, I was terrible at spelling (I still am, thank goodness for spell checker!) and nothing inspired me to write…except for my diary.
From 1995-2001 I kept a ‘warts-and-all’ diary where the ramblings of my teenage self were all jotted down. I certainly wouldn’t say this classed me as a writer, but I clearly enjoyed writing from a young age.
After all the assignments of university, it wasn’t until I started working as a primary school teacher that I started to enjoy writing again. I wanted to tackle challenging topics with my pupils and found that stories were great for doing this in a child-friendly manner.
After several years of writing, I decided to get one of my stories illustrated with the aim of self-publishing. However, I underestimated how much this would cost, so I decided to give illustration a go myself. I am happy to admit that my first attempt was terrible, yet after hours and hours of drawing the makings of a book started to emerge. Since then I have continued to create books and stories into the small hours of the night.
Love story: (who, or what do you really care about?)
I am going to split this question in to two parts; who and what.
WHO: I met my husband when I was two years old. We seemed to dip in and out of each other’s lives at various points, always friends unless competing on the hockey pitch! Now, a ridiculous number of years later, we have three little girls and together we ride the highs and lows of life! Collectively my family inspire me, support me and encourage me in their own unique ways. I couldn’t answer this question without including them.
WHAT: I am passionate about providing opportunities for kids to think creatively. I like to take children out of this comfort zone of right/wrong and look at the bit in-between, the bit where the ‘answer’ isn’t clear so they have to really think!
Adventure Story: (what was your most exciting adventure?)
This is a refreshing question, mainly because it’s so nice to reminisce about some of my previous adventures at a time when the furthest I am ‘adventuring’ is to the local shops!
My husband and I used to run a food business that eventually became a charity (One Feeds Two) and through this we visited schools in Kenya to distribute school meals to children living in poverty. It was a life-changing experience and one that I’ll never forget. Kenya was an incredible place and I’d love to go back one day.
Old Story: (what were your favourite books as a child?)
Gosh – there are so many stories that I loved!!
My Dad was great at reading me stories. Together we would spend lots of time looking at the pictures and chatting about the story – until he fell asleep (which was usually about half way through!).
A firm favourite for me was always Katie Morag. The illustrations by Mairi Hedderwick were beautiful and living in the north of Scotland meant I could really relate to the surroundings. I now read Katie Morag to my girls and I love that it is still found in bookshops today.
I also remember enjoying Giorgio’s Village by Tomie dePaola where there were lots of parts to pull and flaps to lift, Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells (I was the oldest and noisiest in my family!) and The Winter Bear by Ruth Craft and Erik Blegvad. I still remember the moment the bear was discovered high in a tree. I found it so strange that a bear was in a tree and I still wonder how he got there!
Bedtime Story: (and…what is your bedtime reading at the moment?)
As I usually work in the evenings so I don’t get much reading time to myself so my bedtime reading at the moment is with my girls! I am reading How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell with my six-year-old, Gnome by Fred Blunt with my two-year-old (she also LOVES The Diddle that Dummed by Fred Blunt and Kes Grey) and with my seven-month-old we are chewing our way through the That’s not my… board books!