Pauline Fisk's fantasy world
Shropshire author Pauline Fisk writes magic fantasy stories for children. She won the Smarties Prize for her first novel, Midnight Blue, in 1990. Her eighth book, Mad Dog Moonlight, was published in February 2009.
Pauline Fisk, an award-winning children's author, lives in Shrewsbury.
She grew up in South London where, at the age of nine, she began writing stories and poems based on the characters from her favourite books.
It was not until 1990, having had five children, that she published her first novel - Midnight Blue - which won the Smarties Prize for Children's Books and was short-listed for the Whitbread Award for Children's Books.
Fisk describes her writing as magic realism: "where you're rooting your stories in the real world, but peeling back the layers to reveal the fantastic."
Pauline Fisk's eighth novel, Mad Dog Moonlight, was published in February 2009. It completes the Children Of Plynlimon sequence which includes Sabrina Fludde and The Red Judge.
Flying for Frankie is due to be published in 2009. In The Trees, a story about a boy's gap-year travels, is expected in 2010.
"Looking for fairies"
Pauline Fisk was born in 1948. Her parents came from a Salvation Army background and Pauline was raised as a baptist. She was a shy child and at the time perceived herself as a loner: "I was always looking for another world where I would feel at home."
Fisk loved to read stories by A.A. Milne, Enid Blyton and Hans Christian Anderson.
From a young age she created a fantasy world of her own: "I spent a vast amount of time in our back alley, crawling around in the hedges looking for fairies and making up stories about them."
She played alone in the park and spent hours in the children's section of the library living out her daydream life.
"I've always made up stories. As a three-year-old I told stories to the children next door, over the garden wall... with the six-year-olds asking 'what happens next?'"
Only in 2003 Pauline discovered the Fisk family motto: 'Be brave and reach for the stars'.
"It's rather nice that through the ages people in my family have aspired to that and I'm happy to follow in their footsteps."
"I was knocked out by Wuthering Heights"
As a teenager Fisk strived to write like Emily Bronte, Graham Green and Dylan Thomas, but it was frustrating reading her own work: "I knew immature childish writing when I saw it."
When Fisk was 13 she sent poems off to Poetry Review: "I always thought I was in with a chance, I was such an optimist."
Despite disappointments she continued to write and in her early twenties she published a book of short stories.
During the 70s Pauline Fisk moved from London to Shropshire, married and raised a family.
Then, after the birth of her fifth child, she wrote an article for Homes and Gardens which triggered her desire to write more, "and at long last to trust my own writing voice."
Pauline Fisk has published eight novels: Midnight Blue (Lion, 1990); Telling The Sea (Lion, 1992); Tyger Pool (Bodley Head, 1994); The Beast of Whixall Moss (Walker, 1997); The Candle House (Bodley Head, 1999); Sabrina Fludde (Bloomsbury, 2001); The Red Judge (Bloomsbury, 2005); Mad Dog Moonlight (Bloomsbury, 2009).
Flying For Frankie (Faber and Faber) is due to be published in 2009. In The Trees (Faber and Faber) is expected in 2010.
One inspiration for In The Trees was her son's own experience in Belize: "He went out there straight out of school. He came back six months later and I didn't recognise him. He did this corny old thing of turning from a boy into a man."
To research the book Pauline returned to Belize with her son, where they trekked into the rainforest to meet young gap-year students at a jaguar reserve.
"I had huge admiration for their resilience and fortitute. It was lovely to see them doing something so worthwhile and getting so much out of it."
"Love life through books"
Pauline Fisk says the most enjoyable thing about her success is the feeling that she has found her voice and can use it to communicate with children. She has received letters from many young readers thanking her for understanding them and this "means everything" to her.
Fisk says that with books there is a unique sense of partnership and through it you can teach a child to love life.
This, she maintains, is her ultimate goal as a children's writer: "We really can learn to love life through books. It's not a fanciful idea. I have done it myself."
last updated: 09/02/2009 at 17:05
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