Not many people discover hidden talents and become succesful at it, but English children’s books author Giles Paley-Phillips has. Although his first passion is music, he thoroughly enjoys coming up with stories for children and reading them to an audience.
“I first started writing when my first son was born,” Giles recalls. “I wanted to write something for him. The problem was, I didn’t have much inspiration at that point. However, one day I was on my lunch break and looked around in a few shops. Then I found a book in a second hand bookstore by an American author called Shel Silverstein. I was just blown away by his poems and started getting lots of ideas, which luckily hasn’t stopped since that day! I mainly get inspiration from reading, but watching movies and my own children are also great sources of inspiration. It’s not necessarily the things my boys say or do…More often it’s the stuff they’re into that inspires me.”
For any writer, it’s important to be prepared for the moment inspiration strikes. “That’s why I always carry a notebook and pencil with me,” Giles explains. “I always jot down any ideas that come to mind. I don’t write every day, I usually write when I feel inspired. There is an author called Alexander McCall Smith, who writes about ten thousand words a day. That’s mental! I couldn’t work like that. But if you want to write a novel, you have to write a lot more words of course. Writing children’s books requires a different skill. The manuscripts are much shorter than a novel’s manuscript, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. You have to be good at writing concisely.”
So far Giles has written three books with publisher Maverick Arts: ‘The Fearsome Beastie’, ‘Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball’ and’ Princess Stay Awake’. The book ‘Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs’ was published with Parragon, a publisher who is also bringing out the follow up called ‘Things You Never Knew About Santa Clause’. Giles has got another book coming out with a new publisher called Fat Fox Books. “I’m really excited about working with this publisher as well. They’re really enthusiastic,” he says.
As much as Giles enjoys his work as a children’s books author, his biggest and foremost passion is music. From the late 90’s till 2003 he played in a band called Little Ten. “We did a few festivals, played at Glastonbury, toured around the UK and released a couple of EP’s. Unfortunately, the singer left the band. Nowadays I’m in a band called Burnthouse, with the same drummer. We released a single at the end of last year. We all have children, so doing gigs isn’t as easy as it used to be,” he confides. “But we enjoy the creative part of music the best, to be frank. The writing, creating and recording of new songs.”
Best and worst aspects
What does Giles enjoy most about his work as a children’s author? “Because I’m a musician, I enjoy performing. That’s why I find reading in front of an audience at schools and festivals and creative writing workshops one of the best aspects. Actually, I think I enjoy that part even more than writing the books!” he quips. “On the flipside, there’s the fact I have to be away from my family for book tours and such. That’s a bit of a downside. Then there’s editing, which is not one of my favourite parts… I don’t consider myself to be a born writer. I think some people are naturally gifted, but I have to put quite a bit of work into it. But it’s amazing and really special to have the end result, the actual book, in your hands at the end of the process and it’s nice that I can read my own stories to my children. It was never something I envisioned for myself, but it’s great! In the future I might write more in verse and maybe for an older audience, but for now I really enjoy writing for children. It’s just so much fun.”