Today I am excited to welcome author Sharon Tregenza to the Conclave of Sappho. Sharon Tregenza is the author of The Shiver Stone and Tarantula Tide, two adventure books aimed at pre-teens. My own children have read Sharon’s work and enjoyed it enormously, and I highly recommend these books. Welcome, Sharon!
First of all – tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I read prolifically and I’m a big Netflix fan. Good drama is always a thrill. I enjoy education for is own sake too and recently completed a second Masters degree. I have a wide circle of family and friends – so I love having people stay.
When did you start writing? Or have you always done so?
I’ve always written is the pat answer but I began writing for publication many years ago – mostly stories for magazines and competitions.
Have you written other novels/works that have not been published?
Odd you should ask that. Many years ago a big publisher showed a great deal of interest in my first children’s book – there was even talk of an animated film. When it was suddenly dropped I was heart-broken. I tucked it away in a dusty corner of my computer and forgot about it. Recently I’ve taken it out, dusted it off, and taken another look at it. I think it still has potential so I’m reworking it and will see what my agent thinks.
Very pleased to hear that, and I look forward to hearing more about it. Now, onto your published work. What inspired you to write The Shiver Stone and Tarantula Tide?
I remember vividly the influence books had on me when I was eight to twelve years old. I wanted to recreate that myself. Both of those books have the sense of mystery and adventure that thrilled me then.
Do the characters in Tarantula Tide live through the adventure you dreamt of having as a young girl?
Being terrified of spiders I would have been much more like Jack than Izzie!
What about the location – does Shetland mean anything special to you?
I only visited once many years ago – my husband worked in the oil industry – but the strange treeless landscape had a deep effect on me.
You seem to have an affinity with nature: animals are portrayed as suffering in The Shiver Stone – a pony and a dog. Is there a message you are trying to put across here?
There is an element of anti-cruelty to creatures in both of those books. Something I feel very strongly about.
The underlying topics in your books, such as dark secrets and dangerous adventures, are not simple matters. What do you think about introducing children to these themes?
I think it’s important for children to explore different themes and experience (even if it is from the safety of their own homes). Secrets and danger have has been an important part of children’s literature.
How about the level of vocabulary in your books? Do you think we should introduce children to more advanced vocabulary, or is it best to keep it simple?
“Never write down to kids” is a lesson frequently reiterated by children’s authors past and present and I couldn’t agree more. I always found that books that challenged as well as entertained stayed with me longest. Learning new words and expressions is a thrilling part of the challenge.
What is the overall impression you hope readers will take from your books? Are there lessons for children to learn?
There are always lessons for children to learn from books but hopefully they are absorbed as a natural part of the reading process – not imparted as “wisdom” to be acquired.
What’s next? Are you planning a sequel for each one?
Hmm, there’s plenty of “next” happening. I am writing two more stand-alone mystery books and I also have a meeting with a big publisher coming up to discuss the possibility of a picture book (something I’ve always wanted to do). Exciting times.
Thankyou, Sharon, and I wish you the best with your upcoming projects.
The Shiver Stone was highly commended for the Welsh Children’s Book Award 2015 and is available here.
Tarantula Tide was the winner of the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award 2010 and is available here.