Today my visitor is Sheryl Gwyther, author of the newly-released Princess Clown. Sheryl is also author of the outback adventure ‘Secrets of Eromanga’ and the soon-to-be-released ‘Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper. This visit is part of her blog tour and I wanted to ask Sheryl a bit more about her and what’s behind her writing.

Welcome Sheryl!

* Are you a princess or a clown? Or both?

Very funny question, Claire, and rather astute too, I suspect. I’m a bit of both. Clowns and princesses look like they may be extroverted, but both wear masks to mask their true feelings. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile not showing what you really think – maybe that’s the diplomat in me. I don’t act like a ‘princessy-princess though – especially with fashion. I don’t like high heels and uncomfortable clothes – so I could never wear a crown!

PS Wonder why my husband laughed when I said I don’t act like a princess?

* What are some Highlights and Lowlights of writing for the education market?

Princess Clown is the first chapter book I have written for the education market, with Blake Publishing. I have another one coming out in August called Charlie & the Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Pearson Education).

I have enjoyed writing them – they are quicker to write (considering the other story I’m working on at the moment is 56,000 words long) but because chapter books are the first books that look similar to what the big kids read, it’s important to get it right. The stories must be enjoyable so developing readers want to keep reading.

Can’t think of any lowlights!

* What are the advantages of writing in a series? Are there any disadvantages?

For me there were no disadvantages. My book is one of a set of 8, although each can be bought as a separate title. I didn’t even know what the other books were about until they all came out.

I reckon Blake’s publisher chose a fantastic mix of styles and stories. Advantages might include more copies being sold in schools and maybe even overseas.

Do you find it easier to write short, or write long? What’s different when you write short?

Both have their appeal. I love the tightness of working on a short chapter book (usually around 1200 words). But I also dearly love getting involved in a longer story with intricate plots and sub-plots, development of interesting characters, working on dialogue – just for a start.

I also do lots of research for these longer stories – I love researching!

For a story I’ve just finished, I had to find out as much as I could about how the Great Depression affected regional Australia in 1929 – seeing as I wasn’t alive then.

* Do you find it easier to write short, or write long? What’s different when you write short?

Writing short stories is a skill on its own. In some ways it’s harder. I started with 3000 words for Princess Clown. I had to cut out words – got it down to 1200 and then the publisher cut out more when they did their edit.

So you can see how tricky it is to get the perfect choice of words in the short story.

Another different thing was having full colour pictures in Princess Clown. The illustrator, Sian Naylor did a fantastic job! I love her work on the characters in my book. They are full of life and expression – especially Princess Belle. Sian captures Belle’s lively spirit perfectly.

*I’ve noticed that I’ve asked you two questions with each of the previous so here’s a single question to finish up with…

I hear you’ve been practising your juggling. What other circus-worthy skills can you share with readers?

Haha, yes, Claire, I’ve been practising juggling – it’s difficult but I won’t give up until I can do it.

I’ve never walked the tightrope, and I’ve never ridden an elephant. Does riding on the back of a Brahmin bull count? Here’s a picture to prove I did that when I was 13.

Riding a Brahmin! That sounds circus enough for me. Thanks for visiting, Sheryl and sharing more of your story.

To learn more about Sheryl and her work, see below.


Princess Clown:

Charlie & the Red Hot Chilli Pepper:

Sheryl’s links:

Writers’ blog:

Writing for Kids blog:


Blog Tour Stops

06 July Tuesday Dee White – Tips on writing chapter books

07 July Wednesday Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

08 July Thursday Robyn Opie

09 July Friday Catriona Hoy

10 July Saturday Kat Apel

11 July Sunday Sheryl Gwyther 4 kids

12 July Monday Sandy Fussell

13 July Tuesday Sally Murphy

14 July Wednesday Claire Saxby HERE!

15 July Thursday Mabel Kaplan