The Short Version:
Emily Gale has been involved in the children’s book industry for nearly twenty years. In the UK she worked as an editor for Penguin and Egmont, and later as a freelance manuscript consultant and pre-school book writer. In Australia she has worked with literary agent Sheila Drummond, finding new children’s and YA authors; she has reviewed for Bookseller and Publisher, been a judge for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (YA Category) and spent several happy years at independent bookshop Readings as a children’s buyer, during which time she was instrumental in establishing the Readings Children’s Book Prize. Emily’s writing includes two novels for teenagers – Girl, Aloud in 2009, Steal My Sunshine in 2013 – and Eliza Boom’s Diary, in 2014, for younger readers. Her next novel, The Other Side of Summer, will be published in June 2016 by Penguin Random House.
Additional note: My reading and professional life has been devoted to Australia Young Adult Fiction for the past five years. I’m one of many supporters of the #LoveOzYA movement. Click here to get my perspective of Australia YA in the current publishing climate.
The Long, Whimsical Version:
Part One: When I was little, I must have overheard someone say: “She’s going to be a writer” because I grew up believing that one day I would be. Maybe they weren’t even talking about me. In any case, such a sparkly idea is exactly the kind of thing I’d have stolen and kept it under my pillow. (I was going to say “like a magpie” but then I looked it up and discovered that the idea of a thieving magpie being drawn to shiny objects is a myth. I love research.)
Part Two: Bear with me, this is still about when I was little. Many weekends my brother and I would stay with my granny and she’d take us to a bookshop. We were allowed to choose a book each. Then we’d go next door to the newsagents and choose a chocolate bar each. Me: Fry’s Peppermint Cream. My brother: Fry’s Five Centres. I remember believing with utter certainty that I had better taste in chocolate, not to mention books.
At the time I didn’t realise how lucky I was to be getting books for birthdays and Christmas as well, as much as I cherished having my nose in one. I perfected my fake smile aged nine when I received a Thesaurus. But I still have that Thesaurus and, more importantly, many of the books that were the foundations of my imaginary life when I was growing up: Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte Sometimes, and dozens of books that weren’t about anybody called Charlotte. To this day I love reading children’s books. (P.S. My granny was a bit like Essie in my novel Steal My Sunshine.)
Part Three: We can skip a few decades now, during which I wrote lots of bad poetry, went to uni, became a children’s book editor, fell in love and out of love a few times, had two children and finally retrieved the sparkly idea from under my pillow. Maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that.
I wrote my first book in 2005. It was never published. (This is probably a good thing.) I wrote my second book in 2006 and it was published in 2013 (Steal My Sunshine). I wrote my third book in 2007 and it was published in 2009 (Girl, Aloud). In between I’ve worked as a freelance editor, a reader for a literary agent, and a children’s book buyer in an indie bookstore. I’ve written Young Adult, picture books, junior fiction, and my work-in-progress is upper-middle/lower YA fiction. It might sound like I’m a bit all over the place, but if you went looking for themes in my work you’d find them.
My heart will always belong to London, where I grew up, but my current home (Melbourne, Australia) is truly under my skin.
Part Four: I find the writing life frustrating and heart-breaking but impossible to resist. This quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own is my mantra.
“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”