Welcome to this virtual landscape where SCBWI-BI members share their debut journeys with us.
This month Helen Victoria steps out with author Tracy Curran, whose debut picture book Pumpkin's Fairytale is out now. 

                                                              Let’s begin our journey...

There’s nothing like a good walk to fuel creative ideas and give us inspiration in our writing. Where are you taking us on our walk today? 

We’re heading through the woods by my house and down to the golden dunes of Perranporth Beach. I’m lucky enough to live in Cornwall where there are so many wonderful places to explore. This walk has to be my favourite, however, as it’s right on my doorstep and has been instrumental to my writing inspiration. 

What about the landscape you have created in your picture book? How important is the setting to your plot and themes? 

Pumpkin’s Fairytale is a twist on a famous fairy tale classic. In fairy tales, atmospheric landscapes are key. I love the ominous or magical feel of dense woods, open fields and shadowy castles which traditional tales use so often. (Strangely there’s rarely any beaches though!) I wanted to reflect my love of these settings in Pumpkin’s story as he heads out on his journey. 

As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand steps starts with one. Tell us about your inspiration for your picture book. 

My inspiration for Pumpkin’s Fairytale sprang from my love of fairy tales, pumpkins and from my excitement of bringing inanimate objects to life. In the original story, Cinderella’s pumpkin is rather cruelly cast aside after playing an important role because-well-he’s just a pumpkin. I love exploring different points of view and thought it would be fun to make him a character in his own right and see how he felt about things. 

Now we have got into our stride, can you tell us what you loved most about writing this book? 

The magic of it! Once Pumpkin sprang into being, he just seemed to crackle with charm and his story felt special from the get-go. I loved that the tale had that traditional fairy tale feel that I love so much and writing in rhyme added an extra bouncy challenge. Out of everything I’ve written, this story remains my firm favourite. 

We seem to be lost in the woods now. Can you describe your most difficult moments when you were writing …and how you got back onto the right path? 

Pumpkin’s Fairytale listed in a couple of competitions and received positive feedback from the start. Unfortunately though, agents didn’t seem to love it as much as I did and I found this tough. I’m still unagented but I’m far more relaxed about this now. I am always open to change and feedback and Pumpkin has been through many different drafts for the better thanks to brilliant advice I’ve received along the way. It got to the point, though, where I’d taken the story as far as I could and you just have to keep believing that you will find the right match with an agent or publisher. 

As we reach the summit, can you tell us how it feels to be a first time author? 

It feels amazing, especially as Pumpkin’s Fairytale has received such a warm reception. However, the initial decision to accept the offer of publication was tricky. Final Chapter are a small indie publisher and relatively new and I received a lot of mixed advice about placing Pumpkin with them. Mostly, I was worried about making a decision that would impact on my hopes for a long-term writing career. In the end though, I loved their shared vision for the story and went with my gut instinct. I don’t regret it. Final Chapter are a team of the loveliest people who have done a tremendous job. I have to mention Wayne Oram, the illustrator, here too. He was the one who truly made Pumpkin come to life – and VERY quickly! 

We’ve finished our walk now so I think we deserve to celebrate with tea in a cosy inn. As we warm our feet by the blazing fire, tell me where you think your writing will take you in the future? 

I honestly don’t know! I’ve had some exhilarating highs and excruciating lows but I’m not giving up. I’m still writing picture books and chapter books and am lucky enough to be part of the All Stories mentorship, which I applied for before Pumpkin came to fruition. Funding writing courses is tough for most people, especially for me as I’m a carer. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I’ve received from so many people. I just love it too much to stop! 

Finally, I have really enjoyed walking and talking with you today. Can you give us one take away tip for yet-to-be-published writers? 

It has to be don’t give up! Imposter syndrome constantly affects me as a writer because there’s so much phenomenal talent out there and I’m just ‘little old me’. Just keep believing that you have something unique to offer, work hard, take every opportunity and try and find your niche. Fairy tale retellings are something I love so I need to be more confident and own that.
All my earliest childhood memories come accompanied with a book or a notepad. I wrote and read from a young age, split between an urban suburb in the West Midlands and the coastal wilderness of West Cornwall. Aged sixteen, I moved to Cornwall full-time and eventually carved a career as a primary school teacher. This became my creative outlet, of which storytelling was a big part. I have now put teaching on the back burner to become a carer for my daughter and to follow my dreams of writing.

Follow Tracy:

Twitter - @writercornish

Blog - Little Cornish Writer 

Book review blog - The Breadcrumb Forest


Helen Victoria is a writer of YA fiction, a full-time drama teacher and a reader of anything and everything. When she is not putting on shows, reading or writing, Helen loves to walk in wild places, or hang out with her family and friends in London, France and Cornwall.

Follow Helen:
Imogen Foxell is an illustrator with a particular interest in creating intricate imaginary worlds. She illustrates English literature revision cards for, and interesting words for Her website is Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. 

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