Elevenses with… Sylvia Bishop
Hi Sylvia! What is the first thing you remember writing?
There were various projects at school, but the first thing I remember getting really stuck into at home was a magical story about quadruplets who could talk to each other telepathically, and were royalty on an island where four was a portentous number. I found some of it recently and honestly I’m not sure I’ve got much better in the meantime. Not sure whether that makes me feel good or bad.
What location from a story would you like to visit?
Sara Crewe’s attic in the Little Princess, after it’s been secretly filled up with beautiful things by her neighbours, to surprise her. I’m a sucker for anything cosy and that scene just blows me away.
Which character from a book would you like to meet in person?
Oh, that’s hard! Right now in lockdown I might choose Olga da Polga, Michael Bond’s mischievous guinea pig. I used to love the quiet company of my guinea pigs on my lap as a child. I’m missing a lot of people right now, and it might be nice to have a cheeky Olga da Polga on my lap while I work to cheer me up.
From whom would you most like to receive a letter?
I’ve already had it in real life! Dianna Wynne Jones is my writer idol, and she wrote to me when I was nine. It’s a wonderful letter, and I still have it. I can’t beat that.
Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Start writing! No-one gives you permission to be a writer, and the job never gets fancier or more ‘real’ – it’s still just me, a biro and a notepad (I like to hand write first). I often do it in my pyjamas, and it’s just the same as doing it when I was young. So don’t wait. Read, too; that’s the single best education in writing well.
What is your next book about?
I have a book coming out on 23rd July about a girl who wants to please her pianist parents by getting good at the piano herself. She receives some mysterious help in the form of forty-four African pygmy mice… It’s a story about being yourself, and truthfulness. And lots of mice.
What is the silliest word you can think of?
Discombobulate. Mmmm. Sometimes when things are a bit serious it’s soothing just to remember that this is a real actual word in the world.
Sylvia’s book 44 Tiny Secrets is available to pre-order now!