Thursday, 7 July 2022

Emma Finlayson-Palmer - Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #30


We are celebrating the publication of Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) which is the debut book of Emma Finlayson-Palmer. It is due to be published on the 7th July 2022 by UCLan Publishing  (Preston University). The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon and is part of a series of stories following the main character Autumn Moonbean. Younger readers can follow her adventures and life experiences. In this interview, we find out more about the book and the author. It is a chance to celebrate together the publication with a sparkle, a dance, and a flourish of magic. We hope you enjoy it and thanks for visiting. 


  • Your first book is for 5-8-year-old readers, Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic and is due to be published in July 2022 (UCLan); what magical fantasy world have you created for the story?

Autumn lives in an area called Sparkledale in a country called Cauldronia, where creatures live and do similar things to me or you but with a magical twist. There are spell-a-visions and talking doorbells that will shout at you to answer the door, and a main character who dreams of one day joining a dance club, and going to the Aaarghlympics.

  • Autumn Moonbeam is the main character of the book; how do you think younger readers will be able to identify with the character?

    Whilst it's not mentioned as such in the book, Autumn is autistic, and I hope some of her neurodivergent traits will feel familiar to younger readers. And certainly the anxious fluttering moths in her tummy, shyness, and sometimes being a little clumsy will be relatable to many readers. She's a worrier, but she's also kind and loyal and is determined to follow her dreams.

  • As an adult writer, what process(es) do you undertake to write for this age group, and do you think you have got all of the aspects you wanted to include in the book right?

    I'm a mom to five children, worked as a childminder for over 13 years, been a helper in playgroups, and I'm also working as a lunchtime supervisor in a primary and have done for over seven years, so I've had a lot of experience around children who are the same age as Autumn and her friends. In truth, I never left that more playful stage myself, it was around the age of 8 or 9 that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I hope I've got all the aspects in that I wanted, and feel like I've created authentic characters (albeit witches and fairies and other magical beings), that children will be able to identify with or get excited by.

  • The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon; what can you tell us about the illustrations and how do they contribute to the storyline? 

    Heidi has done such an amazing job at bringing Autumn's world to life. Despite being an artist myself, I couldn't have imagined all the intricate details that Heidi has created. The illustrations are so much fun, and often there are small details to spot in the background. Heidi's images bring the words alive.

  • What hurdles did you have to overcome to get your book published? Do you have any good tips for writers who are looking to get published?

    I have been writing for many years, and started off writing letters and short stories to magazines in the hope of getting into print. Once I discovered I especially loved children's fiction I tried writing for all different ages groups over the years and have discovered that I have a special love for the magic of chapter books. I would highly recommended reading as much as you can when you are a writer. It's one of the key things to being a good writer, I think. Read new releases, see what sort of stories are popular, and what trends there are, don't follow a trend, just learn from it. Most importantly, write something that excites you, because if that book gets an agent or publisher's interest you're going to be working on edits and talking about the same story a lot, and also your passion will shine through in your writing.

  • You have a big passion for reading children's books; which book has recently caught your attention?

    I read a lot so it's hard to pin down just the one but I've recently read Three Girls by Katie Clapham, such a heart warming tale of friendship and a passion for running. I've also recently read the second Rainbow Grey book, Laura Ellen Anderson's books are an absolute joy to read and to see her stunning illustrations.

  • What are your favourite blogs or websites for writers? 

    Write Mentor has been a wonderful and supportive community to be part of and I can highly recommend getting involved. The same with Write MAGIC too, such wonderful supportive writers with fun groups to take part in sprints and other writing activities. 

  • Is there a dream you have yet to follow and could it make it into any future books?

    Ooh this is both a hard but really interesting question. One dream I've always had is to see the aurora borealis, that could definitely feature in a future story. I've also got my more unrealistic dream of being able to turn into a bird and fly, so that will definitely have to be lives through my writing!

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