Writing is a career choice filled with wonder, and one where self-publishing offers the ideal route to your readers
By Julie Hodgson
Julie Hodgson is an award-winning British children’s and YA author. Now based in Portugal, where she runs the Bookmark Evora Bookshop, she travels across Europe and further afield to promote her books and engage with young readers. She is passionate about writing and teaching important values to young children. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have scooped multiple accolades including the New Apple Award for Excellence, Readers’ Favourite Book Award and Wishing Shelf Book Award.
In an exclusive blog for Palamedes, Julie reveals her own writing journey and why she prefers self-publishing to traditional publishers.
The many things I have learned along the way, with my writing, is never take it for granted. Never assume that someone will “like” to read, or not, what I write just because I love the written word. It’s an added bonus if someone enjoys what I do.
I have always usually written for small children and teens, as I love delving into that genre. My stories always have a moral twist to them. And I also love to send out a message – kindness, always be good etc. One of my books that has just been translated into Portuguese is The Magic Pillows, which teaches the three R’s, which in this case is ‘Recycle’, ‘Reuse’ and ‘Renew’. It is complemented by brightly coloured illustrations for the young. I feel it’s important to let the children enjoy a book, but a little learning helps too, especially when they are under five years old.
I first started writing, composing poetry, at the age of nine, and my English teacher encouraged me. By the time I was an adult I had quite a few stories under my belt. Working for the Times newspaper in Kuwait helped my writing develop and enabled me to meet fellow authors. Being both traditionally and self-published, I have experienced the best of both worlds. But I do LOVE self-publishing, as I have total control of what I do, the title and contents. I have made so many wonderful contacts over the years, including illustrators, editors, “formatters”, from all over the world. There are so many to choose from, and you are in control.
I remember feeling heartbroken when my traditional publisher wanted to change the title, and the illustrations they provided were awful! Needless to say, I wasn’t happy and wouldn’t let them have any other of my manuscripts.
I have taken a lot of my ideas and been influenced by the students I meet at the schools I travel to. I am a compulsive people watcher and love to see their characters in ‘3D’, so to speak. For example, when I penned Jodie and the Library Card, one of my favourite books I have written so far, I was sat in a library in Rome, and wondered how awful it would be if there were no books at all? In this world of gadgets, that is the one thing I would hate: if we couldn’t pick up a tome of wonder and read and disappear into another world for a while. This gave me the idea of Jodie, the main character, who had a library card that gave no books, just the ability to time travel, which she did and got into all manner of scrapes.
I have recently finished a Forensic psychology and criminology course, which will aid me in writing in a more detective-orientated genre for the young reader. This is a truly fascinating subject that can get rather gory at times, but interesting none the less. This will help me write in a different way; it’s always good to change and never too late to learn new things. So that will be my next project, maybe an Agatha Christie or Nancy Drew type novel? Who knows. That’s the whole fun about writing: the blank page is yours, and yours alone, to fill with whatever you choose.
Writing is a passion, a life-changing lifestyle, filled with wonder and a never-ending flow of ideas.