Ella English has been passionate about art ever since she held her first paintbrush at age three, and was encouraged by her family to pursue art ever since. She is the mother of two grown daughters who loved books, ballet and singing when they were small. She decided to start writing and illustrating books when she realized how important it was to nurture creativity in children. Her hope is that this book will encourage parents to be proud of their children’s singing, no matter what it sounds like!
She lives in Baltimore with her three cats, including a singing black and white tuxedo called Mouse. This yowling kitty inspired her to write this story about a lovable New York cat who is bored with her everyday life and longs to break free and sing to an audience beyond the critters in her garden who tell her she can’t sing. Her next book to be published is a middle grade novel about zombie mermaids.
Let’s get started with a quick rapid fire.
Q1. If you could be transformed into one animal, which one would you choose?
I would probably go with an octopus because they have eight legs and the ability to solve problems.
Q2. Finish the phrase “the way to my heart is…”
Through gourmet chocolate.
Q3. Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m an ambivert – I can be social or introspective, depending on the task at hand.
Q4. Do you watch shows one episode at a time or binge whole seasons?
I usually binge whole seasons and my favorite series is Stranger Things. As someone who was a child in the 80s, it is almost like time travel, as the aesthetic details are so accurate to those times.
Q5. Would you rather travel to the past or to the future?
If I could travel to the future, I’d love to see if robots finally take over the world and whether they end up bossing humans around. If I had to go to the past, I’d probably just end up correcting everyone’s grammar all the time.
Q6. What is your last Google search?
Trip to Porto in Portugal, what to see?
Q7. What object do you misplace or lose the most?
My glasses. I have many pairs and am always losing them around the house and down the back of the sofa.
Q8. What is the kindest thing someone ever did for you?
It was nice when all my friends brought round food after I had had a baby, so I had food for a couple of weeks.
Q9. If given the chance to start your life over, would you take it?
Yes I would, but I would prefer to be born under different circumstances and in another country.
Q10. What is the best present you have ever received?
I had my first child during the Christmas period, so that was the best Christmas present ever.
Q11. Describe your style in one word.
Q12. If you were to devote the rest of your life to philanthropy, what cause would you choose?
Stopping the mistreatment of animals; domestic, wild and in farms.
It’s time for a more detailed conversation, Ella.
You’ve answered our rapid fire brilliantly, Ella. Now, it’s time for our readers to know more about the person behind the book.
Q. Describe your journey so far.
I have written books and published under a variety of pen names. I started by writing thrillers. It is great fun to think of the perfect murder and to hope no one guesses who did the murder until the end. I also wrote a book called Cocktails at Naptime, a hilarious romp through the first year after having a baby. I have also penned chick lit novels and romance books. At the moment I am concentrating on kid lit under the name Ella English. I also illustrate my children’s books.
Q. So, what books did you grow up reading?
I was a huge fan of Judy Blume and when I was ten, although I am from the UK, I wrote a book set in the USA, where I was the eldest of six kids, about all the chaos that ensued as I helped bring them up. Like, in one scene toothpaste squirts all over the ceiling. I used all American words like ‘diaper’ and ‘trash can’ in my book. I guess I have always been very maternal and always wanted a lot of brothers and sisters or to have a lot of kids. Weirdly enough when I grew up I moved to the USA, so fiction became fact, except that I don’t have five siblings!
I was also mesmerized by the life of Pippi Longstocking. Not only was her dad absent, missing at sea before turning out to be a king of a South Sea island, but also Pippi had a pet horse that lived in her kitchen. She was so inspirational to me. She had so much freedom and didn’t have to follow any rules or even go to school! And her hair was amazing too.
Q. Interesting. Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself?
Yes, seeing a book in print and potentially receiving positive feedback from readers validated my writing abilities and reinforced my identity as an author. This newfound confidence and recognition had a profound impact on my self-esteem and overall sense of self-worth.
On the downside, working with agents can be soul destroying, because even if you have an agent, sometimes they will drop you if they cannot sell your manuscript. It is fair enough, as publishing is a commercial enterprise, but this aspect of publishing can be disheartening too. Just remember to never give up!
Q. Would you share something about yourself that your readers don’t know (yet)?
My dad is British and my mom is Austrian, so that makes me an Austrish 🙂
Q. Now comes the most anticipated question that every author must answer. How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
Negative book reviews can be tough to deal with, but I always remember that even J.K. Rowling gets them, so they are a normal part of the publishing process.
Generally speaking, I don’t take them personally. I try to avoid getting defensive or emotional about negative reviews. I try and understand that the reviewers may have had a specific set of expectations or preferences that my book didn’t meet.
Sometimes, if I am feeling overwhelmed by negative reviews, it helps to take a break from reading them for a while. Overall, I try not to let negative reviews get to me and stay focused on my goals, while continuing to write from the heart.
Q. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
Often I will start with the place where the story will occur. I will travel somewhere and the landscape speaks to me and the trees whisper a story to me. Then I start imagining the characters, and sometimes they appear in my dreams demanding to be in my story.
Q. How do you develop your plot and characters?
I start by generating ideas for my story and the characters that will populate it. Then I organize my ideas into a rough outline of the story’s structure, including key events and turning points.
As I flesh out the characters, I try to think about how their motivations and actions drive the story forward. I add and remove events as needed to make sure the story is engaging and makes sense.
Q. What does literary success look like to you?
I just enjoy it if some people like my books and takes the time to write great reviews or to get in touch to tell me what they enjoyed about them.
Q. Let’s talk about your book. Tell us about it. No major spoilers.
KATY ON BROADWAY is a chapter book for ages 4-7 about a cat who loved to sing, even when everyone around her told her she couldn’t. But she keeps dreaming she will be a singer someday, and nothing can stop her from trying to reach for the stars. But although things keep going wrong, she never stops trying.
It is the first in the KITTY IN THE CITY series about this singing feline who cannot avoid getting into all sorts of mischief in the Big Apple. So watch out for the next book, it’s coming soon!
Q. What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
The middle of the book is hard because you have to keep thowing obstacles in the protaganist’s path while also weaving all the strands of the plot together.
Q. If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
I would love to have a dinner party with all the villains that have populated my books. I would like to find out what really makes them tick and I will have to hope they didn’t poison my wine while I wasn’t looking.
Q. What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?
I prefer to create a basic outline, but then the chatacters usually take the wheel and steer the plot this way and that, so it may change a little by the time I am finished.
Q. Let’s talk about the process of writing. When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?
I like to play with the pace. I vary the speed at which I describe events to create tension and suspense, or to slow the pace down to allow the reader to fully experience the emotions in a scene.
Q. What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
I find the book becomes chaotic if I start with just a premise and keep writing and see where it goes. It always ends up in a big tangled mess, in my experience.
Q. It’s been fun. Now, before we wrap this up, do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Yes, if you are writing a novel make sure to write a certain amount of words every day. That way you will finish in good time and then can go back and start the agonizing process of editing it.