Cally Pepper has had a varied career working for the NHS, running her own business, working as a volunteer counsellor and currently works part time as Practice Manager of a doctors’ surgery in Liverpool.
INTERVIEW WITH CALLY PEPPER:
How did you get started writing?
When I was a little girl I used to love writing stories. I dreamed of writing a book one day, I’d write the first couple of chapters, a few hundred words, draw a picture for the book cover, and then abandon it.
Many years later when my young niece started to lose her baby teeth, her mum asked if I would be her ‘tooth fairy’, and write letters to leave under her pillow. My niece and I would correspond regularly, asking and answering questions about the Fairy World and the folk who lived there. I found a beautiful gossamer insect wing by a stream one day, and told her it was a fairy wing. I even half-believed it to be true.
Now my niece is a very grown up thirteen year-old and has outgrown the tooth fairy, but the Fairy World stayed in my mind. I started developing my ideas, driven to create a world that could exist. ‘Bird Without Wings’ was born, the first in the FAEBLES trilogy, based on a very ordinary teenage girl who discovers a world that exists in parallel to our world, the Fae World. But whereas my tooth fairy letters were full of sugar and spice, sweetness and light, the Fae World is tinged with darkness and realism, good against evil, confusion and conflict.
I wrote two-thirds of the novel but then abandoned it in a moment of uncertainty and self-doubt, deciding it was nonsense, rubbish, silly, nobody would ever want to read it. I forgot about it for almost two years, but early last year I rediscovered the manuscript on my computer. Curiosity got the better of me and I printed it out, sat in the garden and started to read it through. And I was strangely hooked. I had forgotten much of the plot and was avidly turning the pages, anxious to read what happened next. It wasn’t perfect, obviously, and it did need a heavy edit. But I dusted off my keyboard, flexed my fingers and finished writing my first novel.
Who influenced you?
I would love to be able to give an intellectual answer and name a handful of famous and renowned literary writers, but the fact is the two authors who inspired me most in my work are firstly Helen Fielding who wrote the original Bridget Jones books, and secondly Sophie Kinsella who wrote the Shopaholic series of books. These two writers inject their own unique and unpretentious style into their writing. This uniqueness taught me to find my own voice and have confidence in my own style of writing.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
As mentioned earlier, in my FAEBLES books, I am able to indulge in a little escapism and create a world that I wish to be real. I love exploring this fantasy world, seeing where the characters will take the story. I need to like the characters I create, even the evil ones. The characters take on a life of their own as the story progresses, and they constantly surprise me. The second book in the series, which I am writing at the moment, has taken a very surprising turn and although the basic plot is planned out in advance, I am very excited to see how this unexpected development knits into the plot and changes the story.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Pick up a pen, pencil, laptop, tablet or eye-liner and get started. And then keep writing! Don’t worry about whether you are ‘good enough’. The fact is, we are all different and you are never going to please everybody. Try not to worry about your grammar, spelling or turn of phrase being perfect, that can be sorted out later. Just get on with your story, and enjoy the journey.
Whenever my work gets criticism or a negative review, I try to ‘take it on the chin’ and then keep going. I remind myself that not everybody is going to like my book and that’s okay. We all have different likes, dislikes, tastes and fancies. After all, not everybody likes chocolate, but an awful lot of us do!!
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a room at the rear of my house with patio doors out into the garden. I have a desk with a computer, and I usually am accompanied by my elderly (and very lazy) cat and my two crazy Labrador dogs. In the summer I sit with the French doors open and the fresh air and sunshine streams in. In the evenings I can smell the scent of jasmine and wild roses. My neighbours keep chickens and ducks so I often hear clucking, quacking, squawking and the occasional cock-a-doodle-doo from beyond the garden fence. But despite the farmyard sounds, and the chaos created when the cat chases the two spineless dogs down the garden (yes, you did read that correctly), my ‘garden room’ is the place I feel most at peace, and it is where I love to write.
What else would you like to tell us?
Reading has always been a huge part of my life, from Enid Blyton’s exciting adventures as a child, to the many different genres as an adult from chic-lit to fantasy, crime and adventure, drama and romance. When I walk into a book shop I feel like a child at Christmas. And now I can buy any book, at any time, at the click of a button, and it will arrive on my e-book reader within a whisker of a moment. There just isn’t enough time in a whole lifetime to read all the books I would like to read.
Losing yourself in a book can be healing, inspiring, can make you smile, laugh, cry, think. It can make you understand how it feels inside somebody else’s heart and mind, it can broaden your opinions. It can make you forget your own worries, immerse yourself in somebody else’s world. I am never lonely whilst I have a book. Many a book has changed the way I see life, the way I feel, the way I love, or the way I understand somebody else’s point of view. How many of us have embarrassed ourselves by snorting with laughter or dissolving into tears in a public place whilst reading a good book?
If my books can entertain you, if they can make you feel happy, sad, intrigued, excited, or even just a sprinkling of these feelings, then I will be happy.