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Interview: Carole Bromley


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Five: New Beginnings with a sneak peek of the poem "Moving Day" by Carole Bromley. A white page with orange text and a drawing of moving boxes.

 

Carole Bromley lives in York. She writes for both adults and children. Her poems have been published in The Caterpillar, Tyger,Tyger, The Toy, Paper Lanterns, Dirigible Balloon, anthologies from MacMillan and Emma Press, and in a Smith/Doorstop collection, Blast Off. She was the winner of the 2022 Caterpillar Prize.

 

Little Thoughts Press: You write for both adults and children. Apart from content, obviously, what distinctions do you draw between your writing for kids and your writing for adults? How do your style and approach to writing for these two audiences differ? In what ways is it the same?


Carole Bromley: Interestingly, my approach is very similar whether writing for adults or children. There has to be a spark in the first place and you have to become caught up in the creative process. Having said that, I suppose I do have a specific audience in mind when writing for children and, obviously, depending on the age of the target audience, the tone and language used have to be appropriate. Sometimes there can be a crossover. For example, I have included several children’s poems in my adults’ collections and, conversely, often find that children respond to poems which were written for adults. I don’t agree with people who think children’s poems are purely for entertainment either. Poetry can help with difficult situations and, sadly, children face those too - death of grandparents, divorce of parents, bullying and other problems at school or with friends and so on. I certainly use humour more in children’s poems and I know they love that. They also really love rhyme and rhythm so traditional form is an advantage too. Also, if you write a sonnet or a sestina or a simpler form like triolets or cinquains that can be useful in the classroom. Both the poems which you included in Issue 5 are about situations which can be a challenge for children: moving house and wearing glasses for the first time. I hope I put a positive spin on both.



Little Thoughts Press: Issue 5: New Beginnings is all about fresh starts and new experiences. Can you tell us how you started writing kid-lit and what drew you to creating stories for young readers?


Carole Bromley: I started writing seriously for children about ten years ago after a wonderful course with Carol Ann Duffy. I found being given permission to just have fun so liberating and came away with lots of ideas for approaches to writing poems. I read and read and would wake up early and scribble like mad. The poems just poured out of me. In 2014 I sent some off to the Manchester Writing for Children prize and was shortlisted. We had experimented with rewriting fairytales and one poem written on the course, ‘Goldilocks’, was performed later that year at the CLiPPA Awards. It was the most exciting thing to look round at hundreds of children’s faces and see their enthusiasm for poetry. I decided then and there to write more for children.


Little Thoughts Press: What do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?


Carole Bromley: The most rewarding thing about writing for children is their love for poetry and the warm and excited reception you get when performing for them. The one challenging thing is publication! There are so few children’s publishers and even fewer outlets for books. Kids love poetry. They need poetry but you wouldn’t think so from the lack of poetry books on shelves in bookshops. I have had poems in most of the wonderful poetry magazines in the UK and US, I have a collection and am in many anthologies so I am lucky but it is an uphill struggle to establish yourself in such a small world. I have to say, though, that the warmth and friendship among children’s poets is just the loveliest thing.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Carole Bromley: I gobbled up the classics as far as fiction goes. I was a real bookworm and haunted libraries. My grandmother loved poetry and I read my way through her adult poetry books as a child but only remember having Walter de la Mare read to me at home. And Lewis Carroll and Robert Louis Stevenson. At school I discovered a wider range and remember being blown away by The Highwayman and The Brook.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Carole Bromley: So many! Where do I start? Matt Goodfellow, Laura Mucha, Lorraine Marriner, Rachel Piercey, Kate Wakeling are among my favourites. For brilliant shape poems, try Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson. Exciting new voices include Sarah Ziman and Attie Lime. Watch out for them! They are something else. If you want to discover a range of wonderful poets try dipping into the online resource, The Dirigible Balloon. My real favourite is Naomi Shehab Nye but I would say that as she awarded me the Caterpillar Prize last year!



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Carole Bromley: Read, read, read. Keep a notebook and jot down ideas and interesting words and phrases and snippets of conversation. Write whenever you feel like it. I am an early bird, others like to burn the midnight oil. When you feel brave, share your poems with a teacher or a group of others who like writing too. Join a poetry workshop group if there is one in your school. If there isn’t, start your own! Listen to poets on YouTube or, better still, go to hear someone read live. Don’t get discouraged, just keep going. Find somewhere to display or perform your work. Enter a children’s competition. You are a poet! Believe in yourself.



Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?


Carole Bromley: I always have some project on the go! I did NaPoWriMo with a lovely group of children’s poets and we shared our poems in a WhatsApp group. I now have thirty brand new children’s poems to send out! I am also working on a sequence of poems for children about my home town of York, UK. People come here from all over the world to discover its rich history and explore its beautiful buildings and the surrounding countryside. I thought a little book of poems for young visitors might be educational and fun. It might even turn out to be an anthology including some of my favourite children’s poets who are, believe me, some of the nicest people in the world!















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