Writer creates a ‘truly great children’s story’
Forget Harry Potter, Narnia and the Northern Lights, Islington’s very own children’s writer is stepping into the spotlight.
Cathryn Constable of Compton Terrace is making waves with her new book The Wolf Princess, a dark fairytale set in the deep snows of Russia.
The book was spotted by renowned publisher Barry Cunningham, who famously recognised JK Rowling’s potential when everyone else had turned her away. But, unlike the Harry Potter author, Cathryn did not have to wait long for her work to be noticed.
Mr Cunningham branded her book the best thing he’d read since Harry Potter, saying: “He said: “Once or twice in a lifetime of publishing it happens. The outside world melts away and you’re holding a book that warms hearts, excites the imagination and captures the essence of what makes a truly great children’s story.”
Cathryn, 49, said: “That’s a lovely thing of him to say, he’s so passionate about children’s literature and it’s been a privilege and a joy to work with him at children’s publishing company Chicken House.
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“I understand that some people might be intimidated by his huge reputation, but in reality he’s a very friendly person.
“You can see he’s very well read and his instinct for literature is remarkable; he can look at a story with x-ray vision and immediately tell if it works.”
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The mother-of-three was inspired to write children’s stories by the effect books had on her daughters. She continued: “It makes me sound a bit pretentious, but my desire to write has sprung from a belief that there should be good children’s literature for girls to enjoy.
“But my book doesn’t just cater for girls; men have told me they secretly love the book too.”
The Wolf Princess tells the story of a school trip that goes wrong, focusing on a group of children who are led to a sinister place.
The main character, Sophie, discovers she has a “bizarre link” to this place and realises her journey is not as accidental as it first seemed.
Cathryn said: “We are so fortunate to have a tradition of great storytelling in this country: Alan Garner and E Nesbit are just brilliant.”
When asked if her story bore any similarity to the fictional world of Narnia, she was happy to draw comparisons.
“Well there’s a lot of snow for one thing, but I think the similarities lie in my depiction of the villain,” she said.
“It would have been very easy to create a black and white villain, almost a comedy evil, but like the White Witch from Narnia my villain seems nice to begin with but becomes more sinister as the story develops.”
The Wolf Princess has been sold for publication in fifteen countries and a film adaptation is already in the pipeline.
“I can’t imagine how a screenwriter would change it but I also think family entertainment is very important,” she said.
As for the future, Cathryn said she hopes to write a completely different book over the next year or two.
“I might return to the Wolf Princess one day but it’s all happened so fast, for now I’m just happy I’ve got this far.”
Available from October 4, The Wolf Princess is �6.99 from publisher Chicken House.