K. M. Peyton on being a writer
K. M. Peyton is the author of Wild Lily, which is released today
I can't ever remember wanting to be a writer. I just was a writer. I wrote my first book when I was eight, but wasn't published until my seventh or eighth book when I was fifteen. I had (and still have) a collection of sweet hand-written letters from the editors of the leading publishing houses rejecting my work but encouraging me to go on writing. I am not sure if the same thing would happen today. After my break-through, when A and C Black published my book called Sabre the Horse from the Sea in 1947, I never looked back and have had a book published every year since then until today, the fourth of February, the publication of Wild Lily by David Fickling Books, my last at the age of 86. David (Fickling) says I have said it was my last book several times before and I suppose I have, but somehow I can't stop. I don't feel myself if I haven't a book on the go. I was published by A and C Black, then Collins, then for many years by Oxford University Press. David Fickling joined OUP after leaving university and since then I have followed him wherever he went: to Transworld, to Scholastic, to Random House and now, at last, to his own brand, David Fickling Books.
I always wanted to be a painter, not a writer, and refused a scholarship to Oxford to go to art school (to the horror of my school). My parents were summoned to be told that my choice was impossible, but my father boldly stood by me, explaining that his uncle was a well-known Scottish artist, James Watterston Herald, so that art must be in my blood. Today my uncle's paintings fetch a lot of money so he was right and how glad I am to have had this wonderful education, just learning to see and trying to make something of it. It is a brilliant education for a writer. I taught art for a living, still publishing a book a year, and it was only when I married a fellow artist and had children that I realised that writing was overtaking painting as a career. I was a writer, I had to admit, I couldn't help it.
I won the Carnegie Medal in 1969 after being on the short list six times, and when I won it I had another in the shortlist the same year. I have been very lucky.
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