An Interview With Award-Winning Children’s Author Glenys Nellist

Glenys Nellist Interview

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Glenys Nellist Interview

An Interview With Award-Winning Children’s Author Glenys Nellist

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With Christmas fast approaching Happy Ali talks to award-winning children’s author and our Guest Contributor Glenys Nellist about writing, inspiration, and why she became a creator of children’s books. Her Christmas books would make wonderful gifts for children aged 4-8 years as they are both educational and utterly delightful.

Glenys Nellist Christmas books
Glenys Nellist Christmas books

Q. How did you start writing?

I actually started writing when I was a little girl. For some unknown reason, even though I’m from a big family and have seven siblings, I was the lucky one who had a little desk in the corner of my dad’s study. Sitting at that desk and writing stories on tiny paper pads was my favorite thing to do. Later on, as a teenager, I remember my mum asking me to read my poems to various dinner guests and extended family members. I pretended that I didn’t want to do it, but secretly, I was proud that she’d asked me. So, writing has always been ‘in’ me, but it wasn’t until much later in life that I became an author.

Q. You live in Michigan but you were born in England. What made you settle away from your roots?

I’m married to a pastor. It was 1999 and we were living in Liverpool, England when we heard about an International Exchange Program, offered to pastors in our denomination. This program offers the opportunity to ‘swap’ homes, pulpits (and even cars!) for six weeks, with another pastor anywhere in the world. This initiative allows pastors and their families to experience life and ministry in a different setting. I’ll never forget poring over the world map with our four young children who declared, adamantly, that they wanted to visit America — so that we could go to Disneyworld! Thus began our adventures across the pond. 

For six weeks, we exchanged homes and churches with a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the boiling hot summer of 1999 and we had the greatest fun of our lives! We swam in warm lakes, explored wonderful cities like New York and Chicago, enjoyed American barbecues, and fell in love with the American people. When we returned home to England, we applied to come back to the USA for a longer period of ministry and we’ve been here ever since. But we still haven’t visited Disneyland!

Q. What is your happiest writing moment?

My happiest moment was being able to show my first book to my dad, Love Letters from God, which is dedicated to him. It was published in 2014. My dad, then in his nineties, was quickly declining in health, and I was so worried that he would never get to see the book or know that I had become an author. But, as you can see from the photograph, he did get to see it, and hold it, and read it. He died the following year. Being able to place that book in my dad’s hands, the one who had instilled in me a deep love for the stories of the Bible, was my happiest writing moment.

books, Christmas
Glenys Nellist and her Dad with Love Letters from God

Q. What tips would you give to aspiring children’s authors?

Here are my top five tips:

  1. Join a local writers’ group such as SCBWI
  2. Read as many titles as you can that correlate with your genre or area of interest
  3. Attend writers’ conferences
  4. Invest both time and money in your writing career
  5. Don’t give up!
Glenys Nellist, books
Glenys and her books

That final tip might be my favourite. I gave up writing my first book when I was halfway through. The manuscript for Love Letters from God sat on a shelf gathering dust for over a year. If I hadn’t picked it up and finished it, I wouldn’t now be the author of over 20 titles.

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