Friday, 28 September 2012

Interview #9: Julie Fulton

Julie Fulton has Mersey Sound poet Brian Patten to thank for setting her on the path to becoming a published author.

In 1974 when she was ten he chose a poem she'd written for inclusion in a small anthology of children's poems for the Little Missenden Festival, in Buckinghamshire, where she lived.

Julie Fulton with a protective arm around her first
book, Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy

"It was called I Like... and I got to read it out at a big presentation and meet the famous Mr Patten himself. I have had a love of poetry ever since and still tinker with the odd ode to this day."

These days, Julie is the recently published author of rhyming picture book Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy. Her publishers, Maverick Books, are so pleased with her work they've asked her to create a series of 'Ever So' books, all set in the fictional village of Hamilton Shady. Tabitha Posy Was Ever So Nosy is the next one, due to be published on January 28 next year. Julie hopes she will write one a year.

Although she is these days known to the world as a writer, Julie's background is in music and teaching.

She studied music at university, became a school teacher and eventually became a self-employed music teacher.

She had always loved writing and stories, and took great pleasure in reading to the children in her class when she was a school teacher.

Julie's first book
Once you realise this it's easy to see why she's drawn to rhymes and rhythms. Her influences are timeless rhymesters Edward Lear, Dr Seuss, Ogden Nash, Hilaire Belloc and Spike Milligan.

"I've been told my stories are like Belloc's - they have a subtle, underlying moral. I always loved rhymes and poetry and I've always written rhyming poetry. I really enjoy rhythm."

Of Mrs MacCready and her breakthrough as a published author, she said: "I thought it was just a nonsense poem. I wrote it for a writers' group homework. I don't know where it came from, it all tumbled out in an hour. But someone said it's a picture book."

She decided to send it to publishers and was picked up by the second one on her list - Maverick Books.

...and the second in her 'Ever So' series, which will be available next January
The publisher commissioned Jona Jung, a Polish artist, to do the illustrations. It has proved a remarkable collaboration as Jona does not speak English. "She uses Google Translator when she emails me, which makes for some interesting emails! I don't know whether she translates my stories the same way or not. But her illustrations are wonderful and she adds something extra of her own, too."

The book is aimed at children aged four-plus. It's the tale of Mrs MacCready, of Hamilton Shady, who likes to eat. And eat. And eat. Until, eventually, she... well that would be giving the end away. But it's certainly unexpected.

Julie entertains her young fans
One of the things Julie loves more than anything is going into schools to give readings to children and help them to do their own writing. She has a ready-made audience, too, at her local village primary school where she frequently pops in to 'road-test' works in progress.

"It's really useful to be able to do that," she told me. "I always try to put a long word in. In Mrs MacCready it was 'succulent'. The editor wanted to take it out, but I put my foot down."

And so the word remains in the text...

Mrs MacCready was ever so greedy
she did nothing else but eat.
Fish fingers and chips, apples with pips,
plates full of succulent meat.

Julie has narrated Mrs MacCready for the Nook, an e-book reader for the North American market. "I absolutely loved doing it!"

A page spread from Tabitha Posy

I asked Julie if she wanted to write novels for children and, sure enough, she told me she was currently editing a book for children aged eight and over. It's set during the Second World War and is the tale of an 11-year-old evacuee named Susan. Julie has not been able to place it with a publisher yet and she's even considering self-publishing.

Whatever direction Julie Fulton's writing takes in the future I'm sure it will succeed as she's 'Ever So' talented.

* Many thanks to Julie for talking to Bookengine about her work. Her website is here. Visit the website of her publisher, Maverick Books, here.


  1. Delightful to read this post about Julie! I don't think I've ever seen anyone cite Spike Milligan as an inspiration, and that, for me, was the icing on the cake. Wonderful! May Julie be "ever so" successful!

    1. Thanks, Beth, for visiting Bookengine and commenting.

  2. Terrific post - your books look adorable, Julie!!