Cecily Paterson and Penny Reeve are two local children’s authors who found a way to make the most out of the 2020 lockdown – they wrote a children’s book series together about pets.
It’s call the Pet Sitters series and it’s all about two animal-mad friends and a grumpy talking cat. The pair decided to use the pen name Ella Shine as a light and sparkly name to hide behind.
The co-writing process
Penny said the process of co-writing a book was a new one.
“I’m usually very, very private with my writing and don’t show people any of my drafts so this is completely new and very scary experience, but really fun,” she said.
Cecily said they would get together and plan the story first in detail over morning tea, lunch and dinner, then write a chapter each, editing as they go.
“Editing as we go is really important, because we actually have very different styles of writing,” Penny said.
“So at first, I was way too flowery and Cecily was straight to the point. That was quite fun figuring out how to write as the same person.”
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Cecily agreed: “I think we’ve got a nice voice now”.
Did the COVID lockdown help or hinder the creative process?
“We had just started the planning when all the COVID stuff happened,” Penny said.
“At first we were like ‘How is this going to go forwards?’ But then it sort of gave us a project to focus on when everything else was shutting down.
“For me personally, it gave me something encouraging and fun to work on when things were really tough. And given the length of the chapters, I could write them even when everyone was at home and driving me nuts – it was still possible to write them.”
Cecily said it was “a good light project”.
Listen to children authors Penny Reeve and Cecily Paterson share stories of their first pets, pet disasters and the inspiration behind the Pet Sitter series.