SJ Hopwood – Writer & Creator

Sharon HopwoodQ. When did you first start to write stories?

I have always loved to read and write and when I was young I would drive my Mum crazy by constantly asking her to give me five random words that I would then have to include in a made-up poem or a short story.

I really enjoyed my schooldays and English was one of my favourite subjects.

Q. What made you start writing professionally?

The ideas for stories started to flow when my boy, Connor, was a toddler. It was a fabulous reminder of how much fun it is to be a child and to be able to get up to all sorts of adventures! ?Is Your Daddy a Goblin? is definitely about him as I could never keep him clean for long and ?The Welly That Wouldn?t Come Off? is based on a true incident that happened one winter morning just before school! My first animation idea came about one Halloween. We had a family fancy dress Halloween party where we dressed up as a monster, witch and a skeleton . The first ?Skinny, Wobble & Moo? story, Moo and the Sneezing Feet, was born when I got my feet wet in the sea at Perranporth in Cornwall – and the water was so cold that I thought my feet would actually start to sneeze!

Q. What?s your favourite food?

I?m a qualified nutritionist and I love to eat. I?ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years and I like so many different foods. It?s important to get a good mix of different foods and lots of vegetables and fruits so it?s good thing that I am also quite greedy!

It?s much easier to tell you the foods I really don?t like. I really don?t like milk or butter! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

Q. What has influenced your writing?

Sharon HopwoodI loved the children’s programmes that were popular when I was growing up. I’d try almost anything to stay at home and watch Mary Mungo & Midge, Pipkins, Mr Ben, Captain Pugwash, Crystal Tips and Alistair, and The Muppets. So, those happy memories have definitely influenced my writing.

Also, most of my writing has its roots in real life somehow or other!. For example, ‘Tales of Old Wharf’ was inspired by my boy who adores wildlife and was always asking me questions that I couldn’t answer! I wrote the ‘The Elephant Kid’ after we spent time at an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka and ?My Safari Adventure? after a super family Safari holiday . So, there’s usually a story behind every story!

Q. What other jobs have you had?

Since leaving college I have always worked with children in one way or another. I?ve been a Kindergarten assistant in Germany, a children’s librarian, a fitness and combat instructor.

I am the co-founder of the Hopwood Stay Safe System, a self defence and anti-bullying module, which has been taught in schools, colleges and work places nationally for the last decade.

Q. How do you relax?

Sharon HopwoodI sing, play the fiddle and the bodhran. I?m not terribly good at any of them – but it makes me happy to make lots of noise!

I have always exercised to help me stay relaxed and focused. For the last 11 years I have trained with the British Free Fighting Academy and have recently achieved 3rd Dan Black Belt status.

I love to have a long soak in the bath with a good book; I often take so long that my family call me a mermaid! Oh, and I love to cook. My bookshelves are bursting with vegetarian cook books!

Q. What?s the silliest thing you?ve ever done?

Sharon HopwoodWell – I?ve done plenty of silly things I?m sure. But here?s a couple of my favourites. There was the one time my boy was late for nursery because we had a humane mouse trap in the garden shed which had been sprung! So, we walked all the way to the sheep field at the end of the road ( a long way for a 2 year old!) carefully carrying the mouse in the trap and being very quiet so as not to scare it. When we finally reached the field, we gently put the trap on the grass and opened the door to set the mouse free… only to find… there was no mouse!!!

Then there was another time just after Connor had started school. We had a wonderful vegetable patch in the garden which Connor would check everyday before school. One morning, I was in the house and Connor was picking the caterpillars off the broccoli (his favourite job!) when he yelled excitedly calling for me to come quick. I took the shortest route which happened to be through the conservatory – forgetting that I?d already shut the conservatory door… I ran straight into the glass door giving myself a big fat lip and a black eye! Very, very silly…

Q. Why do you write?Sharon Hopwood

I love to write. I have to write as I get excited when a new idea pops into my head.

When I write something I always have the same goal in mind ? to encourage children to shine brightly and to believe that they can be anything that they want to be in life.

Q. Do you have any advice for budding authors?

I really believe that you?ve got to stick to your guns and go for your dreams – regardless of what that dream might be. No-one else can do it for you and anything worth having in this life is rarely easy to achieve.

So, I would strongly recommend developing a talent for never giving up. So long as you?re doing no-one else any harm – if you want it, get focussed, be tenacious and go grab it!