It’s national book lovers day and as we are all book worms at Podengo Market Research, we thought what better way to celebrate than to speak to Children’s Author Nikki Young. Here she speaks to us about finding her passion as a YA fiction author and the birth of her creative writing workshops.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today Nikki. For those reading this, who don’t know what you do, can you tell us about your business? And when your Eureka moment was?
I had always wanted to be an author but I didn’t know what I wanted to write. That was until I had children. My eldest daughter was so averse to reading. It was a real struggle and I couldn’t understand it, having been such an avid reader myself. There were tears and tantrums when it came to the reading scheme books that her school gave her, so these books would just sit in her book bag unread.
Desperate to rectify the situation, I rescued my old books from my mum’s loft on a visit up to see her, and I began to read them to my daughter. These were the stories that had inspired me to be a reader – The Secret Garden, Heidi, Ramona and Beezus, Little Women, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables and lots of Famous Five adventures. Once my daughter began to see that stories could be amazing, it changed something in her.
Before long, she was asking to continue reading after we’d finished reading together and incredibly, she became a bookworm too who is currently studying English Literature at A-Level.
Congratulations that must feel good to know that you’ve had such a positive impact on your daughters perspective on reading. And so what has your journey been like since then?
It was through this experience with my daughter that I finally realised what I wanted to write. If books for middle-grade readers were the ones that inspired me, and with this being such a crucial time in a young reader’s life, that’s where I wanted to be as an author.
It wasn’t until 2017 that my first book was published and it was then that I began doing creative writing workshops for kids. At the time, my middle daughter was just coming to the end of Year 5, which down our way, is a busy year academically as much of it is centred around preparing for the 11+ and other secondary school entrance examinations.
This tends to come at the expense of creativity, so I thought it would be good to offer some creative writing workshops to make up for that. They were popular enough for me to do more and as word got around, I progressed into offering weekly groups.
I currently have five different groups running during term time, with holiday workshops varying from comprehension, vocabulary and SPAG, to creative writing and even a story writing course that helps young writers become published authors. On top of all that, I do 1:1 English and writing lessons via Zoom.
This part of my business picked up when we went into lockdown for the first time. Before then, I’d done some 1:1s on request, but I didn’t advertise it and I was always keen to stress I am not a teacher. People know that, and they tell me that’s not why they approach me for help. It’s the fact I am an author that attracts them. It’s inspiring for the children to work with an author, and most have read my books too and are keen to work with me.
When we went into lockdown in March 2020, my whole business went online, as did most people’s. After trialling the options, I settled on Zoom and it has worked brilliantly for me. I added virtual 1:1 lessons to my website and very quickly, began receiving enquiries. During that first lockdown, I was flat out busy; not all schools were online at the time and people were finding homeschooling so difficult to manage alongside their jobs. I guess I was just there to fill that gap.
I haven’t gone back to face-to-face and I don’t think I will. that’s because I work with children all over the country and even the world. As a business owner, it would be crazy to close off those options. Because of the pandemic, I now focus all of my time on the Storymakers Writing Club and my books, whereas before, I was balancing this with writing for other businesses.
Some of us at Podengo can stay up until the wee hours reading or working away. Others find themselves more productive in the morning. Would you describe yourself as a night owl or an early bird?
I’m definitely an early bird, always have been. My brain has usually turned to mush by the evening, but I have no problem getting up early to write. I’ve had regular spells of 6 a.m. rising to write for an hour before the kids get up and I find I’m so productive at this time when there are no other distractions.
What would your advice be to any aspiring entrepreneurs?
As a writer, I’ve had to diversify in order to make a living. It would have been lovely to say that I sat in my garden office, sipping coffee, whiling away the days and nurturing my ideas, but no, it doesn’t work like that if you want to make a living out of it. I had to write for other people and snatch time at after-school clubs or even sat in the car waiting for school pickup so that I could one day call myself an author.
But being able to diversify in such a way has meant that the foundations for my business are pretty well-formed. It has taken a long time and it has been a slow journey, but I believe I am in a better position for that. So, if I could offer any advice for an aspiring entrepreneur, I would say don’t expect everything straight away. Expect to work hard at it for a long time, but embrace that because the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.
What book/s are you reading right now?
I read a lot of YA and have recently enjoyed Yankee Girl and The Gilded Ones. I’m also reading the Throne of Glass series and A Discovery of Witches, as well as Everything’s Perfect. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of those people who has numerous books on the go at the same time. Anyone else?
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today Nikki, it’s been inspiring to hear your story and learn about your passion for writing. Would you like to read one of Nikki Young’s books? Click here to view here publications.