Today I am thrilled to welcome the multi-talented Gemma Birss.
If you meet someone new and they ask what you do, what is your reply?
Ranked in order of penny-pulling prowess, it goes deputy editor of Prediction magazine, yoga teacher, illustrator of children's books and writer of novels. In order of glee levels... I'd put them all together in the same cupcake with a big fat cherry on top. I'm a lucky lass, me. I love what I do.
Where does your inspiration to write come from?
My children's book, Gift, is set in Zimbabwe where I grew up. And I'm currently working on some grown-up fiction that's based in India and Japan, both countries in which I've lived. So I guess it's big ole life that gives me all that juicy inspiration... and what is more inspiring than this bonkers, beautiful, sunny, moony reality, really?
Is it challenging writing in different genres?
I'll let you in on a secret.
Even though Gift got a children's book award, and even though it's crammed with illustrations, and even though it says 'for 9-11 year olds' on the cover, it's not actually a children's book. I'd go so far as to say that even I found it a little bit too terrifying in places. So why did I publish it for children? I've thought long and hard about my motives, and I've since realised that I presented it as a children's book to avoid any harsh judgement that I might get from a discerning adult audience. Confession over, I'm a closet adult fiction writer, parading as a children's author. Maybe one of these days I'll grow up (or not :) ).
Were you folded in half in a yoga class when you decided to become a teacher?
I was a jetlagged airhostess when I took up yoga, and needed something other than Night Nurse (sleeping drug of choice for airhostesses the world over) to ward off insomnia while trotting between timezones. Right from my first yoga class I wanted to teach it. After that first hour of wobbly warrior poses and doddery downward dogs, I was totally sold. Twelve years later and I now teach two weekly classes in North London. But I'm not a trolley dolly anymore.
Is being a teacher all you thought it would be?
I HEART teaching yoga, big time. It's the loveliest feeling in the world when I finish teaching a class and my students, who came in a little bit cranky and a little bit edgy, float out of the class with rosy cheeks and sparkly eyes. I feel really, really lucky and grateful to be part of that.
Please talk us through your typical (whatever that means) day
My days usually start in the same way. I wake up to a snuggle with my lovely man before we have a cup of tea and a Hatha or Kundalini yoga session on the mat. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and it always includes avocado. From this point, any similarities dissipate. As deputy ed of Prediction, I'm writing and editing most days, which is the bee's knees, really. Sometimes I'll go and have a holistic treatment to review, or I'll meet up with Alex, Prediction's editor to chat about stuff. And sometimes I'll get out my paper and pens and do some illos. Other times I'll pull out my crochet wool and weave a granny square or two. And then there's my love of cooking – I make a mean dahl. All these packaged up with a chocolate or two make for my ideal day.
What advice do you have for potential authors?
Sit yourself down at your laptop, typewriter, or napkin and WRITE! And don't stop. Well, stop for the odd halloumi sandwich and cup of Earl Grey, but get straight back on it!
Anything you'd like to share?
We're all lovely. But we only really appreciate that when we're chilling in the armchair in our heart. So my advice is to drop out of your noisy, chattering, judgemental, niggling classroom of a head, and find that cosy seat right in the centre of your chest. There you'll get some peace and quiet, and there you'll realise that yes, we're all lovely.
If you want to get bendy with Gemma drop by yogigems.com
Inclined to art? http://gemko.tumblr.com/
Follow her on twitter at @gemmabirss
News from the Muse
These posts are a mixture of information, interviews and tips for writers and those who are interested in getting published.
I also write about my back and the road to recovery and something might resonate with others in pain and maybe my discoveries will help.
Overall it seems that I prattle.
If you have any questions please get in touch - contact at the bottom of the page.
You are welcome to share any of my posts in full with a credit and link back to me.
Please let me know if you do,