Children’s book author Becci Murray has a knack for making kids laugh. Her best-selling Granny picture book series that includes Granny Dropped Her Chompers Down the Toilet and Granny Got A Sprout Stuck Up her Sneezer has made its way into the homes of families across the globe. Her newest release, Gerald Wants to Wear Pink, celebrates how wonderful it is to be different. But the journey to publishing her first book wasn’t quick. Murray said it took 15 years before she decided to release her debut chapter book Billy’s Brain Booster Juice through Llama House Children’s Books. After that came a series of six StoryQuest books where kids can choose their adventure. And if you’re not familiar with the phrase “stay out of the ruin,” then you haven’t met Azalea Fern, the main character in Murray’s newest middle-grade book Azalea Fern and the Last Ruin of the Extinct. When Murray isn't writing, you might find her at home in the city of Gloucestershire in England spending time with her teenage daughter, chocolate Labrador, a big-footed cat and her giant snail.
I chatted with Becci to ask eleven questions that will give you an inside look at the author behind the books.
1. How would you describe yourself in five words?
Friendly, caring, creative, quietly quirky.
2. Do you have any advice for writers who write stories with humour?
As a mother, I know children’s stories that appeal to both young readers and adults alike are the ones that get read the most at home. Sharing and enjoying books together is such an important part of family life, so I always try to make my writing fun for parents as well as children.
3. What is one mistake you made early on in your writing/publishing journey that you learned from?
I learnt very quickly that covers are SO important to the success of a book. Of course, we should never judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. My first cover was pretty shocking, but over the last three years I’ve learnt so much about cover design and illustration. I honestly never thought I would be illustrating my own covers, let alone my own picture books, but now I enjoy it almost as much as writing.
4. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
This is an easy one. By far the most rewarding thing about my writing journey so far is being part of the independent author community. Everyone is so supportive of each other and I’ve formed the most amazing friendships with other authors from all over the world. We celebrate each other’s successes and we commiserate with one another when the unavoidable pitfalls happen. Without the encouragement of these wonderful humans, my writing adventure wouldn’t be half as much fun as it currently is.
5. What is the most challenging thing about being a writer?
How long have you got? I could literally write a book about all the challenges I’ve faced over the last three years as an author and the vast majority of them aren’t related to the actual process of writing of a book! When I first started publishing, I had no clue how much more work would be required once I’d completed a manuscript: from editing, formatting, cover-creation, marketing (that’s a BIG one), getting your book into physical stores, designing and maintaining a website… The list goes on! Probably the biggest overall challenge though is competing with traditionally published books without having a team of people to help with everything the publishing process entails and without having the funds to promote a book as much as I’d like.
6. Where is your favorite place to write?
I love writing in my car. It’s like my own little office where no-one will disturb me. My favourite place to park when I’m writing is the supermarket carpark (I kid you not). It hasn’t got the prettiest view, but there are snacks, drinks and toilets aplenty, so what’s not to like?
7. What is your most memorable experience so far as an author?
When I wrote Granny Got a Sprout Stuck Up Her Sneezer, I was really just writing it for fun. I enjoy writing poetry and I’d just finished a meatier middle-grade novel, Azalea Fern and the Last Ruin of the Extinct, so I wanted to do something more light-hearted. It was also the first time I’d illustrated a picture book, so I didn’t expect for it to be particularly successful. But Granny and her sprout climbed the Amazon book charts last Christmas and it quickly became a best-seller in children’s fiction. That feeling of finally being up there with the traditionally published books was incredible and it’s definitely my most memorable experience as an author to date.
8. If you could invite any author to your house for a dinner party, who would it be?
I don’t even have to think about this - it would be Roald Dahl. We’d eat giant peaches and Wonka Bars, then wash it all down with some delumptious Frobscottle!
9. You used to do a lot of script writing. Do you still write scripts?
I’ve done lots of script writing before, but not for a few years now. I started out writing scripts for a children’s theatre company and I have quite a musical background, so I used to write the songs and music for those plays too. I then began entering my scripts into a new writers’ project called BBC Writersroom, where I had some fantastic feedback on my work and ended up doing some ad hoc comedy sketch-writing for a Children’s BBC programme called "Class Dismissed."
10. How is the writing process different for writing books vs scripts?
There’s a lot less descriptive writing in scripts, although the visual aspect of the play or show obviously needs to be put down on paper too, so with scripts I tend to write purely the speech first of all and then fill in the descriptive elements in a second draft. I find the narrative flows better this way.
11. What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my third Granny book and I’m planning to publish it within the next couple of months. I’m hoping all the wonderful grannies out there will enjoy reading it with their grandchildren as much as they enjoyed Granny Got a Sprout Stuck Up Her Sneezer.
For more information about Becci's books, visit https://llamahousebooks.com.
Connect with her on Instagram @becci_murray_author
On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/beccimurray.childrensauthor
Journey to Zentobia
When ten-year-old Maggie and her older brother Peter discover a portal inside a rainbow, they stumble through it and end up in another world. But Zentobia is not what it seems. A sinister plot is brewing, and the amateur detectives are the only ones who can stop it. With danger on their trail and mysteries emerging, can they keep Zentobia safe before time runs out?
Perfect for fans of The Land of Stories series.
All magic is banished in Zentobia, but when an evil leader wants to bring back dark magic, Maggie and Peter risk it all to stop him. They join forces with the villain’s sneaky daughter who possesses a powerful secret. When Maggie’s instincts prompt her to investigate a hidden underground tunnel, she discovers a mysterious book carving that holds the answer to the future of magic. Before long, the siblings unravel more clues about Zentobia, including why it’s connected to their hometown by a rainbow. Can they stop the biggest threat Zentobia has ever faced and make it back to Hailsville, or will dark magic destroy the world forever?
With exciting twists and turns around every corner of this children's book, the journey for Maggie and Peter is just beginning.
Return to Zentobia
The action-packed sequel available now on Amazon!
Ten-year-old Maggie Miller discovers the Book of Magic is the key to defeating a villain and embarks on a quest to stop a sinister plot in this sequel that’s perfect for fans of The Land of Stories series.
After foiling a villain’s attempt to bring back dark magic in the mysterious world of Zentobia, Maggie and Peter learn a new threat exists. When the villain’s daughter sends Maggie a plea for help to locate the Book of Magic and save her mom, the siblings travel through the rainbow portal to rescue their friends in this action-packed sequel to Journey to Zentobia.
Securing the Book of Magic is no easy task, even for a seasoned amateur detective like Maggie. The book contains a powerful spell that will prevent dark magic from destroying Zentobia and spreading to Maggie and Peter’s home, but it’s buried deep in a maze of enchanted tunnels.
During their quest, dangerous beasts hunt them, vines transform to monstrous creatures, and rising flood water blocks their path. A wrong turn dumps the group into a secret world that’s evaporating by the minute. Casting a spell with an ingredient that’s hidden in an enchanted boneyard offers their only hope to return to Zentobia.
And when the villain’s daughter discovers she is the heir to the Book of Magic, will she deliver the spell to defeat her father? Or will someone unleash a bigger scheme with Maggie and Peter’s hometown as the target?
The Jessa Becker Files on Kindle Vella
Read the first three episodes for free!
New episodes each week.
When mysterious hit-and-runs rattle neighboring towns, investigative reporter Jessa Becker fights for a front-page story. After the bodies vanish, Homicide Detective Chase Donovan recruits Jessa to help solve the case and restore his disastrous love life. But danger emerges when they infiltrate the secret auction of a devious scientist who claims to raise the dead. Worse yet, Jessa is exposed as a target. With the biggest story of her career on the line, will she land it, or die trying?
Journey to Zentobia Five Star Reviews!
"What an enchanting, magical adventure! I had so much fun!
I absolutely loved this. I loved the sibling relationship b/n Maggie & Peter, & it made me miss my own brother. Lol I also loved the idea of the portal being in the end of a rainbow! So creative. The world building was amazing, & I felt like I was flying around w/them in Zentobia in my own flying shoes! Very atmospheric! I LOVE Zentobia-the rainbow, the waterfalls, the shoes, the talking animals, & so much more all sound so amazing! The story flowed so nicely, & there was always something happening, & high stakes as well-which make for a fast-paced read. Themes of friendship, family, never giving up, & doing what’s right. Highly recommend! Such a fun, exciting read. That ending has me needing a book 2 now! Loved it & want more. Can’t wait to see what happens-I’m assuming there will be a book 2🤞🏻Absolutely beautiful cover by Kim Dingwall as well!💜"
- Reviewed by Belle's Middle Grade
"Journey to Zentobia by Stacy D'Alessandro is an exciting, colorful sci-fi fantasy adventure that children will fall in love with. This author sifts together all the elements kids love, and some adults will find this engaging and entertaining as well. The writing is full of energy and emotion, with unexpected plot points and encounters. The pacing is just right, and young readers will instantly be locked into the story, thanks to the author's imagination and good instincts for what kids look for in a sci-fi fantasy adventure. For a pulse-pounding read, young audiences will love Journey to Zentobia by Stacy D'Alessandro.
It is a must-read."
- Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite
"This is such a brilliant middle grade read! I dove straight into it, after reading the blurb and think it is a brilliant story for young readers. It has a great level of detail, with fun and exciting characters. The story flowed so well and stayed exciting and fun throughout. I read portions of it to my daughter, and she loved it, thinking it was loads of fun. It is definitely one that I want her to read, as her reading level rises. Overall a great read and definitely one I recommend!"
-Natural Bri's Reviews
"Aimed at middle readers, the book has plenty of action and a lively style. Young readers will find this a reader-friendly selection, with the occasional vocabulary-building challenge to keep them on their toes."
- The BookLIfe Prize
"I bought this for my 10 year old son as he loves fantasy and adventure stories and I thought he'd like to read this. This book has got him completely absorbed it's amazing. He's not a particularly quick reader, gets bored very easily and drops things very quickly but NOT with this book! It's been days now and he is completely absorbed it so great to see he is getting so much enjoyment out of it. I've got my daughter asking if she can read it next... absolutely!! All I can say to you is, do buy it they'll love!" - Amazon review
"If your child loves fantasy fiction this is a great book to choose. My 9 year old loves the colorful characters and storyline. She's a big fan of The Land of Stories series (Chris Colfer) so Journey to Zentobia was a great find to compliment her taste."
- Amazon review
"My daughter really enjoyed reading Journey to Zentobia so much, and she didn't want to stop reading it!!! It was such a fun, intriguing, and captivating story with so much excitement and adventure! While reading this magical fantasy book, you feel like you are joining the main characters as they embark on such an enthralling and enchanting journey! Author Stacy D'Alessandro incorporates so much creativity, vivid imagination, and thrilling adventure into this lively and animated story. It is a wonderful and fantastic book for both kids and adults, and we really hope that there will be a sequel in the future!"
- Amazon review
Journey to Zentobia Book Trailer
Return to Zentobia Book Trailer
Stacy is a freelance writer who specializes in writing feature and business stories, press releases, author bios, newsletter and web site copy. To chat about a project you need help with or ask about pricing information, contact her direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Routine trips to Disneyland with her daughter played a role in Stacy's passion for storytelling.
Her daughter inspired the idea for Journey to Zentobia on a road trip home from one of their visits to the happiest place on Earth. They would pass a piece of paper back and forth in the car and each write part of a story. Her daughter's idea for a brother and sister to transport back in time through a rainbow portal stuck with Stacy for almost two years before she sat in front of the computer and began to write Journey to Zentobia.
Though she changed her daughter's original idea of the main characters going back in time to ending up in another world, the credit still goes to her innovative, young mind.
When she wasn’t working on this children's book, she wrote freelance stories for
newspapers and magazines. Prior to that, she worked in the public relations
industry in Las Vegas for more than 25 years.
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