Candy Gourlay’s third novel, Bone Talk, and her first picture book, Is It a Mermaid (illustrated by Francesca Chessa), were published last year to prize listings – including the Costa Book Award – and glowing reviews.
Growing up in the Philippines at a time when most books were imported from the West, Candy Gourlay wondered why all the books she ever loved only featured pink-skinned children who lived in snow-covered worlds that didn’t resemble her steamy, tropical home in Manila. As a result, she took many detours on her way to becoming an author. She worked as a journalist, a cartoonist, a fake American voiceover talent and a web designer – before finally becoming an author of children’s books. It took her years not just to fulfil her dream of becoming an author but to learn that Filipino stories too belong between the covers of books.
Candy’s first middle grade novel, Tall Story – set partly in the Philippines and partly in the United Kingdom – is about siblings who are separated by paperwork and magic. It was nominated for the Carnegie Medal as well as the industry’s top prizes: the Waterstones, the Blue Peter and the Branford Boase. Her second book, Shine – a ghost story – was listed for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. Both novels won the Crystal Kite Prize.
Bone Talk is set in a historical moment in the Philippines when headhunting tribes came face to face with American invading forces for the first time. Her first picture book, Is It a Mermaid, is set in an idyllic white sand island typical of the Philippines, with a heartfelt eco message.
Candy is an ardent member of the international "kid-lit" organisation, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is currently serving on the Children’s Writers’ and Illustrators’ Group of the Society of Authors. She lives in London with her family, where she wages war on the snails in her garden.