Holly Sterling: 'I know many karate grannies'

Published on: 02 August 2016

Author, illustrator and karate instructor/competitor - yes, you read that correctly - Holly Sterling talks about her new book, martial art grannies and sport in children's books.

Holly Sterling

We notice that on one of the pages in your new book, 15 Things Not To Do With A Granny, you have a granny doing karate! Do you think there's enough sport in children's books? Would you like to see more?

Yes! For a while everyone has been asking 'when will we see karate in one of your books?' Finally it's here! I know many karate grannies (one being my mother-in-law-to-be), and I know they'll be excited to see my illustrated karate granny in 15 Things Not to do with a Granny. Hopefully it will inspire more grannies to take up karate too!

I do think there could be more sport representation in children's books. Physical activity comes in many forms and I think that it's important to show that it can be for everyone. I also think that it's important to show that there are all kinds of benefits from doing a sport and top of the list is the fact that it's fun and makes you feel fantastic! It's not all about competition!

How did you start doing karate?

I went to primary school in London, and my parents wanted me to take up a martial art, so that I had the confidence to look after myself. At the time my hobbies included swimming and dancing - I was definitely not interested in taking up karate! One of my school friend's mums did karate at a local club and I agreed to go along and watch a lesson. I was immediately hooked and was desperate to take my first lesson!

15 Things Not To Do With A Granny

How do you balance your karate life and your children's book work?

This can often be quite difficult. I train in karate, I teach karate and I compete for England in karate... so for me, karate is much more than a hobby.

I have to be very disciplined with my schedule. At certain times of the day, I have to go out and train or teach. This can be a good thing as it's healthy to 'step away' from illustration work and when I return to illustrating, I can see things in a fresh light. On the other hand, it can be difficult to stop illustrating when it's flowing well.

More often than not, my illustration deadlines conflict with big National and International Championships - that's just the way the calendar works. I have to be disciplined and try to get ahead of schedule at the beginning of an illustration project, if I can.

Can we expect a sporty picture book from you in the future?

Actually yes - I think so! I'm working on an idea at the moment that involves a bit of a sporty theme. It really is early days, but promoting sport is something that I'm very keen to do!

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