Five questions for... Sam Copeland

Five questions for... Sam Copeland

Sam Copeland is a literary agent and director at Rogers, Coleridge and White, and a children’s author. His first book, Charlie Changes into a Chicken, has been longlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award and the Branford Boase Book Award. He talks to us about the third book in the series, Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth, below.

What is Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth about?

It’s about a young boy who whenever he is anxious changes into all sorts of different animals. One of which is a mammoth. Possibly…

Do you feel your experience as a literary agent has helped you in your writing career?

Honestly? Not really. It helped me write my pitch letter to agents, and I knew at the time that publishers were looking for funny novels. But the actual writing of the novel was far more informed by life – my children, reading middle grade books, therapy delving into my childhood –than work. And nothing can actually prepare you for the experience of being published.

The first book in the series – Charlie Changes into a Chicken – has just been longlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Were you expecting this level of success?

God, no! I didn’t even expect it to get published, never mind get award nominations! Even though I have been in publishing for 20 years, being published has been a non-stop juggernaut of weirdness, anxiety and excitement. Being nominated for prize is another huge part of the weirdness and excitement. 

Can you share the process of how you work with illustrator Sarah Horne to bring these books together?

Fantastic! She is extremely sensitive and a wonderfully funny artist, so it has been an utter joy to work with. At times it’s almost like she reads my mind. Her depiction of the central characters are uncannily accurate to how I envisaged them – and now I can’t imagine them any other way. Also, I only pay Sarah £2.50 and a bunch of grapes per book and she never complains, so that works perfectly for me.

What can we expect from Charlie… going forwards?

The same as going backwards. God, that’s a terrible joke. Maybe don’t publish that. The answer is I’m not sure! There are three books for now. If there is an appetite for more, I’d love to write them, but one has to be pragmatic. I was sorry to reach the end of this book, so who knows…

Charlies Morphs into a Mammoth will be published by Puffin on 6th February.