Exciting bidding war over Harrogate author

A Harrogate writer who is profoundly dyslexic will see her stunningly illustrated children's book launched by a top publishing house with an event at Waterstones this weekend.

Tuesday, 10th April 2018, 4:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th April 2018, 4:31 pm
Harrogate poet, artist and illustrator Sue Hardy-Dawson with her new book co-created by Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee. (1804101AM2)

Poet, artist and illustrator Sue Hardy-Dawson worked with fellow writers Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee to produce all the animal-themed 'shape' poems and illustrations for Apes to Zebras.So impressive were their efforts, there was a bidding war for the new book with its beautiful hummingbirds, flying penguins and more, which was won eventually by Bloomsbury.Sue, who has has three adult children and lives with her husband in Bilton, said: "A couple of years ago, myself and fellow poet and friends Liz and Roger thought it might be a nice idea to do a whole book of animal shape poem poetry. "So we put together a proposal and sent it off. What happened next surprized us all."More than one publisher loved the idea but Hanna at Bloomsbury was really very keen, indeed. "First she said she wanted to do it in large format. Then she said she could get us colour and wanted to do it in hardback. "We were so excited about this. I know from experience it’s incredibly rare to have more than on publisher actually fighting for a book."For anyone wondering what a 'shape poem' is, it's a type of poetry which describes an object and is shaped the same as the object the poem is describing.Despite her amazing achievements in recent years, fiftysomething Sue's is a story of persistence rather than overnight success.A member of Harrogate Writers Circle, Sue wrote several thousand poems over 15 years before seeing her first poem published in an anthology in 2002. The scale of her incredible progress can be judged by the reading and writing problems she has battled since she was at school in an era when dyslexia was rarely recognised as a condition.Sue said: "It took around six months to produce the poems and work on them to final and edited. "It fell to Liz and Roger to check the spelling as I can’t and changing a shape poem given that it has multiple textboxes overlaying one another is a difficult thing to do."Sue, a part-time teaching assistant who currently works as a TA SEN two days at Willow Tree Primary School in Harrogate, srill takes a special interest in encouraging reluctant readers and writers who may be struggling with their own conditions.This Saturday's family-friendly launch event at Waterstones shop on James Street at 1pm, will see Sue launching Apes to Zebras in Waterstones Harrogate with some lovely postcards and animal shape poem workshops.It is a free event and all are welcome.Sue said: "Each of us 20-plus poems in the book, whittled down from many more that we had written, in my case 75."Apes to Zebras has been a labour of love and so far the reviews have been wonderful. "Shape poems have an endless fascination for both children and adults, even children, who like myself struggle with reading and writing will often enjoy these even when they might be reluctant to read otherwise and be curious about them."Sue has an Open First Class Honours Degree mostly in Creative Writing, Literature and has provided workshops for the Prince of Wales Foundation for Children and the Arts. Her first solo collection, of illustrated poems, Where Zebras Go (Otter-Barry Books) was long listed for the North Somerset Teachers’ 2017 Book Award. Her second solo collection If I Were Other than Myself (Troika) is due out next year.

Coming up - Harrogate children's book event at Waterstones.
Coming up - Harrogate children's book event at Waterstones.