Perhaps Candy Gourlay writes about dismantling the walls between people because she has chosen to scale them, push on them, and break them down for herself.
Candy tells a story about leaving Manila, where she spent much of her childhood, to live in England. Her two youngest brothers (she is one of six siblings) were just little guys at the time. When she returned for a visit a year later, one of those "little guys" opened the door and she didn't even recognize him and couldn't believe how much he had grown. She meant that he was so much taller and older. But she also meant, I believe, that she had grown during that year away. She had crossed a continent, had crossed cultures, had leapt over that wall.
Born in the city of Davao, in the Philippines, Candy was a writer from the beginning. According to her website, her first job was on a newsletter called Stork News that her little sister edited. She wrote about her dogs and her brothers. Later she became a journalist, covering such life-changing events as the People Power Revolution in the Philippines and the 40th anniversary of Kim II Sung's rule in North Korea. She also drew a weekly cartoon strip for a women's magazine, was a press photographer, and once worked on a coffee table book about witches - the Filipino local, grassroots kind that weave together faith and magic to offer to their communities.
By the time Candy decided that she wanted to write fiction, she was married and had three small children. So she took care of them while they were young and then went back to writing. First she returned to journalism, writing Motherless Nation, a documentary for BBC Radio about the emigration of Filipino women to other countries, so that they can earn money for their families, and the children they leave behind. Then, in another climbing-the-wall feat, she dove into writing fiction.
She also began a blog Notes from the Slush Pile, and joined The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, through which she won a contest and had a story published in an anthology. She then sold a short story and a book of animal stories. And finally Tall Story was bought and published.
Candy was determined, focused and passionate in her writing journey, and has chosen, again and again, to break down walls, bridge gaps and make connections, and it has paid off!
This article was originally published in March 2011, and has been updated for the
February 2012 paperback release.
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