My Life - Rachel Sheridan Morrisroe

The beautiful and talented children’s author and abstract artist Rachel Sheridan Morrisroe talk art, favourite food, and  Roald Dahl.

Tell us about you.

Thank you so much for having me on this wonderful blog.  I’m a children’s author and artist living in Cheshire with my two little boys, ages four and five and my husband Alex.  When I’m not wiping noses, helping to construct homework projects or fishing out floating poos from the bathwater, I write utterly bonkers picture books and early middle-grade fiction.  My debut picture book is due to be published with Puffin in the autumn.  I can’t share too much until it has been formally announced this summer but I’m working with an amazing illustrator and I couldn’t be more excited for publication day.

In terms of my art, I paint in abstract and sell my work through galleries in the UK and the US.  I create works of all sizes but mostly I like to work on a large scale to create impact. I sell my art through my Instagram page (@rachelsheridanmorrisroe) and on my website (www.rachelsheridanart.co.uk)

What is happening in your life at this minute? 

I’m currently working on a handful of texts which are at various stages of the publication process.  Some have been bought by a publisher, some are works in progress and are yet to be submitted by my agent. 

A few weeks ago, Puffin announced their plans for their 80th anniversary, involving the publication of ‘The Puffin Book of Big Dreams,’ a collection of stories to spark the imagination.  This celebratory book embodies Puffin’s past, present, and future and contains new stories and classic content from beloved authors and illustrators like Malorie Blackman, Roald Dahl, and Eric Carle.  I’m so thrilled to share that I’ll be contributing a story that I’ve worked on with a superstar illustrator, Steven Lenton. It’s called The Great Imaginarium and it’s about a scientist who creates a wonderous machine to make children’s dreams come true.

My art has just been signed by a gallery in Laguna Beach and I’m currently in discussions with a New York gallery about potential representation.  I’m also working on a few commissions at the moment, which I’m really enjoying.

Favourite drink?  

Hmmm.  Tough choice.  Tea, I think.  Preferably Yorkshire (my mum is from Leeds so it’s in my bones).  I drink it by the gallon.  I’m also partial to a glass of white wine in the sun on a warm evening.

Favourite food?  

Tapas.  My favourite place to eat is a little place called Andy’s Beach Restaurant in Calahonda in Spain.  We go there every year for our holiday to stay with family.  It smells of sunshine and freshly cooked sardines and you eat your meal with your toes in the sand.  It’s heaven.  There’s nothing quite like Andy’s paella and an ice-cold glass of Cruzcampo.

What is your most treasured possession?  

I’m very sentimental about some of my items of jewellery.  My engagement ring and the engagement ring my dad gave to my mum.  My mum also bought me some gold unicorn earrings when my first book sold and they hold a special place in my heart too.

What is your best quote?

‘If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead.  Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.  Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.’ My Uncle Oswald, Roald Dahl

What are you most proud of?  

My two actual babies and my book babies.

How has motherhood changed you?

Apart from the frankly unreasonable number of grey hairs and wrinkles I’ve accumulated in six years, it has taught me to love more desperately and urgently than I ever thought was possible.  My mum always called herself a ‘Tiger Mother’ which I never really understood as a child.  I do now. 

What has motherhood taught you?

How to use caffeine and cake to keep yourself functioning when you’ve been up for 48 hours straight. Also, to see the joy in the small things.

What keeps you up at night? 

The everyday worries that come with being a custodian of two small people cause me serious insomnia.  Also planning.  I’m an extremely committed planner.  In a former life, I worked in public affairs and I think the communications person in me likes to strategise everything; from the development of stories to art sales, to what to put in lunch boxes! Apparently, in my brain, it is essential that this happens at 4 am every morning without fail.

What is your greatest fear?  

Imposter syndrome is a relentless little nasty that I have to work really hard to overcome.  I think many of us battle with it.  Feelings of being ‘not good enough’ or ‘not worthy’ are what I fear the most.  It’s why I love my Kemi Telford collection because the clothes really do help me with this.  They give me confidence and presence and help me to take up space in work scenarios.

Describe yourself in three words.   

Loving, Tenacious and Daft

Can women have it all?  

Yes. But it comes with conditions and tough choices. Workplace flexibility, the gender pay gap and social perceptions of the family structure still have a disproportionate impact on women and with that comes a great juggling act.  

Women are resilient and resourceful and amazing in ways that we don’t always give ourselves credit for.  We are our own toughest critics. I often say to my husband that sometimes it feels like I’m failing on all fronts because I’m spread so thinly, not giving adequate time to my art or my writing or being a good mother or partner.  When I get together with my friends this is definitely a worry we all share.  In my group of close friends, I have a GP, a Vet, a Dietician, an Interior Designer and a Head of HR for an international brand; and we all have this internal battle to be great at our jobs, great mothers, great partners, great friends.

All I know is that the women I see around me - personal friends and Instagram friends - single mums, stay at home mums and career women alike are total powerhouses.  We are definitely doing something right.

Destiny or free will? 

A mixture.  I’m a big believer in fate and karma and I am very careful to acknowledge and do right by the luck and blessings that have been afforded to me.  Equally, I don’t think good things land on your lap.  I think if you want something in life you need to get that bit between your teeth and go for it absolutely relentlessly.

Who inspires you? 

Sir David Attenborough – an all-round good egg, a national treasure, and champion in the battle against plastics. He’s a phenomenon.  

What advice would you give your 14-year-old self? 

It’s fine to be a hugely passionate writer and also to be terrible at spelling and grammar.  Don’t let the literary snobs get you down.  You CAN still be an author.  That’s what computers and wonderful editors are for. 

What book have you read that positively shaped you?  

When I was seven, I read my first Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake book.  It was The BFG.  I was captivated by the magic and heart of the characters they created.  When an author and illustrator connect so completely it creates the rarest and most wonderful alchemy and their books absolutely spoke to me, as they have to millions of children across the generations.  I laughed till I cried at the horrible tricks Mr. and Mrs. Twit played on each other. I whooped when Matilda got her comeuppance on her vile father and horrid headteacher. Dahl and Blake’s wonderfully anarchic characters lit a fire in my heart for the potency of language and I think that is when I knew I wanted to write.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?  

I don’t like to be too political on Instagram but I’d make the world borderless and kinder.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?  

Putting it on here to hold myself to account!  A widely and internationally published children’s author. (Ideally best-selling if Santa / the book-buying fairies are listening!)

How do you do to relax?  

I love to box and go to the gym and I’d never say no to a long walk to the pub on a Sunday afternoon.

Connect with Rachel on Instagram @rachelsheridanmorrisroe and her website is www.rachelsheridanart.co.uk  

February 15, 2020 — Yvonne Telford