We caught up with former Cornish Story Editor Emily Charlotte Ould, to hear about where her passion for writing, Cornwall and cowboy boots have taken her since working for Cornish Story as a student. From Bath to Texas, and home again.
Could you tell us something about your personal story: your interests and motivations?
I grew up in Cornwall and I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful place where the sea is never very far away and nature seems to be abundant. I always loved reading but it wasn’t until I reached twelve that I developed a love of writing and decided I wanted to become a writer. Still now, I want to write books more than anything. I worked with Cornish Story for three years while studying my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at Falmouth University, before going on to study a masters at Bath Spa. Now, I run my own magazine, Paper Bound, with two talented people, blog for a local independent bookshop and always try to work on any creative projects to do with writing that I can.
What are your personal and family associations with Cornwall and the Clay Country?
My childhood was shaped by walking the clay trails, hearing clay trains rattle loudly across the working freight lines, and forever seeing clay tips in the distance. I come from a long line of clay labourers and my granddad was one of the first to deposit waste sand from the clay boroughs to Crinnis beach at Carlyon Bay. My great granddad was a clay labourer before him and was part of a march to London protesting fair pay for clay workers.
My grandparents on the other side of my family have lived all their lives in clay country with deep affection and, between them, have worked on ECLP sites – slating rooves, repairing buildings and masonry work – as well as working in the laboratories testing clay in Treviscoe. They’ve told me so many stories about working in clay country, it helps me feel even more connected to the area.
Growing up, I noticed that people never seem to associate Cornwall with much of its china clay history; they associate it with the beautiful beaches, the coves and the seaside towns instead – the beautiful parts. People never seem to mention the clay industry, the workers and the ‘mountains’ that dot the landscape. It often made me feel that ‘my’ part of Cornwall wasn’t worth much, or even worth talking about and it remains something I’m passionate about defending. I really think it’s a shame and that it ought to be celebrated more. But, hopefully, that in itself is starting to change.
When (and how) did you first become associated with Cornish Story?
When I was in the first year of my degree at Falmouth University, I saw the role of Sub Editor advertised for Cornish Story. I applied – despite the fact it was a postgraduate role. Perhaps I was a little naïve, or a little too ambitious to apply but I did it anyway. I’m glad I did – Cornish Story didn’t exactly give me the role advertised but they did offer me the role of Editorial Assistant. For me, that was a dream come true. I felt like I was going places.
What do you see as your main achievements as editor?
I was always keen to get stuck into anything that would help me develop my skills and learn more about writing and publishing. Later, I went on to become Sub Editor and then Editor, doing all sorts of proofreading, editing, liaising with clients and writers and handling website content. I handled academic editing and proofreading as well as more journalistic styles of writing. But, really, getting to uncover pieces of Cornish history I never knew about and hear people’s stories was the best thing about it. I learnt so much! It was nice to have been able to work my way up and learn the ropes and work with Cornish Story for as long as I did. It was a fond time in my life and I’ll always be grateful.
What have you been doing in recent years?
I stopped working with Cornish Story to pursue a masters in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I ended up commuting once a week from home, but it was challenging trying to balance everything in my life, from studying to personal issues. I wrote a young adult novel for my masters, something I’d always wanted to do, and I got to meet many incredible writers and authors.
The book I wrote for my MA was set in Texas, so the following year I visited several southern states in the US, gathering as much research as I could and soaking up the atmosphere there. It was an incredible experience – and I really want to go back. I’m a big fan of country music and cowboy boots, so I loved being there. Hopefully one day, that book will be out there on bookshelves one day for people to read.
When I finished my masters, I started working in charity retail (where I happily still am) but I missed sharing my love of reading, so I became a blogger for Lost in Books in Lostwithiel. It’s a beautiful bookshop and they have an online shop that’s just as gorgeous. After a year or so, I realised I still wanted to do more, so I decided to set up PaperBound Magazine with two friends – an online publication dedicated to showcasing creative talent from writers and illustrators, specialising in children’s and young adult fiction. It’s been less than 12 months, but so far we’ve had some really lovely feedback from readers, authors and publishers who read the magazine. I’m excited to see it grow.
I was also recently published in a book of short stories titled: Cornwall: Misfits, Curiosities and Legends. The project is run by a group of Cornish writers and we are currently working on the release of our second anthology. You can pick up a copy of the book across shops and libraries in Cornwall, as well as being able to buy it on Amazon. It was a lot of fun and a brilliant thing to be a part of. The book is filled with all types of Cornish stories, legends and tall tales – spanning love, laughter and heartbreak.
I’m always wanting to do more when it comes to creative projects, but I usually find I’m limited by time. My partner is great for keeping me balanced when I stress too much over not being able to do it all!
Could you tell us about your plans for the future?
It can be tricky as, right now, the future seems so uncertain. It’s definitely a strange time to be living and working in. For now, I will definitely continue to work on PaperBound Magazine – we would like to get some funding behind us. It would be brilliant if the magazine could reach even more people – and if our team could be paid for the hard work we do too. I’ll also keep writing books, blogging, and all the other things in between – they always say you should never give up! So I never plan to.
As for every other aspect of life, I believe family is important to keep you balanced and grounded, yet still encourage you to achieve your goals. I don’t know where I’d be without family or friends. But taking every day as it comes right now seems to be a good way to live.
Thank you so much, Cornish Story, for having me!
You can find out more about PaperBound Magazine and read the latest issue here: https://paperboundmag.com
Emily’s blogs for Lost in Books are available to read at: https://lost-in-books.co.uk/blogs/blog