Interview with April Prendergast // Founder of Prenderland Books

What do you do? How would you describe your working life? 

I am mummy to my lovely daughter Rosie, a Chartered Account and the founder of Prenderland Books.  My working life is busy yet balanced.  I work as a Chartered Account four days a week, spend my day off and weekends with family and friends and in my ‘spare time’ I run the Prenderland Books website.

Did you show any early signs as a child that indicated that you would end up where you are today? 

I have always been hard working and loved school.  I was, and still am, a true geek when it comes to learning – I just love it!  The more I learn, the more I want to know.  I used to read lots as a child and my parents used to find my sister and I surrounded by books in our living room, struggling to decide which to read first I imagine.

I used to enjoy doing well at school and I think that is what kept me motivated to learn and work hard.  I used to hate that feeling when I knew I hadn’t put in 100% effort and felt as though I’d let myself down.  However, I also remember a maths teacher saying to me, “You will be disappointed with this result.”   When I looked at my exam paper I had scored 98%, which I thought was pretty good, but he expected more from me.  I suppose it is having others around you who want you to succeed and do well, that inspire you to work even harder.  (Although, I still think saying you should be disappointed with 98% is probably taking it a step too far!)

My parents have been a huge influence for me both in terms of my academic studies and professional career, as well as helping me realise the kind of person I wanted to be.  They have always been incredibly encouraging and supportive of whatever I decide to do.  In particular when I resigned from my first graduate job after only three weeks in the role.  I don’t normally ‘give up’ on things so easily but in this instance I just knew it wasn’t right for me.  The people who I was working with hated their jobs and I didn’t want to end up like that.  I truly believe that life is far too short to work in a job that you don’t enjoy.

Describe your morning routine

Well, this very much depends upon what type of day it is!  If it is one of the three days that I work from home, I get Rosie up and dressed, take her downstairs for some play time and perhaps an early morning snack (she has proper breakfast at nursery), say goodbye to her when daddy takes her to nursery, have a shower, eat some breakfast and then start work.

If it is the day I go into the office, I get myself ready, drive to the tram station, travel into Manchester, get some breakfast at the office and then start work.

If it is the day of the weekend where I am having the lie in (my husband and I take it in turns), I have a lovely lie in until about 8am, have a nice shower and then head downstairs for breakfast and fun with Rosie.

If it is the other day of the weekend I get Rosie up and dressed, get myself ready and then take her downstairs for breakfast and playtime, whilst daddy enjoys his lie in.

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from and when do they arrive? 

Over the last six months or so, I have definitely noticed that I get most of my inspiration in the shower!  I think it might be because this is a 20 minute slot in the day where there is nothing else going on.  Rosie is being entertained, usually by Daddy, work hasn't yet started and Prenderland Books is happily looking after itself.  My metro journey into Manchester has also provided me with some great 'thinking' time and it was one morning whilst I was on the metro that I came up with the name for Prenderland Books.

I am inspired by lots of different people, friends, family, colleagues, authors, illustrators and celebrities.  However I also get an incredible amount of inspiration from places I visit such as zoos, parks, schools, country villages and town centres.

The internet is also a great source of inspiration.  Pinterest is a recent addition to my life and has particularly helped me with ideas for our new garden.  I've even painted a wooden chair in a shabby-chic style recently and planted lavender in it -  I don't think I would have ever come up with that idea myself.

When motivation wavers, how do you get back on track? 

I take a break from whatever I am doing and distract myself with something else.  I love the outdoors, so often a nice walk to the park with Rosie freshens me up and gives me new ideas.

I also remind myself why I am working on a specific project and what I want to achieve from it.  This usually gives me the prod I need to get back on with it.

I speak to friends and family too and they are great at providing reassurance and helping me to believe in myself.

What is the best thing about your job/lifestyle? 

I love how varied it is.  No two days are ever the same and that works well for me.  I am a big fan of routine, as anyone who knows me will tell you, but in between the routine I like to embrace the unknown and have fun whilst I'm doing it.

If you could do something else for the day- what would you do? 

This is a great question and one I think about quite a lot actually.  I have a few ideas of things I would love to do but if I had to pick one it would be to be a wildlife photographer. 

I find nature an amazing thing and only a couple of months ago I loved standing at my mum and dad's kitchen window watching some baby blue tits leave their nest in the garden.  They were struggling to get from the path up to the lawn, as there was a step to negotiate.  The mummy and daddy blue tits kept coming back to bring them food and we kept very still inside so as not to disturb them.  They gradually realised that if they ruffled their feathers their wings could help them and when they eventually did it, it honestly brought a tear to my eye.  It was such an achievement for them!  I could have watched them all day so I can’t imagine how excited I would be if I could follow elephants, giraffes or bears for the day and photograph their adventures.

How do you overcome any challenges in your working life? 

I am a very determined person so I usually manage to find a way to overcome a challenge, but the way in which I do so depends very much on the specific challenge.  Sometimes all it needs is for me to write a better 'To do' list, other times I need to speak to other people to get their assistance or advice and on other occasions I just have to take a break from the issue and come back to it later with a fresh pair of eyes.  There is usually always a solution, it is just a matter of finding it!

How do you celebrate your successes? 

I usually go out for a lovely meal with friends and family, have some prosecco and perhaps a couple cheeky cocktails and enjoy having a night of feeling proud of what I have achieved.

Do you have any tools/resources or rituals that you couldn’t live without? 

Oh gosh yes!  My laptop, Rosie's Gro clock, Bath-Book-Bed (for Rosie) and my slo-cooker.

Which books from your bookcase would you recommend? 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Emma by Jane Austen, Harry Potter (all of them) by J.K. Rowling and The Room by Emma Donoghue.

What are your daily essentials to make you feel ready? 

Temple Spa face wash, Benefit face powder, mascara and my toothbrush (plus tooth paste).

What advice would you give your teenage self? 

Don’t worry so much - everything will turn out fine.  Just always try your best, have lots of fun along the way, don’t dwell on your failures but learn from them and always be proud of your successes.

Where would you like to be in 5 years time? 

I would love to be a published children's author, be the owner of a successful website (hopefully Prenderland Books) and still have lots of time to spend with my wonderful family and friends.

Big thanks to April...lots more info below:

We have created Prenderland Books to inspire children to get as much enjoyment out of reading as possible.  The website includes lots of ideas for how to have even more fun with books as well as colouring sheets and fun educational activities for everyone to enjoy.  All for FREE!

 

We also promote the idea of holding a Book Swap as they provide the perfect opportunity for children to pass on books they have loved to others and go home with others to enjoy.

 

One of my favourite parts of the site is our Book Ladder Challenge.  This is a fun challenge where children read books, write book reviews, climb rungs of a book ladder and are awarded a well-deserved certificate.

 

We would love people to visit our site and if they like it, tell their friends about Prenderland Books.