Sophie Snell, storyteller

Sophie%201%20B%20A4%20usm%20%282%29Storytelling comes naturally to Sophie Snell. The most unlikely of conversations can eventually turn into a tale delivered with a voice which has you mesmerized.

You find yourself holding on to her every word just aching to know what happens next.

“Have you ever heard of…? Do you know the tale about…? I must just tell you about this…” she says revealing a passion for myths, legends and fairytales.

She has a wicked sense of humour and an amazing memory for facts, which, coupled with her skills at entertaining, meant choosing to become a professional storyteller was the perfect move.

Since taking the plunge to do it full time just five years ago she has received many plaudits and last year was nominated for the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence as an outstanding female storyteller.

She performs three or four times a week in schools, theatres, libraries, clubs day care centres and even grand country houses.

This is all a far cry from her previous life as a high-flying career woman working as an international finance director for Experian.

Sophie, who lives at Quarndon with her husband Rob, and three growing boys, gave up that work and the travelling to become a full time mum.
“I turned to the corporate career as it was hard to make a living from writing, but I did enjoy it. It was hectic but fascinating and I gained a lot of experience.

Giving up after the birth of my first child was something I really wanted to do and I loved being a full-time mum. It wasn’t until they were growing up a bit more that I decided to give the storytelling a go professionally,” she said.

“I first saw storytelling at the Derbyshire Literature Festival. It was a performance by Cat Weatherill.

“I was blown away by the stories and the performance. The audience was hanging on her every word and she was holding the audience with her personality. I knew I was seeing something special and I wanted to learn to do the same.

“I went along to Flying Donkeys which is a storytelling club in Derby and I watched and learned from some of the UK’s headline storytellers.

“Eventually I was able to have a go myself and from there I practised and trained and started going to workshops and other clubs. It was addictive really,” she said.

With a degree in Medieval History it is perhaps inevitable that she would return to those roots to find some of the stories that she now recalls for her performances.

“I grew up surrounded by books, stories and poetry but whilst I was studying it was the personal stories, letters, records and early books which fascinated me. In those, the people really come alive.

“People often ask if I read the stories but that is never the case. I don’t work off scripts, I use traditional tales that’ve been handed down by word of mouth for generations. To make them my own I research, construct and rehearse and then add the finished story to my repertoire.I then choose stories to suit the occasion and the audience. Bringing a story alive with my voice, movement and a sense of fun is really quite a wonderful way to spend your working life and I relish every minute.”

Sophie has also written a lot over the years, from research documents and reports, to short stories and poetry, but she has just completed her first full-length novel for young adults. The Raven Stones is a fantasy and of course it includes folklore, myths and magic.

“What else would you expect from me,” she says with a huge grin.

As befits the time of year Sophie’s next storytelling performances in Derbyshire will be for Hallowe’en.

You can see her at Crich Tramway Museum on October 27 and 28 for Starlight Storywalks through the Woodland Walk (6 and 7pm); or join her for Hallowe’en storywalks in Allestree Park for Quarndon Live and Local on October 30 and 31. There is one session on the 30th from 8pm-9.30pm for adults and children over 12 and then on the 31st there are three sessions, two for very young families from 5pm-6pm and from 6.30-7.30pm and then a session for adults and children over 12 from 8pm-9.30pm.On November 1 she will be at Ilkeston Town Hall, for Hallowe’en tales from 2-5pm.

For details about booking the events and her new novel go to http://www.sophiesnell.co.uk

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