Nine words. That’s all I wrote in my diary at 1.30am on 21st January 2007.
Four girls with magic power. East. South. West. North.
The following morning, I realised this was the idea I had been waiting for. Within a matter of minutes, I’d got the title – The Sprite Sisters – and the world, the old, rambling house where I’d grown up in Norfolk. I had my characters, Flame, Marina, Ash and Ariel, with their magic powers of Fire, Water, Earth & Air. If they argued their power would weaken, but if they worked together their magic was strong and they could protect Sprite Towers. The underlying message was that everything has to come back to the balance.
As the eldest of four sisters, I could almost hear the Sprites’ bickering and chatter in my sleep, it came so naturally. At 11 o’clock, I mailed Brenda Gardner, then owner of Piccadilly Press. She liked my idea and asked for more. I managed to think up a paragraph, which Brenda said she’d take to the next sales meeting. In May I received a contract and in August I delivered my first book. Between 2008-2010, Piccadilly Press published the first five Sprite books, which did reasonably, but it was in Germany, published by Fischer Verlag, that they really took off.
Now – eleven years and fourteen Sprite Sisters books later – I am on the film set, watching my story move from page to screen. I find the experience humbling and surreal. Around seventy people are here because of those nine words. Writing is solitary. Filmmaking requires a big crew – around seventy for the Sprites on set (many more in the office and during the postproduction period). Then the strangest bit, as my characters walk towards me, their faces smiling. The Sprite Sisters are almost, but not quite, as I had imagined them.
The journey has not been easy. I started from scratch as a writer in my late forties, having lost house, marriage and health. There have been many ups and downs. My family and friends know how hard I have worked and fought to keep going, even with strong sales in Germany. To sell over half a million books is wonderful, but to get the Sprite Sisters to film is amazing.
When Andreas Gutzeit of Story House approached me for the option rights at the end of 2013, he envisaged a UK/US drama series, but could not get it off the ground. With top producer, Corinna Mehner of blue eyes Fiction, the two turned their attention to a 100-minute feature film and the German market. They commissioned Hortense Ullrich, a well-known screenwriter who added a cinematic eye to the stories. 500 girls were at the casting of Vier zauberhafte Schwestern and some leading German actors are on board. In June 2018, 39 days of shooting began in Germany, Belgium, Austria and South Tyrol. Mehner’s strong relationship with Disney helped to bring them on board as the distributor in Germany.
The film will premier in Munich in January 2020.
About Sheridan Winn
Sheridan Winn lives in Norfolk and was born in the county. As a freelance journalist she has written for a wide range of international publications and is known for her profiles of business leaders.
As an author, she is known for her bestselling Sprite Sister books aimed at readers aged 7-12 years. The series has been particularly successful in Germany, where publisher Fischer Verlag has sold well over half a million Sprite books. She is currently writing the 14th and final Sprite Sister story.
Sheridan is author of Boudica’s Daughters, a Young Adult novel set in Norfolk and told on two timelines – one contemporary, the other Iron Age.
She is represented by United Agents and was judge of the East Anglian Book Awards’ Mal Peet Award in 2015 and 2016.