The Author Hotline
being developed by CW4K, or Creative Writing 4 Kids. They are the company behind a website that enables children to create and publish their own stories online. In its first year it has signed up over 2000 members and has been enthusiastically received by children, parents and teachers. In fact the response has been so encouraging that they are planning a huge expansion of its services. Embedding The Author Hotline into the site is part of that expansion...
For more information on CW4K CLICK HERE
Q: What were you like at school?
I was always one of the keen ones who sat at the front and tried really hard. I wasn't one of the "good people" as I used to think of them, but I wasn't a total spod either. My parents taught me to ask lots of questions and speak up if I didn't understand something. Unfortunately, this did not go down too well with Mr Roddy, our geography teacher. I told him that I wanted to learn all about the weather (or meteorology as he called it), but copying stuff down from the board was boring. I explained that this was the reason everyone messed about in his class, and that I found this very frustrating as I really wanted to learn. I thought he would be grateful for my advice, but he got really cross instead! I was a very helpful child at school. I was good at pointing out when it was lunchtime, and was always keen to help other children less able than myself. The most notable of these was a boy called Darren, who was useless at everything academic. He used to get 2% in class tests and people used to tease him. My best friend and I tried to teach him at lunchtime, but he was more interested in chasing us round shouting "Kissy-kissy!" He was a genius on the piano though. He used to compose his own amazing music as he went along. He was also really good at gardening. Darren taught me something which has influenced my life a lot. He taught me that everyone has their own talents, never to judge people by first appearances, and that the school system is not always very good at helping those who need it most.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
When I was six I wanted to be a tight rope walker, because I loved walking along those tiny walls that some people have in their front gardens. Later, I wanted to be David Attenborough, presenting wildlife documentaries. I also wanted to help people in developing countries, but worried that the problems of poor sanitation, lack of education and starvation would all be sorted by the time I was old enough to do anything to help.
Q: Which three words describe you best?
Impatient, Attention-seeking, Chocoholic
Q: What is your favourite word?
Snuggle... or Lovely
Q: What makes you cringe?
The noise that scratchy pottery makes, The feel of dry dirty potatoes, Basil Fawlty,
Q: What are you afraid of?
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
Last week when we took our dog Roo out for walk in the snow. We were doing silly walks and making funny footprints.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
My violin - nobody else is allowed to touch it.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
I love digging and weeding, especially if I'm cross or feeling over energetic. We have an allotment, where we grow beans, courgettes, beetroot, potatoes, onions and lots of weeds. I wish I could grow carrots but they always get zapped by the pesky carrot flies. I play the piano quite a lot, and go for lots of long walks with Roo, our labrador. Best of all, I like sitting in cafes with a hot chocolate and the paper or a good book!
Q: What strange habits do you have?
I have really vivid dreams. Some of them are like feature films. I sleep talk all the time and sometimes shout at the top of my lungs in my sleep. Once I even punched my husband while I was having a bad dream!
Q: What’s your favourite food?
If I had to choose a meal to eat every day, for the rest of my life, it would be baked potato, cheese, baked beans and coleslaw. I think sharon fruit is the most delicious thing on the planet and I could eat my own body weight in chocolate, given half the chance. It has to be dark and preferably organic.
Q: What do you day dream about?
Stories, words, workshop activities. These things are going round in my head all the time.
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
I once walked across town wearing a swimming hat and goggles for a dare.
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I'd love to be an artist, preferably a sculptor. Failing that, I'd like to be a world famous pop star or a tv presenter, own a safari park, look after orang-utans, or make posh chocolates.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
If I could choose anyone, I'd like to meet my Dad's dad. He was an American soldier based in the UK in the second world war, but my dad never knew him. I don't really know if he is, or was, a good guy or a bad guy, but it would be interesting to find out whether my dad, my brother and myself are at all like him.
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
The ability to just knuckle down and get on with something.
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
My Dad says: You make your own luck. Don't work hard, work SMART Don't wait for opportunities to fall into your lap, get out there and find them. My favourite quote is: If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's yours, If it doesn't,it never was. I don't know who said this, but I remember the exact moment I read it. I was in a poster shop in Leicester Square while I was waiting to go and see Star Wars with my mum and dad. I was ten.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
To be able to breathe under water.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
I have travelled quite a lot, but my favourite place has to be Nepal. I went trekking in the Himalayas for a month and was totally bedazzled by the sheer isolation of the place. There are no roads, so people have to carry EVERYTHING to their homes. Sometimes this means walking for several days! We ate bread, and cheese made from Yak's milk. One amazingly sunny day, I came across some prayer wheels at the top of a mountain. Prayer wheels are metal cylinders with prayers embossed on them. When you spin the cylinder it is supposed to bring you good luck. I walked right up to Annapurna Base Camp and slept on a large wooden bed with lots of other people. The bed was standing on solid ice, and it was so cold, we had to wear all our clothes and woolly hats!
Q: What has life taught you?
Be kind to yourself
Q: How long have you been a writer?
I have kept diaries, travel journals and written poetry since I was about ten, so I guess I have always been a writer at heart. Before I left work to write children's books, I was a web editor, so spent my days writing factual stuff to put up on educational websites. I left work in 2007 to concentrate on my writing.
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
About ten years ago, when my eldest daughter was born, I started spending a lot of time in the local library. I discovered a whole new world of fantastic children's books, but also read some really awful ones. I decided there and then that I wanted to have a go at writing some myself. I was convinced that I could write something just as good, if not better than many of the books in the library.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Well, I'm thinking about stories, and words and lines all the time. I get lots of my ideas while I'm driving, and often wake up at 4 O'Clock in the morning with an idea spinning round in my head. When this happens I have to get up and scribble everything down before I forget it. Most of my actual writing happens at my desk at home, huddled by the heater. If I'm super-organised, I take my web book, which is a very small laptop, and sit in a cafe and write. I have roughed out some of my best stories on the train and I wrote most of a new book called "Catch That Rat!" in the public library in Bologna, which is a city in Italy where they have a massive children's book fair every year. I wrote the rest on the aeroplane on the flight home!
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
The best thing about being an author is that I get paid for doing something I absolutely adore. My dad always says, find out what it is you love doing most, and turn it into a job. Well that's what I'm doing now and I LOVE it!
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
My children are a constant source of hilarity and frustration, both of which inspire my writing a lot. Catch That Rat, which will be out sometime in 2012, is based on a funny thing that really happened in my village last winter.
Q: Which of your own characters do you most identify with?
I love Little Pip. She is quite a lot like me. But she is not published yet, she's still looking for a home. Like me, Little Pip is a very busy person. She likes: 1.reading her brother's skull-man comics under the covers, 2. hanging upside down 3. not brushing her hair 4. spinning 5. looking after her pet snails. She also asks lots of questions and has a naugty best friend called Mervin Marvin.
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
I tell myself not to worry about it. I sometimes feel like I'll never have another good idea again. When this happens, I make myself do something totally different, like digging the allotment, or cleaning the house. That way I still feel like I'm doing something useful and it takes the pressure off. When I'm writing, I need quiet and space for my mind to drift. When I'm really busy with other stuff, it's hard to find the space in my head to think about stories. When this happens I try to tell myself not to worry and that it's just part of life.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved Dick Bruna books when I was very young. My favourite was Snuffy, the story of a little brown dog who finds a lost girl.
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
Farmer Duck, by Martin Waddell. It has the most amazing rhythm without being in verse. Very clever.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
If you really really want to be an author, you'll be one. But you have to really REALLY want it.
Don't Dip Your Chips in Your Drink, Kate!
Rhino? What Rhino?
Hodder Children's Books