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 a bit of a geek (or so my children say when I tell them what I was like). I liked most subjects, but I loathed games and art because I was rubbish at them. You've never quite understood the word 'unco-ordinated' unless you've seen me try to hit a moving ball...
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
I always wanted to be a writer, but I didn't think ordinary people could do that. Turns out I was wrong, luckily. I also quite fancied being a witch, but I was right about ordinary people not being able to do that one.
Q: What is your favourite word?
Ooh... I like crepuscular and epididymides. Comes of being a biologist, I suppose.
Q: What are you afraid of?
Something nasty happening to someone I love. Making a fool of myself. Never being able to write another word.
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
Watching my cat chase his own tail this morning. He still doesn't realise it's attached.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
A 400 year old Venetian coin that I found while idly running my fingers through the sand on a beach in Crete. I love to imagine the stories of all the people who held it before me.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
I don't seem to have much hobby time, but reading, obviously, and gardening.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
As if I'd tell you!
Q: What’s your favourite food?
Depends what sort of mood I'm in. Melon, strawberries, hot buttered toast... Wine, if that counts as a food (and I think it should).
Q: What do you day dream about?
Book plots. Witty things I wish I'd said.
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
Eaten a squirrel. It was delicious.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
Much, much younger. Doesn't everyone??
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
The ability to apologise gracefully.
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Have a dream and go for it, but have a safety net too.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
I'd like to be braver.
Q: What has life taught you?
Things that happen to other people don't just happen to other people.
Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Only one! Aaargh. All right then, it would have to be King Arthur.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
Since I was about ten, in my head at least. I've been a published writer for seven years now.
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
About five minutes after I learned to read.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Sitting on the sofa in my sitting room most of the time, although I have a lovely desk in another room. I plug myself into my ipod and I can then ignore anything else that's going on around me: TV, homework, arguments...
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
You can't beat the sight of your own name on a real book in a real bookshop, but doing school visits comes a close second. I learn so much, and I'm always made to feel so welcome. The worst thing is having to get my photo taken.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
You have to be ready for ideas all the time: they can leap out from anywhere. Some of my best ones have come from listening in to other people's conversations. In fact, Keepers' Daughter is dedicated to 'everyone who travels by bus in Edinburgh' because I got the big ideas for the plot from eavesdropping on the bus.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
1)Don't keep talking about it, just get on and start writing. And don't say you haven't got enough time. You have, if you really want to write. 2)Read and read and read. And then read some more. 3)Be patient. You are unlikely to find success overnight. Or in a year. 4)Be persistant. Don't be put off by rejections. Keep going. 5)Enjoy your writing! If you don't, is it likely anyone else will?
Q: Which of your own characters do you most identify with?
A real person, rather than a fictional character: Professor William Buckland, who features in 'Mad Scientists'. He tried to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
I couldn't just choose one, so here's a selection: Elidor and The Owl Service by Alan Garner, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
Cold Comfort Farm
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
I write my first drafts by hand, and always try not to finish a writing session at the end of a chapter - sometimes I even finish in the middle of a sentence. That way it doesn't feel as if I'm really starting over when I pick up the pen again. If I do get stuck, I copy out the last couple of pages that I wrote, and that usually builds up enough momentum for me to keep going past the sticky bit.
The Keepers' Daughter
The Chaos Clock
The Chaos Quest