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?
Extremely uncool. Later I tried to be more cool by being less studious, which was a BIG mistake.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
A writer. I only ever wanted to be a writer, and spent hours in my room filling notebooks with stories about spies, horses and my latest crush (whoever that was).
Q: Which three words describe you best?
Lazy. Sceptical. Mercurial.
Q: What makes you cringe?
Old school photos, and waking up in the middle of the night to realise I've said something really stupid.
Q: What are you afraid of?
Spiders. Especially big ones. And flying. Spiders on a plane would be very bad.
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
Probably this afternoon. Just a few hours ago, anyway.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
I once lost a jewellery box that contained all my most treasured possessions - a silver matchbox that belonged to my grandfather, who had been at Gallipoli; a brooch that used to belong to the film star Claudette Colbert, that my husband had bought for me; a silver pendant I'd made myself. After that I resolved not to get so attached to things, however precious, because they're too easy to lose. But if I had to choose something it would be my wedding ring, which was my grandmother's before it was mine.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
I walk. A lot! It's great for working out plots in peace. I used to love fencing, and though I haven't done it for a few years I'd really like to get back to it. I love horseriding too, though I don't do it as often as I'd like. And of course I've always been a fanatical reader.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
I play with my hair, ALL the time. It drives my family mad.
Q: What’s your favourite food?
Spaghetti with oil and garlic and lots of chilli. Actually I love just about anything with chilli. I go through gallons of Tabasco.
Q: What do you day dream about?
My characters! One in particular. I wrote four books about him and have never been able to shake him off entirely...
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
Probably skinny-dipping in the North Sea off Aberdeen, in the middle of the night. I used to do that quite often - when I was a lot younger, I might add. It was freezing cold and possibly dangerous. Don't try this at home.
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I can't imagine doing a grown-up job. I used to have completely pointless meetings with the school careers adviser, who said I couldn't be just a writer, and should go into personnel management. I'd have hated it and I'd have been terrible at it. I didn't think of it at the time (and neither did the careers adviser) but I'd have liked to try forestry.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
Younger. It's high time I grew up.
Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Alexander the Great. Or Billy Crudup.
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
Nonconformity. Or cussedness, if you like.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
Somewhere that doesn't exist as such any more: the Transkei. It was a bantustan in apartheid South Africa, supposedly 'independent', and was a place of great poverty and great beauty. I was sent there in 1989 as part of a church delegation, was completely out of my depth, and managed to have all my money stolen. But it was the most incredible experience and I learned a lot. Not enough, but a lot.
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
This too will pass.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
I'd like to be a better mother. But my kids are very tolerant.
Q: What has life taught you?
Not to hang about. It goes faster than you think. And to be as kind as you can as often as you can, but not to worry about what people think. Everyone's much more worried about their own lives and problems, so relax.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
Professionally, since about 1990, when I sold my first short story. But I've been writing since I could hold a pen.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Anywhere. Sometimes in the kitchen (it's warmer) and sometimes in the sitting room (so I can spend some time with my family, even if half my head's in another world). I have a lovely little study that I never use, which is just a dumping ground for papers and documents. But I WILL get round to using it... And sometimes I work in the leisure centre cafe or Starbucks or wherever, while I'm waiting for my kids to have their skating or swimming lessons. I get a lot more done when I don't have internet access.
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
The best thing is living in my own worlds and being anyone I want to be. Characters become so real they're like friends. And I know how dweeby that sounds but it's true. The worst things... it's incredibly difficult and frustrating to market yourself and your books. Until you can do that effectively, the money's pretty rubbish! But I still wouldn't do anything else.
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
I sit down and make myself write, even if it's rubbish. I beat my head till I think of something, anything...
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
The Narnia books and the Lord of the Rings were regular favourites. I also loved the Famous Five, the Silver Brumby books, anything with horses...
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. And I wish I'd already written the books that are floating around in a muddled stew in my head.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Be prepared to be incredibly persistent. It's hard, hard work to get published. Keep writing, constantly, and start something new when you finish each book. Don't be dissuaded by rejections, but if you're good or lucky enough to get advice or suggestions too, take note of them!
Crossing The Line
Darke Academy: Secret Lives (Gabriella Poole)
Darke Academy: Blood Ties (Gabriella Poole)
Darke Academy: Divided Souls (Gabriella Poole)
Life of the Party