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 liked primary school until I got to Y5/6. My favourite subjects were Art, PE and story writing. My least favourites were Maths and Country Dancing, where you had to hold hands with GIRLS! (Though I don't mind doing that sort of thing now.) But when I reached Y5/6 I had an awful teacher. She was the last remaining female tyrannosaurus rex and terrified me! However, the grammar school I went to was even worse. It seemed to be full of bullies and it was generally a BAD TIME until I reached the sixth form. After that I went to university. I was not a good student but I met some good friends there that I still have forty years later.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
Grown up! But seriously, when I was 5 I wanted be a farmer. My dad told me that farmers have to get up REALLY early to look after their animals so I soon changed my mind on that one. By the time I was 11 I wanted to be a racing car driver but I didn't have a car and I couldn't drive either. By this time I was also already thinking about being a writer, and that's what I stuck with.
Q: Which three words describe you best?
Hidden, vague, sleepy.
Q: What is your favourite word?
Yes. This is because 'yes' is a positive word and I don't like negativity. I don't like people who are always moaning and complaining but never do anything about anything.
Q: What makes you cringe?
Cruelty, violence, injustice, bullying of any kind, prejudice, fundamental religion, tyranny etc, plus loud music in public, rice pudding, semolina and tapioca pudding, and almost any kind of steamed pudding in fact.
Q: What are you afraid of?
Rice pudding, semolina and tapioca pudding, steamed puddings, especially Xmas Pudding which is truly disgusting! Also heights, and deep cave potholes.
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
This morning. My wife and I often make each other laugh. My wife says weirdly silly things like: 'You know, if you weren't you, you'd be - um - someone else." My step-daughter once complained that she didn't like her arms. My wife said: 'But darling, they're lovely! They go right up to your elbows!'
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
My family and my memories.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
Sleep mostly. I'm very good at it. Plus read, listen to music, walk, swim. I don't really have a hobby.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
I have this compulsion to make sure that when I am putting cutlery into the dishwasher I have to put at least two pieces into each cutlery basket, so they won't fell lonely on their own!
Q: What’s your favourite food?
Anything with garlic, plus I adore Middle Eastern and mediterranean food - hummus, falafels, samosas, pitta, smoked aubergine puree, etc. In fact I love most vegetables and fresh fruit.
Q: What do you day dream about?
Bringing about world peace, winning the lottery, writing a totally brilliant book, winning arguments, all sorts. I spend most of every day day-dreaming. It's part of my work.
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
I couldn't possibly tell you!
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Concert pianist. Since I can't play the piano yet this could be difficult.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
I'm happy being my age but maybe that's because I feel twenty years younger inside. Then I look in the mirror and discover I'm not!
Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
Empathy - the ability to understand how others feel.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
Other people's heads! Marrakech was pretty cool too.
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Don't give up.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
My toes. I don't like them. And I'm stubborn. It's not a good quality.
Q: What has life taught you?
That it's very short, so live each day the best you can and every day try to put a smile on someone's face and make them happy.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
My first book was published in 1978. You work it out!
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
Kind of. I was about 9 and I remember thinking it would be great to write stories because I loved doing just that. I didn't start really working on that idea until I was about 17 and I was 21 when I first began to try and get things published.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Mostly in the shed at the bottom of the garden. It's quiet and comfortable. I even have my own fridge down there! I also write in the top bedroom, sitting up on the bed, propped up with massive pillows.
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
Best - getting paid for doing something I love. Worst - a blank page and a blank mind.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
If I knew that I'd keep getting them there and write a great book every time, wouldn't I? So basically I have no idea.
Q: Which of your own characters do you most identify with?
The feisty, sassy ones. I like to think I'm like that, but I'm not really.
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
Talk to my wife or a friend. Go for a long walk. Do something else.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
JUST SO STORIES by Rudyard Kipling and MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, by Gerald Durrell.
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
The Molesworth books, by Geofrrey Whillans and Ronald Searle.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don't give up trying.
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