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?
At primary school I was the child who sits in the corner reading while everyone else is running around developing social skills. I also loved climbing and exploring, but everyone said I was a real day dreamer. I was very shy at my first secondary school, which was a boarding school, and didn't make many friends. I moved to a different school after two years and was much happier, made more friends - but I still spent all my time with my head in a book!
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
Q: Which three words describe you best?
Peripatetic, day-dreamer, silly
Q: What is your favourite word?
Hugge. It's a Danish word pronouncd 'hooger' and means 'cosy' or 'home-like'
Q: What makes you cringe?
Not much now, but when I was a teenager, everything!
Q: What are you afraid of?
Sharks, giant squid, that kind of thing.
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
Hmm... Maybe this afternoon, at something my dad did.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
I have a few. One is a watch-chain that belonged to my grandfather, who fought in the first world war. Another is a box of letters that me and a friend sent to each other when we were teenagers. Then there's my computer...
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
At the minute I'm trying to get fit, so exercise-y stuff. I love yoga, and I love rock climbing, though it's a long time since I did any. I also enjoy cooking, which sort of works against the getting fit initiative, unfortunately.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
Not really a habit so much as a necessity, but travelling. I'm half Bangladeshi and half English, was brought up in Libya where I went to school in a class of children from 20 different countries, later on I lived in Brussels for several years, and now I spend lots of time in Italy.
Q: What’s your favourite food?
Chickpeas. To drink, tea.
Q: What do you day dream about?
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
Perhaps move to Brussels to live with my boyfriend even though we'd only spent a week in each other's company. Eight years later we're still together and planning to get married.
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would love to be an archaeologist, and I'd also love to do something really physical, like be a mountaineer.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
Younger, about 12.
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
An ability to really listen to other people and to treat them with respect.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
Everywhere I've been has been interesting in its own way. Naples, however, is an incredible city!
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Don't worry, be happy.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
I wish I had more motivation and was better organised.
Q: What has life taught you?
That everything is relative.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
I began writing when I was 13, but got published for the first time when I was 29.
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
When I was at boarding school, after the lessons finished, we used to have to sit in a classroom and do our homework. I often ran out of homework, and if I didn't have a book on me, I would day dream stories as I sat there waiting for the bell. One day I realised that I had a pen, and I had some paper, and I could actually write these stories down. I remember the shock of excitement as I realised what this meant: the stories would last forever! I was suddenly thinking about my daydreams in a totally different way.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Anywhere I can! I like to write with a pen and notebook in cafes.
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
The best thing is getting letters from children who write 'I loved your book!'. You feel as if you're doing something truly meaningful and have touched the lives of people you'll never meet. The worst thing is worrying that you're not good enough, and always being broke.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
I get a lot of ideas from non-fiction, magazines and books. I get ideas from history and science, but I also got the idea for Chips, Beans and Limousines after reading some articles about Madonna's daughter. It made me wonder what it would be like to be the child of someone really famous.
Q: Which of your own characters do you most identify with?
None of the published ones!
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
I give myself very small goals, say, 'You must write 50 words today, and then you can stop'. Usually once I get started I want to carry on.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
I had lots: the Tintin and Asterix books, the Narnia books, Joan Aiken's short stories, Tove Jansson's Moomin books, the Green Knowe books, Alan Garner's books, The Hobbit, Tom's Midnight Garden, a wonderful poetry book called The Puffin Book of Magic Verse, a book called The White Deer by James Thurber, etc. etc. etc.
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
The Owl Service by Alan Garner - it's perfect.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don't be discouraged by rejection, but do learn from it.
Chips, Beans and Limousines
Socks, Shocks and Secrets
Doughnuts, Dreams and Drama Queens