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?
Fat and clever, a lethal combination as I was bullied in my first couple of schools. But I'm ashamed to say I also bullied other little girls the moment I got the chance to be in with the in crowd. I hated school and was really unhappy until the sixth form when I finally had some friends and a social life, and became quite naughty.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to run off into the wild with wolves. Really that feeling persisted right through school and into University. I've never been very good at having practical, achievable ambitions....running off with the wolves is pretty much as focussed as I ever got.
Q: Which three words describe you best?
animal loving geek
Q: What is your favourite word?
almost anything in Italian
Q: What makes you cringe?
Oh...so many things. Radio phone in when the persons says 'can I just say hello to a few people?' I'm shuddering just to THINK of it.
Q: What are you afraid of?
Like all parents, I fear for my kids and am capable of worrying about any situation. I'm really afraid of sharks. I've written about them, I've seen them in the wild, I think they are fabulous creatures....but they make my hair stand on end. I was swimming next to the boat I worked on this March (studying sperm whales in the Sea of Cortes...not something I make a regular habit of you understand) and when I got back on board my friend told me there was a shark under the boat...a bull shark which are regular people eaters. Thanks 'friend'
Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?
Oh dear...Rather a long time ago. Except I AM looking after a friend's dog (not my shark 'friend') today and he has the wiggliest bottom that has made me smile throughout the day. He has his nose on my lap now in the hope that I will stop being BORING and take him for a W A L K.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
The thing I'd grab if the house were burning (aside from my kids) would be photos of my children when they were small. I've LOVED being a mummy and I would never want to lose those times when they were young. And if I had help to carry stuff....my paintings. I've got two Mark Hearld's of birds, a Jackie Morris of curlews and a picture by a mate of a lovely red tree.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
Hobby. Yes I know that word. I used to paint and sing. Now I just run and swim and go the gym to stop myself falling into bits and that seems to take up any spare time. I am going to the movies tonight tho' but I don't think that counts.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
Apologising all the time. Drives my kids nuts.
Q: What’s your favourite food?
There is nothing in the world that cannot be improved by the addition of houmous.
Q: What do you day dream about?
Coral reefs, tropical forests, anteaters, gibbons, running off with the wolves
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
No, couldn't possibly tell you.
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
I am ancient and I know it, but really I'm seven inside
Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Charles Darwin...my hero and all round sweetie pie. Not just the person who came up with the most important idea in human history but a great naturalist and a truly dear soul. If I can have two...I'd have John Keats. Wonderful poet and another truly lovely person.
Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?
Can I have three? Kindness, sense of humour, ability to wash behind the ears.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
mmm...hard. I really loved Baja California where I was this March. Wish I'd had more time to explore and look at the desert properly as it was my first time in a REAL desert. But I adore Italy. I'm just happy from the moment I get there. I could wander dreamily around Venice or look at the marble mosaics on the floors of Roman churches for a very long time. I've never been to Florence and I SOOO want to go
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Don't tell people five things they'll forget when you can tell them one thing they'll remember.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
Why can't I have more than one thing? My history I think if it has to be just one.
Q: What has life taught you?
That I'm rubbish at making any kind of decision and that putting what and who you love first is the only rule worth sticking to.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
For about 20 years...started writing for telly then moved to books.
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
I kind of always wanted to be a writer, but just didn't have the confidence. Also I was very political when I was young and I thought being a scientist was more useful than being a painter or a writer as art had to be supported by the upper classes. If it hadn't been for that I'd be a painter now I think.
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Here in my study with books all round me, but not usually with a dog on my feet.
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
Days when you are in the world you have created, or when the words do just what you need and want them to do. Days when you can work with children and get THEM to play with words and discover their own voice. Bad things...when your editor asks for a 'tiny change' that makes the whole structure of what you have written come apart. I try not to scream and yell and mostly succeed
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
Not sure I have great ideas.
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
Think about my electricity bill.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
The Country Child by Alison Uttley. She's famous for the Little Grey Rabbit books, which I loathed when I was little, but this book is about a child growing up alone in the country. I identified with the little girl in the book and felt I wanted to be her. The descriptions of life on the farm are wonderful. I read it over and over and over.
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
Peepo by Janet and Alan Ahlberg...stunningly brilliant piece of social history in picture book form. I'd sooner write a picture book loved by a generation of children than win the Booker prize.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Like it says on the Nike advert, Just DO It. Don't expect to be rich or famous...if you want those things be an accountant or go on the x factor. But write from the heart, and write from what you know to be true.
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