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: Which three words describe you best?
Beautiful, wealthy, liar.
Q: What is your favourite word?
I have lots of favourite words, so it would take me ages to write them down. However I am somewhat fond of “somewhat”, “ancient” as well as over-using exclamation marks!!!
Q: What were you like at school?
Probably rather stroppy and sulky. I loved reading, writing, art and history, but was not very good at other things.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be writer, an artist and a very serious actress. Two were impossible.
Q: What makes you cringe?
Slugs & worms & slimy creatures. Thoughts of some of the stupid things I’ve said or done.
Q: What are you afraid of?
The dark, and bad things happening to people I love.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
I’d have to say my family, although they aren’t really a possession.
Q: What do you do as a hobby?
Read books I want to read. Visit museums and galleries so I can muse about new ideas. Play djembe drums badly.
Q: What strange habits do you have?
Saying “garn” instead of “gone”. My brother does it too, so it’s an inherited habit but we don’t where the “garn” comes from, or why.
Q: What’s your favourite food?
Excellent minestrone soup. Strawberries and cream.
Q: What do you day dream about?
I like daydreaming about story ideas and places and people I’ve visited.
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
I was in large house playing a game like hide and seek, and I hid in the empty linen cupboard of a bathroom. However, the room had a loo in it, and not everyone was playing! I kept very, very quiet until the room was empty again.
Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I’d like to illustrate a book, or be an archaeologist.
Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?
I’m a writer. I can be any age or character I choose.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
India, a land where many ages exist at the same moment - beautiful, incredible, fascinating and sometimes terrible.
Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”, i.e. don’t get distracted by all the aspects of the writing life that stop you getting the words on the page. I forget who said it.
Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?
Sitting at a desk is not healthy, so I would like to take up running, or even just rather fast walking. I would quite like to be a good swimmer but I don’t like water that jumps at you.
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
About the time my children were definitely old enough to look after themselves. Writing makes you spend lots of time alone - thinking, scribbling, muttering, pacing and going over and over your work – which doesn’t fit well with small people who yell “Mummeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Or bigger ones who say “Er, I need a lift like now . . .”
Q: Where do you do your writing?
Most fortunately, I have a workroom with three tables all to myself - and the cat and the ironing and the spare sofa bed and odd toys and objects for my school visits and lots of books and my djembe drum and . . .
Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?
One of the most wonderful things is that YOU are the person in charge of your story. You are the writer but, through the words you choose, you’re also acting all the characters, painting all the scenery, designing the lighting, music, sound and special effects. How enticing a life is that? Another best thing is sharing and enjoying my stories with children on school visits. One of the worst things about being a writer is having your books go out of print. And all the administration involved with school visits and such things.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
I try to help story ideas along by being observant aka nosey wherever I go, especially by visiting interesting places and by reading non-fiction books as well as stories. However, the really good stories come from the mix of ideas deep inside your mind.
Q: What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
The thing that helps me combat writer’s block is going to a place where nobody will bother me for a long time. The place might be somewhere quiet and lonely or it might be a café. I note down all the questions I need to “ask” the plot or the characters, and write down all the “answers” that come into my head. Gradually I start to discover what’s missing or what’s not quite logical in my manuscript and what the solutions might be. Then all I have to do is go through every single page of what I’ve written so far and make the words fit with those “answers”.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
I liked the “Coloured Fairy Books”, a series of folk and fairy stories collected by Andrew Lang, which I often used to borrow from my local library. I also liked Black Beauty.
Q: What book do you wish you had written?
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. The Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve. Most books by Terry Pratchett.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read all kinds of books and try writing all kinds of writing until you get to know what works for you. Be very, very determined, even when you get stuck. Writing takes time!
The Third Elephant
A Boy Called Mouse
Big Bad Blob
Red Riding Hood Rap
Mr Pod & Mr Piccalilli
The Deep Dark Forest
Florence & The Drummer Boy