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CW4K

The Author Hotline

is 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

Stephen George

Ros Asquith

http://
rosasquith@mac.com
To download this profile page, click HERE 


Q: What were you like at school?

snap

A hard working, prize winning, insufferable teacherís pet until I was twelve, when I grew about seven inches, turning from the smallest to the tallest in my class. Secondary school was very disappointing so I spent most of my time there in a daydream and couldnít wait to leave. However, I did discover that a good way to make friends was to make jokes, which Iíve been doing ever since. My nickname was Rabbit. Was it my sticky out teeth? Or my big ears? Probably both.

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?

snap

An Apache chief. I wanted to gallop on an Appaloosa stallion (thatís a spotted horse, rather like a dalmatian) with a bow and arrow slung over my shoulder and feathers in my hair. I had two naughty older brothers and I wanted to be just like them. I refused to answer to any name but Jim until I was about five. I drew every spare minute and it occurred to me that it would be fun to write or draw for a living, but I never believed I would do it.

Q: Which three words describe you best?

snap

Tall, untidy, friendly.

Q: What is your favourite word?

snap

Bamboozle

Q: What are you afraid of?

snap

People who shout. Nowadays they make me more angry than scared.

Q: When did you last have a really good laugh?

snap

Last night, talking to my sons about the election. They make me laugh on a daily basis.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

snap

A pencil. Any old pencil will do.

Q: What do you do as a hobby?

snap

Play the piano very badly. Read, swim, walk. Have a nice cup of tea and a chat. Iíve been lucky to turn my real hobbies, writing and drawing, into my work.

Q: What strange habits do you have?

snap

Thatís for me to know and you to guess. Oh, OK then, I like to have a hot water bottle most of the year round. Not in August. Usually.

Q: Whatís your favourite food?

snap

Roast potatoes and fudge. Iíve never tried them together, so far.

Q: What do you day dream about?

snap

It used to be riding a dolphin alongside Marlon Brando,(who was the Robert Pattinson of his time, only better) but heís died and Iíve changedÖ So now itís the rather predictable daydream of Accepting an Oscar for best screen adaptation/animation. Itís unlikely to come true as Iíve never done either of these and am more likely to have a nice cup of tea and a chat.

Q: Whatís the most outrageous thing youíve done?

snap

I poured a nice cup of tea over my bossís head when he refused to pay me and two friends our overdue wages. My friends and I had been making fibreglass sculptures for six weeks in a badly ventilated space and the wicked boss, who looked very like Dennis the Menace, didnít give us proper gloves, so we had headaches and little splinters of fibreglass in our hands and were all very cross. I waited till the tea was luke warm thoughÖ(and given my desire for a nice cup of tea, this was a noble sacrifice). I also went round the San Fransisco zoo at night, caught an escaped tarantula, shared a cigarette with a chimpanzee, cuddled a wolf and stroked a tiger. Oh, and I once juggled naked standing on the shoulders of two other naked jugglers in a travelling circus. Generally speaking, Iím not outrageous at all.

Q: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

snap

I quite fancy myself as a lawyer. Naturally, in my daydreams I would always be defending innocent people and waging war on injustice. I donít think real lawyers get that choice very often.

Q: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?

snap

Younger, except first thing in the morning.

Q: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

snap

Shakespeare. Sorry to be so obvious. But how did he do it? Honestly? Using just the same 26 letters we all have? Multitudinous seas incarnadine! Good heavens.

Q: What quality do you most admire in a person?

snap

Kindness.

Q: What is the most interesting place you have ever visited?

snap

Cuba. There are good musicians on every street corner and itís refreshing not to see advertisements everywhere. It also feels very safe and is full of wonderful old cars stuck together with sellotape because they canít buy new parts. Apparently thereís no illiteracy there either, so everyone can read, which has to be a good thing. But look, I know itís not perfect at all. Just very, very interesting.

Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

snap

To work from the heart. In my twenties I tried to get work as a photographer with an amazing man called Simon Guttman, who ran a famous news agency called Report. I took a lot of very dramatic (I thought) political photographs which I was sure would impress him. I also took along some more personal ones of friends and family. He swiftly dealt them into two piles. ĎThese,í he said, indicating the political pictures, Ďare taken out of duty. These others are taken out of love. Continue to work for love.í Iíve tried to follow that advice ever since.

Q: What would you most like to change about yourself?

snap

Hah! Most things. If I had to choose one, it would be to influence my ability to concentrate so that I finish tasks as well as I possibly can instead of thinking ĎOh thatíll do, time for a nice cup of tea and a chat.í

Q: What has life taught you?

snap

Eh? How long is a piece of string?

Q: How long have you been a writer?

snap

All my life, but I did lots of other jobs before my first book (I Was a Teenage Worrier) was published in 1992. My first cartoons were pasted up inside The FUN ART bus, which travelled through North London with a piano on the bonnet, poems for tickets, a tiny cinema downstairs and a theatre on the top deck. It stopped at ordinary bus stops and anyone could travel for free. The driver played piano while people got on and off.

Q: Where do you do your writing?

snap

Iíve always written and drawn in my bedroom, but Iíve recently hired a small studio to experiment in. Iíve found getting away from home quite inspiring, as the house is always telling me to tidy it up. Itís not that I DO tidy up, but I do feel I should, and that is not conducive to creativity. I usually draw my cartoons at the beautiful Guardian office in Kings Cross.

Q: What are the best and worst things about being an author?

snap

Best things are being your own boss, not having to look smart, letting your mind run free. Having a nice cup of tea and a chat whenever you fancy. Worst things: can you make any money? Can you do your own tax return? Will you ever get another good idea? Or any idea? (see below)

Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?

snap

Every word Iíve ever heard, every sight Iíve ever seen. Every day is packed with stories. Trying to make sense of them is the hard bit. Thatís why doing cartoons is such fun (and so much easier than writing stories). You can just get a quick idea, doodle itÖ aha! Bingo! Itís excellent for those of us with a short attention span. Try it yourself. Go on. Think of six jokes about, say, cats. I bet you can. Now draw them. See? Itís fun, isnít it? But like all writers and artists I am often staring at the paper till my forehead bleeds (thank you, Douglas Adams).

Q: What do you do to combat ďwritersí blockĒ?

snap

Have a nice cup of tea and a chat. But I think the term Ďwriters blockí is indulgent, really. Writingís a job, like any other and if you choose to do it, then that is what you do: you sit down and write until itís done. What the term means, really , is how do you deal with not writing as well as youíd like? Of not being able to translate your magnificent story from inside your head onto the page. That, obviously, is a very painful and complicated matter. No one can write nearly as well as they would wish. Which is why Iíd like to meet Shakespeare, who could.

Q: What was your favourite book as a child?

snap

I liked comics best, which is probably why I have become a cartoonist. Iím excited by the graphic novel revival and hope we can start to see graphic novels as serious art forms, like they do in Europe and the USA. So: Superman and the Beano. Otherwise Alice in Wonderland (amazing Tenniel drawings), Fairy Tales (with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac) , anything by Edward Lear, almost anything with a horse in it. I loved ĎThe Lion the Witch and the Wardrobeí too, partly for Pauline Baynesís pictures and partly because Lucy was brave and got a dagger from Father Christmas. Much better than a tangerine.

Q: What book do you wish you had written?

snap

ĎWar and Peaceí by Leo Tolstoy. If I was a dictator, I would dictate that all politicians had to read it before declaring war. On the other hand, if I was a dictator, they wouldnít need to. And then again, by the time theyíd finished reading it, the reasons for declaring war might well have resolved themselves into something else: like a good reason to buy an ice cream. Or to have a nice cup of tea and a chat. I also wish Iíd written (and illustrated) ĎThe Jolly Postmaní by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I am uncertain which of these two books would be the harder to accomplish, but certain both are outside my reach.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

snap

Everyone says Ďreadí to this. I agree. But itís more important to write. A lot. Every day. I donít do this myself, but I draw a lot. And that, perhaps, is why I am better at drawing than writing.

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