Why do you write?
I don’t properly know why but I can’t imagine not writing. I’ve told and written stories ever since I can remember. I think perhaps I used to make up stories to make sense of the world but now making stories are my world.
Is writing your first love or do you have another passion?
Definitely my first love. Being a writer isn’t just about the writing, it’s also about being in the creative life and really enjoying it!
What was the first book that made you cry?
I’m pretty unsentimental and it takes something to make me shed tears. Books about hard-won friendship will do it. Most recently, it was Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders which is a truly heart-wrenching sequel to E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The hardest thing is probably keeping going in the face of almost constant rejection. This isn’t a plea for sympathy because all writers – published and pre-published – face failure. But you do have to develop an ability to stand back from rejection, de-personalise it, analyse it and crack on with the next thing. And most importantly enjoy the creative life! I have blogged about this in Notes from the Slushpile, here!
Name a fictional character you consider a friend.
That’s hard! Who would I enjoy a good chat with AND trust with my life? I would say Hermione Granger but she’s too serious … no, it has to be Moomintroll – for his sense of adventure and being brave and holding onto his family and friends. For Moomin beginners, I recommend, Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. Once in the Moomin’s world, you won’t want to leave.
Did getting published change your perception of writing?
Not really. It made me VERY happy! But creating stories remains what I do and who I am.
Who inspires you and why?
So many people! I am part of a brilliant organisation called the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and we are around to support writers and illustrators in what can be a lonely industry. I have made so many friends who continue to inspire me with their brilliance and determination – here’s to my slush pile buddies – Candy Gourlay, Teri Terry, Kathryn Evans, Em Lynas, Paula Harrison, Jo Wyton and Nick Cross. I love them all!
Which book deserves more readers?
Eek! I would have to name so many books! One of the wonderful things about being a children’s writer is that you absolutely have to read, read and read some more. Here are a few books which left an impression …
The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett. It’s a wartime story about honesty and courage.
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh. A wonderfully evocative and exciting medieval story of magic and secrets.
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne-Jones. I could have chosen any of her books. They are clever, magic and funny,
Do you have any friends that are writers? If so, do you show each other early drafts?
Hem-hem, please see my answer to 7! Yes, I do share early work with my friends in my SCBWI group and actually anyone who will read it because it is VITAL to get constructive reaction and critique from as many well-informed readers as possible.
Who or what are you most excited to see at Newark Book Festival
I am very excited to hear Chitra Soundar (SCWBI pal!) who has recently been shortlisted for the Greenaway prize!