Showing posts with label Interview 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interview 2022. Show all posts

Monday, 27 June 2022

David Solomons - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #27

 


It's time to explore another interview with you today; an epic interview with funny man author David Solomons. His new book, A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy, is just about to be launched into orbit on the 7th July 2022 with Nosy Crow Books. It's all about handing in your homework on time or maybe NOT?  

I have really enjoyed reading the responses to the questions posed. I particularly agree with the last part of question seven and would like to know your thoughts after reading this interview. You can share on Twitter with us @Enchantedbooks and with David Solomons @DavidSolomons2 if you have anything to say on this topic. Look forward to hearing from you and enjoy the post. 

  1. A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy is your new book, please could you sum up this book in the craziest way possible? 

Space opera in the suburbs. It’s that old story of boy meets girl next door. Girl turns out to be heir to the galactic throne who’s on the run and hiding out on earth from… ah. No spoilers.


  1. After writing five fantastic books in My Brother is a Superhero series, what challenges did you have starting with this new book? Did fresh ideas flow from the very first page? 

Thank-you for the compliment! I find that ideas flow in much the same way that blood does from an open wound. There’s a lot of them, but it’s a painful process. On the first question, enough time had passed since I’d closed the final chapter on the My Brother series that I didn’t feel those books hovering at my shoulder and peering at what I was doing now. Although, as I write this, I realise that everything I’ve ever written is shelved three feet behind me and could be said to be looming over me judgementally. 


  1. Are laughter and humour always going to be David Solomons's key writing ingredients? Do you feel it is important that readers engage through laughter when reading your books? 

I don’t set out to write funny books, it’s just the way they come out. I’m an inveterate noodler when it comes to funny scenes – I find myself going over and over them like some mad scientist – word choice, sentence rhythm, electrodes – in an effort to draw out the maximum lols. I can’t envisage writing a book that doesn’t contain humour; to do so would require a level of self-restraint that I have thus far failed to demonstrate in my life. Though I would say that, in my own mind anyway, I pay as much attention to the other elements. I challenge myself to make the stories funny and exciting, funny and poignant. It’s a tricky balance. For example, putting a snarky line into a character’s mouth at the wrong time can undercut what could and should be a dramatic moment. After years working together my editor, Kirsty Stansfield at Nosy Crow, is very good at reigning in my overenthusiastic tendencies!

  1. Most of the characters you write about have a superpower, what is your superpower? 

I can bend time so that deadlines just bounce off me.

  1. Everybody loves an evil villain, which villain would you love to have a real-life conversation with and how do you think it would go?

First one that comes to mind is Darth Vader, but it would be Eddie Izzard’s version of him from the legendary Death Star canteen routine. In which case our conversation would probably end with him killing me. With a tray.  

  1. Which of your books would you like to see being turned into a film and why? 

Any of them! And as for the reason, are you hoping for something more meaningful than fame, glory and a thumping great first day principal photography fee? I’ve been endeavouring to get my books into development/production for years, with a modicum of success. Steve Coogan’s company optioned My Brother is a Superhero, and I wrote a script for a proposed TV series, but that went away. I continue, Charlie Brown-like, to put my work in front of producers. In my other career as a screenwriter, I’ve written the screenplays for three films, including a version of Five Children and It, which I’m pleased to say continues to enjoy a life long after its debut.

These days I write screenplays mostly with my wife, Natasha. And they’re mostly adaptations of her books (for grown-ups). So, the other answer to your question is I’d like to have a film made purely to justify all the hard work we’ve put into the process.

  1. How important do you think it is to get children to read for enjoyment? 

I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. For them there isn’t any other kind of reading. By which I mean they’ll only read if the experience is enjoyable. Our eldest is going through an interesting reading phase. I’m in the fortunate position that I’m aware of what’s brand new in the world of children’s fiction. It used to be I could put anything in front of him and he’d read it, but from hoovering up every kind of book, reading three or four a week, he’s slowing down. Still reading and enjoying, but I get the sense that he’s starting to form his own likes and dislikes. He’s happy to reject dad’s suggestions! The six-year-old is just finding her reading feet, but she already has strong opinions, especially when it comes to line readings. At bedtime, when Natasha or I are reading to her, she’ll make us stop if she thinks we’ve flubbed a line. Then she’ll read it the way it ought to be performed. 

To go back to the original question, it makes my heart ache. Our whole industry ultimately relies on enough of these little people wanting to pick up a book. It’s why I get so angry when some publishers foist substandard fiction on them. Kid reads average book with huge marketing budget and shrugs: I’ll go back to YouTube thanks. Yes, publisher gets immediate sale, but what about the long-term? Is that kid going to turn into a lifelong reader if her early exposure to books is so flawed? I know it’s not as simple as that, but it doesn’t help.


 8. What question were you hoping to be asked in this Q&A and why? 


Is the author who appears in ‘My Cousin is a Time Traveller’ based on you? 


So, in the last of the Superhero series our heroes get an author visit at school, a dismal presentation from a sweating, under-rehearsed children’s writer. I was quite emotional, writing the last of this series, and I knew I was saying goodbye to characters who’d had transformative effect on my life. So I wrote myself into the story in order to say goodbye to them ‘in person’. However, since I pantsed much of that novel (i.e. made it up as I went along) my character turned out to have a bigger role than I’d intended. Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Maisie Chan - Author Interview (Q&A) - Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #26

 

Hello Everybody! This week we have another wonderful interview; I'm delighted to introduce Maisie Chan, who is the author of Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths. Her latest book is Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu and was only published this month (June 2022) by Piccadilly Press. In this interview, we are given a fantastic insight into the author, her relationship with her stories, and the characters of the books. I have really enjoyed reading the author's responses to the questions and hope these inspire you to pick up a copy of the book, which can be purchased here (BUY BOOKS HERE.)
  • Your recent novel is called Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu and will be published on 9th June 2022 with Piccadilly Press. How did you pitch this book idea to the publisher?
When I sold Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths I had to pitch a second book. I wrote down a one page pitch about a Chinese goddess who comes to earth but she's had enough with being a goddess and wants to be human. That book isn't Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu! However, I did want to keep the aspect of having a Chinese goddess in a more contemporary story. I had also written a teen novel about a girl who looks after her grandfather who has dementia, so I tried to put the two ideas together. I then wanted to infuse it with popular culture as I felt that TV and films had been a blessing over the lockdowns. 

  • Have you based any of the characters in the story on real people?

Well, I have some experience of being a young adult carer who looks after an older man, so I guess Lizzie has some links to me. Chi and Tyler her best friends aren't based on people I know. I did name some characters in the book using the names of my friends but the characters aren't them. Wai Gong (grandfather) is loosely based on my dad Ron, who had dementia and used to see someone he called 'Angel' so that sort of made it into the plot! 
  • There is a mention of sausage sandwiches in the plot; what would be Lizzie Chu's favourite sandwich fillings? 
Lizzie loves roast dinners, so I reckon she would like roast chicken (with the skin on) on some white crusty bread with butter, maybe with a smear of mayo. 
  • Lizzie comes up with an idea in the book to take Wai Gong on the trip of a lifetime to Blackpool. Why Blackpool and did you visit it as a child? 
I used to go to British seaside towns a lot as a child. We didn't have money to go to fancy places like....Benidorm! We would go to Blackpool on the coach and see the illuminations. We also went to Rhyl and Barry Island a lot. I remember there was a swarm of flying ants one summer. It was my worst nightmare! 
(Maybe that could be a good topic in a future book?)

  • Your first book was called Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths. What did you learn from writing this book that helped you to develop Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu? 
I had much less time to write Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu than I did Danny Chung. My editor was there from the beginning, which wasn't the case during the early drafts of Danny Chung. I think having an expert there in the early stages really helps so there are fewer drafts needed as they can steer you in the right direction a bit earlier. What I did differently with Lizzie Chu was to have a much stronger opening chapter where there is more action and tension. 
  • You are a British Chinese author who lives in Glasgow, are there any particular aspects of your cultural heritage that may we find in the characters and the plot? 
There are fewer British Chinese cultural elements in Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu and this was because unlike Danny Chung, I wasn't trying to introduce British Chinese culture to those who didn't know much about it. I wanted the story to be about a girl who really wants to do a nice thing for her grandad, and they're fairly British in the sense that they speak English to each other and aren't always eating 'Chinese' food (which to Chinese people is just called 'food'!). There are aspects of Chinese stories in the book. I used to dress up as Guan Yin when I was a storyteller, she's the goddess of compassion and mercy. So there are stories about her that are Chinese. She's one of the most beloved Chinese deities. Later on, I put in the Journey to the West story which is one of the most famous Chinese novels of all time. So the journey of Lizzie and the gang, mirrors the journey in that famous story which has the Monkey King in it. 
  • I love a good dance, what music would you and Lizzie Chu dance to?
I think Lizzie would dance to Cha-Cha-Slide which has elements of the cha cha cha but also is funky! I really like all kinds of music, old-school hip hop, RNB, Soul, Pop, World Music and Classical music. I like dancing, but I'm definitely not great at it! I can't do routines! But I can freestyle! 
  • How important is it to write books for children and do you think there is a place for adults to read and enjoy them as well?
Writing books for children is very special. I think there are multiple levels of things going on when you write for children. The most important is the story. Then books can promote empathy. Some children can see themselves for the first time when reading my book. That's important to me as I didn't have a book like Danny Chung or Lizzie Chu when I was growing up. There was nothing at all, and they still remain very few books like mine out there which is a shame. I've had many adults tell me that they enjoyed Danny Chung and I think Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu will appeal to adults too, especially if they like Strictly Come Dancing! 

Website: www.maisiechan.com

Twitter: @maisiewrites

Insta: @maisiechanwrites

Tik Tok: @maisiechanwrites

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Emma Bradley - Author Interview (Q&A) - The Trouble With Fairies (The Arcanium Series) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #24


Thank you for joining us for the third scheduled Q&A. This week I am delighted to introduce author Emma Bradley; self-published author of The Arcanium series. In this interview, you can find out more about the books (fantasy adventures about the Faerie world) as well as the author. Hopefully, we will be able to tempt you into wanting to read a copy. If so, you can purchase both books, and perhaps even a signed copy Here. 
  •  You have just published book two in your The Arcanium Series; what is the story about? 

The Arcanium series follows 16-year-old Demi as she joins the ranks of the FDPs (Fairy Deity People) and trains to become one of them. 


In the first book, she stumbles on a plot to overthrow the Queen of Faerie by a traditionalist Fae group called The Forgotten, but in book 2 she goes on assignment in Gallows Oak, an elitist Fae country club that The Forgotten are rumoured to use as a base. Her aim: to expose their secret gatherings and find out information on what they're plotting next. Unfortunately, Arcanium is chaotic at the best of times so she's not been prepared for the strength of the enemy or the tricks and pitfalls that are lurking, but at least this time her best friend Taz is going with her! 

  • At what point did you realise you wanted to write a book? What particularly fascinates you about the Fae that you write about?  

I've been writing ever since I was about 9 years old, starting off with pony stories and eventually widening into the world of fantasy fiction in my teens. I love the idea that you can escape into a world where anything is possible and also create your own, which is how the Arcanium series came into being. I wanted to have a character who wasn't a natural champion, but Demi actually started off as a sidekick until she shouted so loud my writing friends insisted she take the lead instead! With the tricksy nature of Fae folk as well, you can create great depth in both the enemies and the main characters, so that nobody is totally good (or totally evil because ‘they just are') - it was really important for me to show characters who have been moulded by life and their experiences into doing both good and bad things, and the consequences that come with it. 

  • You mention that Arcanium is the most prestigious of fairy organisations, please tell us more about it e.g. does it have a hierarchy system, etc? 

Arcanium is an absolute mess a lot of the time, purposefully so! I wanted a setting where everything is often chaotic rather than regimented, because this feeds in quite nicely not only to how a lot of large organisations are in real life (so it can be relatable), but also it lends itself nicely to creating stakes and obstacles for the characters in terms of lack of information, miscommunication, things not working when they should and so on. Despite this, becoming an FDP at Arcanium is a high honour, because it means you're trusted to be the eyes and ears of Faerie, taking on assignments and running errands for your clients. 


The hierarchy system is fairly simple - the Director, Queenie, handles the day-to-day running, while the Head Mentor, Emil, runs the assignments that FDPs are sent out on. Each qualified FDP gets a mentor who advises them while they're on assignment, and all hopeful FDP and mentor initiates must undergo two years of training as mentees before they qualify. Of course, things never run that smoothly for Demi, and although she's still a mentee she keeps accidentally volunteering (or getting signed up) for things!

  • Do your dreams ever become stories?

I tend not to remember my dreams, but my daydreams definitely end up in my stories sometimes. I've always found it easy to let my mind wander (to the frustration of teachers, bosses, and general people around me), but it's a great way to find inspiration and also you tend to absorb small things about your surroundings when you daydream that then leak into the stories without you realising!

  • I have seen a disclaimer that states: All initiates join at their own risk. Loss of limbs is unlikely. No refunds. Tell us more about the risks and what readers can expect and why?

Assignments in the realms of Faerie can be very dangerous, especially with The Forgotten roaming and planning to take over Faerie itself. Also, with Arcanium being so chaotic a lot of the time and a place that only a select group have seen inside of, rumours are bound to spread. Nobody knows if there's really a quarantine floor for dangerous creatures from Faerie, for example, or if they really did find a whole realm full of tentacles. Only those few FDPs and mentors who are lucky enough to make it through their first two years of course know what really lurks inside. It also takes a lot of effort and money to keep Arcanium running, so the 'No Refunds' was Director Queenie's idea. Once you pay for Arcanium's services, it's very unlikely you're getting your money back, but FDPs have never been known to fail an assignment. Lose a limb or disappear possibly, but the job always gets done one way or another!

  • Have you self-published your book? If so, did you have to take on all the roles a traditional publisher would? 

The Arcanium books are wholly self-published, and apart from the cover designs and advice from my editor, I'm doing the process single-handed. It's a long road in terms of the different tasks that need doing, but also shorter in terms of time-frame. So to release one book I usually have to:


Sort ISBNs for the barcode

Arrange and approve the cover design

Ensure the book is the best it can be (with editorial advice)

Format the interior files to fit distribution portal requirements

Make sure the details are uploaded in various places so bookshops can find the metadata

Marketing/promotion/giveaways (this would be anything from social media promotion on Twitter or through TikTok videos, contacting bookshops in the hope they'll stock the book, designing and ordering merchandise like postcards, bookmarks etc. ordering stock and holding giveaways to increase the reach of the book) 


This isn't the full list and many of these take much longer than the above makes it sound! But I do love being able to see every step of the process, and as a naturally anxious person I can wake up in the middle of the night to check something and reassure myself rather than needing to wait for an answer, which often helps!

  • What advice would you give an author who is thinking of self-publishing?

Research everything thoroughly first. I thought I'd done this, but I still came up against unexpected hitches with both books 1 and 2! Research, planning and expectation are key before you decide to self-publish, so what distribution platforms are you going to use (Amazon KDP, Ingram, D2D, etc.), are you going with a cover designer, have you budgeted for everything like ISBNs if you're using them, how are you planning to promote so people can find your book, and so on. 


It sounds like a lot, and I suppose it is in bulk, but each bit can be broken down and explored until you begin to see how it all hangs together. 


Above all else, make sure your expectations are realistic. Self-publishing may get your book out there quicker than traditional routes, but you will be doing more of the work with less of the validation - there's no professional body like an agent or publisher to reassure you your work is good enough. You have to be all of that for yourself (although writing friends are worth their weight in books!)

  • I have read you are a serial spender, what is the craziest purchase you ever made and how did it change your life? 

Aside from the cost of my currently teetering TBR tower, I think the craziest (and best) thing I ever bought was my black Labrador, Buddy. You know full well 'we'll just go up and have a look' will turn into tears, a lot less money and a car full of toys that said dog is never going to look twice at (and of course the dog himself). We met him, walked him for 15 minutes, the whole time of which he pretty much ignored us and tried to pull us into every hedge going, then when we opened the car in the shelter car park he jumped inside and refused to get out, so that was that! 


Luckily, he's more than earned his keep - when I start writing or get engrossed in something I can often go for a whole day without moving or remembering to have a drink or anything, so he knows to disturb me when it's time to go outside or if I've forgotten to eat!

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Alex Foulkes - Author Interview (Q&A) - Rules for Vampires - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #23


Hello to you all. It's time to flap your fantasy wings and crack out the garlic in our second fantastic interview. I'm delighted to be able to introduce Alex Foulkes, who is the author of a dark, funny series called Rules for Vampires. Ghosts Bite Back is the second book in the series and will be published later this year (Sept 2022 by Simon and Schuster). We thought we would ask the 'jammy' author and school librarian some questions on how to keep Vampires at bay and how she 'staked' a claim in writing horror fiction. We hope you enjoy this 'bleeding' marvellous interview; did you like what I did there? Enjoy!
  • Rules for Vampires is your first children's book, do you think Vampires actually have rules?
Yes! Vampires actually have loads of different rules throughout literary history - too many to include in one book. If you added in every vampire rule out there, you would have a very long story (and one that would contradict itself!) When I was writing Rules for Vampires, I wanted a clear set of Vampiric Laws to govern the world. I chose my faves and added a few of my own. My favourite Vampiric Law is probably concerning vampires being unable to enter uninvited, which I think is one of the coolest vampire limitations.
  • Would your younger self enjoy reading this book and why?
The character of Leo is actually based on myself when I was eleven, as well as children I've worked with in my time as a school librarian and a teaching assistant. I was a weird sort of kid and Rules for Vampires is definitely a very weird story! When I was a young reader, I definitely wanted something with a bit of bite, lots of fight scenes, scares and laughs. This has been my checklist for Rules for Vampires.
  • Are there any books that you have read that you think may have influenced your writing?
Oh, absolutely loads. A stand-out series is definitely Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, mostly for its gothic tone, amazing villain and eerie, unsettling atmosphere. I read these books growing up and absolutely wanted to be Violet Baudelaire! I think these stories have stayed with me all the way through to adulthood.
  • How do you think Sara Ogilvie's illustrations add another dimension to the storytelling and did she also illustrate the wonderful book cover?
Sara Ogilvie absolutely did illustrate the spine-chilling cover for Rules for Vampires! Her artwork takes this story to another level; her imagining of these characters and this world is so rich, so fun and so detailed. When you pick up a copy of Vampires, Sara brings you into the Dreadwald in a way that words on their own wouldn't do quite as well. She's seriously magical. Her work on Leo in particular added additional depth to the way I now write this important character. I think it's because I have Sara's strong picture of Leo's design in my head as I write her.
  • I read somewhere that "World Book Day would be your Jam." What would be your perfect World Book Day?
Hahaha! World Book Day is indeed my total jam - you've been on my author website! Fangs so much! World Book Day is an important day to librarians everywhere and I am no exception. My ideal WBD would definitely be in school, with lots of dress-up and fun activities. Of course an open, busy library. And - most important of all - sharing stories. Reading together. Talking about books. Of course, reading is for every day, but WBD is such an amazing celebration of reading for enjoyment, why not make a point of it? Discussing our favourite reads is so important.
  • Ghosts Bite Back will be the second book in the series (published this September 2022). What can readers expect in this book and is humour a key role in this story?
If readers have enjoyed Rules for Vampires, they will find that Ghosts Bite Back is even BIGGER, even GHOSTLIER, with oodles of fights and laughs and chills. I wanted to take everything I loved about writing Vampires and turn it up to eleven for Ghosts. Leo and Minna are facing some serious danger in this story! In spite of this, humour is absolutely still a key element to Ghosts Bite Back. I find that, no matter what I write, having a lightness and a sense of fun is always important.
  • What is the best thing about being a published author? 
The best thing about being a published author... is going into schools, libraries and bookshops and meeting readers. It's absolutely the best thing in the world. I also love talking to aspiring writers and hearing about their creativity and writing journeys.
  • What question were you hoping I might have asked? (Please could you answer from the perspective of one of your characters in the book)
I have spoken to Rodrigo, Leo's spidery roommate, and he had this to say:


"You must want to know what it's like being the secret TRUE HERO of this story! Of course Rules for Vampires should have been called Rules for Spiders, as I am clearly the most important character on the page. My chapters are clearly the best. I'm working on being included in EVERY chapter of Ghosts Bite Back, as I think this would improve the story eightfold.
"I've found fame tricky to deal with, ever since Rules for Vampires came out. Paparazzi chase me at every turn. Please understand - I know I am a big deal and you want to put me on the cover of every magazine - but I am just a humble spider. So humble."

Monday, 30 May 2022

David Solomons - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #21


Hello Everybody. I'm delighted to be able to announce that over the next two/three months there's going to be a whole host of exciting and interesting author Q&As. This week we're going to kick off with funnyman David Solomon. Here we find out that there is life after his brilliant series My Brother is a Superhero as he has a new book out on 7th July 2022 (published by Nosy Crow). It's called A Beginner's Guide to Building a Fart Machine - no, really it's A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy! 

It is a real pleasure and a privilege to share this first Q&A with you. So, let's begin by finding out more about the author, his writing and, of course, his amazing new book. What's it called again? 
 
  • A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy is your new book, please could you sum up this book in the craziest way possible? 

Space opera in the suburbs. It’s that old story of boy meets girl next door. Girl turns out to be heir to the galactic throne who’s on the run and hiding out on earth from… ah. No spoilers.

  • After writing five fantastic books in My Brother is a Superhero series, what challenges did you have starting with this new book? Did fresh ideas flow from the very first page? 

Thank-you for the compliment! I find that ideas flow in much the same way that blood does from an open wound. There’s a lot of them, but it’s a painful process. On the first question, enough time had passed since I’d closed the final chapter on the My Brother series that I didn’t feel those books hovering at my shoulder and peering at what I was doing now. Although, as I write this, I realise that everything I’ve ever written is shelved three feet behind me and could be said to be looming over me judgementally. 

  • Are laughter and humour always going to be David Solomons's key writing ingredients? Do you feel it is important that readers engage through laughter when reading your books? 

I don’t set out to write funny books, it’s just the way they come out. I’m an inveterate noodler when it comes to funny scenes – I find myself going over and over them like some mad scientist – word choice, sentence rhythm, electrodes – in an effort to draw out the maximum lols. I can’t envisage writing a book that doesn’t contain humour; to do so would require a level of self-restraint that I have thus far failed to demonstrate in my life. Though I would say that, in my own mind anyway, I pay as much attention to the other elements. I challenge myself to make the stories funny and exciting, funny and poignant. It’s a tricky balance. For example, putting a snarky line into a character’s mouth at the wrong time can undercut what could and should be a dramatic moment. After years working together my editor, Kirsty Stansfield at Nosy Crow, is very good at reigning in my overenthusiastic tendencies!

  • Most of the characters you write about have a superpower, what is your superpower? 

I can bend time so that deadlines just bounce off me.

  • Everybody loves an evil villain, which villain would you love to have a real-life conversation with and how do you think it would go?

First, one that comes to mind is Darth Vader, but it would be Eddie Izzard’s version of him from the legendary Death Star canteen routine. In which case our conversation would probably end with him killing me. With a tray.  

  • Which of your books would you like to see being turned into a film and why? 

Any of them! And as for the reason, are you hoping for something more meaningful than fame, glory and a thumping great first day principal photography fee? I’ve been endeavouring to get my books into development/production for years, with a modicum of success. Steve Coogan’s company optioned My Brother is a Superhero, and I wrote a script for a proposed TV series, but that went away. I continue, Charlie Brown-like, to put my work in front of producers. In my other career as a screenwriter, I’ve written the screenplays for three films, including a version of Five Children and It, which I’m pleased to say continues to enjoy a life long after its debut.

These days I write screenplays mostly with my wife, Natasha. And they’re mostly adaptations of her books (for grown-ups). So, the other answer to your question is I’d like to have a film made purely to justify all the hard work we’ve put into the process.

  • How important do you think it is to get children to read for enjoyment? 

I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. For them there isn’t any other kind of reading. By which I mean they’ll only read if the experience is enjoyable. Our eldest is going through an interesting reading phase. I’m in the fortunate position that I’m aware of what’s brand new in the world of children’s fiction. It used to be I could put anything in front of him and he’d read it, but from hoovering up every kind of book, reading three or four a week, he’s slowing down. Still reading and enjoying, but I get the sense that he’s starting to form his own likes and dislikes. He’s happy to reject dad’s suggestions! The six-year-old is just finding her reading feet, but she already has strong opinions, especially when it comes to line readings. At bedtime, when Natasha or I are reading to her, she’ll make us stop if she thinks we’ve flubbed a line. Then she’ll read it the way it ought to be performed. 

To go back to the original question, it makes my heartache. Our whole industry ultimately relies on enough of these little people wanting to pick up a book. It’s why I get so angry when some publishers foist substandard fiction on them. Kid reads average book with huge marketing budget and shrugs: I’ll go back to YouTube thanks. Yes, publisher gets immediate sales, but what about the long-term? Is that kid going to turn into a lifelong reader if her early exposure to books is so flawed? I know it’s not as simple as that, but it doesn’t help.

  • What question were you hoping to be asked in this Q&A and why? 

Is the author who appears in ‘My Cousin is a Time Traveller’ based on you? 


So, in the last of the Superhero series our heroes get an author visit at school, a dismal presentation from a sweating, under-rehearsed children’s writer. I was quite emotional, writing the last of this series, and I knew I was saying goodbye to characters who’d had transformative effect on my life. So I wrote myself into the story in order to say goodbye to them ‘in person’. However, since I pantsed much of that novel (i.e. made it up as I went along) my character turned out to have a bigger role than I’d intended. Thanks for asking.