Did a specific event or person motivate you to become a writer? Can you tell us what happened?
As a primary school teacher, I once taught a class of 6-7 year olds. They were at an age when their baby teeth would become wobbly and fall out – often during the school day. They used to love telling me about it although it did drive me a little crazy at first. It got me thinking as to what a tooth fairy might do with the teeth, but as there were a few tooth fairy books out already I didn’t pursue the idea. But I couldn’t leave it alone so decided to put a different spin on it all using teenagers in the main character roles.
Are you a full time or part time writer?
Having taught in primary schools for 20 years, I am now happy to say that I write full time. Before, I worked through the day and early evening making it difficult to find time for writing. I had to squeeze in time after marking each evening which could result in very late nights. Weekends were wonderful though and meant I could find a little extra time during the days to write. I did try getting up very early to write, but that didn’t work for me. I’m just not a morning person.
What are the three best things about writing for you?
Tricky question as writing brings so much to writers. Okay… I love how the stories in my head start to come to life as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard. Breathing life into a new character is so amazing. It’s great to see just how much they develop as the plot unfolds. Writing brings me a great feeling of accomplishment. I was never an ‘A’ student at school so it gives me so much pleasure when my books are read and enjoyed. To think that the crazy characters in my head are being let loose on the world feels so good. Being a writer is a somewhat lonely profession, but it has actually opened up a great social network for me. I belong to the SCBWI which means I get to talk to other writers about what I’m doing and attend numerous events where I can meet agents, publishers etc. I’m also a lively participant on Twitter where I to chat to other paranormal writers mostly, but also take part in YA chat hours.
You write books for children and young adults, what made you pick these genres?
Because I worked in a primary/elementary school, writing for children seemed a natural start to my writing career. I was able to try out my ideas on my target audience each day and they gave me great feedback. It wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, but that’s the whole point and it made me reconsider some plot points and refine my character development. I had read a lot of young adult books and wondered if it was an age range I could move into. I’d always wanted to write a ghost story too. I thought it might be too scary for an MG audience, but not scary enough for adults so YA seemed to be the right range. In a way it was a gamble, but the story has been received well by the target audience. And because my previous MG readers are now older, they are forming a fanbase for my YA books.
Can you tell us about the books you have written?
I have three children’s fantasy novels published for the 8-12 year range although I have sold a lot to teenagers and adults. In fact, my oldest reader for these books is in her sixties! They are stories about a group of stroppy teenage tooth fairies and how they try to save their world.
Here’s the blurb for the first book: Aggie Lichen faces the same dilemmas as any other thirteen year old; what to wear, how to keep out of trouble at school. But while other thirteen year olds are doing their homework or settling down to watch T.V., Aggie flits from house to house in search of prize pilps. That’s where Aggie is a little different. You see, Aggie Lichen is a pilp collector – a tooth fairy! One nightsgritch – a tooth collecting evening – Aggie is attacked by a bright, mysterious light. Is it just a low flying glow worm or a bad tempered giant bluebottle? Or, as Aggie and her gang suspect, is it something more sinister? Unknown to them, Aggie and her gang have just thirty days to solve the mystery and save their kind but time is not on their side … neither are the Sprites or the Grublins …
I also have a Tween/YA paranormal novel out, Marvin’s Curse. It tells the story of a 17 year old boy who has inherited the gift of speaking to ghosts from his dead dad. Here’s the blurb for it:
How would you handle the dead?
After losing his dad, 17 year old Marvin finds he can see and talk to the dead, an inherited ‘gift’. Bonus, you might think, but Marvin hates it. It makes him different and he just wants to be ‘normal’. He meets Stella in the graveyard that backs onto the house he’s just moved into.
‘My name is Stella, Stella McCartney. It says so inside my trousers.’ (!?!)
A mysterious business card reveals that Stella has lost her memories and all signs point to Moghador, a gateway to hell where a pawnbroker holds the answers. Oh, and she’s dead!
Do you follow a set process to write your books? If so can you share it with us?
Not really a process as such. I tend to jot down ideas in a kind of mind map and add to that when other things come to me. I scribble notes as I go in a carefully selected notebook for that particular book. I’m very much a person who just writes things down when watching TV or in the car (not driving, of course!). I usually write the first draft, have a read through then move on to structural editing. For the first time, I’m using an editing workbook (Darcy Pattison – Novel Metamorphosis) to try and improve the process by using the exercises suggested. I have used a freelance editor for all my books to ensure that I haven’t missed any issues before the books are unleashed on the world.
What’s your favourite time of day to write? Why do you enjoy writing at this time?
I prefer to start writing around mid-morning. I’m not a particularly early riser and need a few cups of coffee before I can begin. It’s a time when I feel most awake and able to tackle the writing challenges of the day. I’m quite happy to write early evening too depending on where I am in my story. If I’m at a difficult part, I like to press on to see if I can solve the issue, if not, it waits until the next day – after the coffee though.
Do you have need to be alone to write?
Yes, if I am at home and I need quiet too. I like to keep the door shut on my study to keep any form of noise out. This can often be my dog barking for attention or music blasted out by my husband. But I also enjoy writing in cafes on cruise ships which is a complete contrast as there can be around 2000 people at any time on these ships.
Do you have a favourite writing space?
I write mostly in my study which looks out on to trees and greenery. It has a firm chair which means I have to sit up straight and focus. In a softer seat I tend to slouch and fall asleep… zzzzzzz!
What are you writing at the moment? What do you plan to write this year?
I’m currently editing another YA book, The Iron City. It’s kind of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hunger Games – with dragons. In the book, it falls to a geeky teenage girl, Rae, to save the world from dragons. Here’s a snippet!
‘I am George, the original George as in George and the Dragon?’ said George, taking a Peter Pan stance. ‘And this is my trusted friend, Ascalon.’ He pulled a small wand like stick from his pocket. ‘…the dragon slaying lance.’ Rae stared hard at George then transferred her fierce look to the stick/lance he was holding. Then she burst out laughing. ‘Oh, please! George and the Dragon?’ She fell back against the tree. ‘Are you for real?’ George shook the stick several times. ‘It does that sometimes. It gets stuck. I think it’s all the crap it’s collected over the last few hundred years.’ ‘Oh my god. You’re still talking, George,’ said Rae. ‘And it’s still just a stick. Look!’