Monday, 24 November 2014

Questions, questions, questions

Marlpool's resident Triceratops
Last week, I went to a tiny infant school in Derbyshire called Marlpool Infant School. We had lots of fun reading stories and making up songs about dinosaurs. The school only had two classrooms. One of the rooms was like a dinosaur land. There were dinosaurs everywhere including dinosaur pictures, dinosaur models, even dinosaur lego!  

The Year 2 children gave me a list of questions they had thought of before I arrived and I thought I'd share them with you on here.  As you can see, it's a very long list!

What is your favourite:
colour - blue
food - chocolate for treats, baked potatoes for meals
animal - tigers - they're so beautiful
type of clothes - fleeces, jumpers and thermals because they keep me warm

What sort of dog is Roo?
She is a black labrador. Her actual breed is a working labrador, which means she has long legs and is slim.  Show labradors are the ones with fatter bodies and shorter legs. Roo's pedigree name is Kefalonia Cleo. Isn't that posh?!

Why did you want to be a book writer?
I read loads of books in the library when my daughter was little. Some of them were amazing and I decided I'd like to have a go.  Some of the books weren't very good and I thought I could write something better!

Have you written any books for adults?
Not yet - though I write my children's books with adults in mind because they often read them to children. 

How many books have you read?
Oh my gosh.  I have NO idea.  Hundreds. Thousands maybe. I listen to audio books on my phone while I'm walking, I read teen fiction and adult books too. 

Who drew the pictures for Welcome to Alien School?

Why do you like sitting in cafes?
I like working in cafes because I sometimes get tired of being by myself. Working at home can be a bit lonely when everyone else is out at school or work. I like having people around me when I'm writing, even though I don't really talk to anybody.  It's just nice to feel connected to the world. Also, you can buy nice cakes! Going to a cafe after a long chilly walk is a lovely treat too!

Why do you like making new books?
Sometimes an idea pops into my head and I just HAVE to write it down. Sometimes the ideas nag and nag at me and don't stop pestering until I have turned them into a story.  It's very satisfying to get a story down on paper and even more satisfying when someone draws pictures for it and a publisher turns it into a book.

Why did you have an invisible dog?
When my eldest daughter was about 8, she read a book called The Invisible Dog
by Dick King-Smith. It was about a girl who really wanted a Great Dane. She couldn't have a real one, so she got an invisible one instead. Jess really wanted a dog too, but we had always said no. She must have thought an invisible dog was a great idea. So she got Paddy. An invisible Old English Sheepdog.  He lived with us for two years, until one day, when my daughter was 10, we got Roo. After that Paddy disappeared. We think he went to live with another family.

What do you like to read at home?
I read lots of teen fiction. I also bought last year's Booker Prize shortlisted books and read most of those, just to see what Bigwigs think is a good book.  I liked some of them, but one was really thick and I found it a bit boring so I gave up with it and read something else.

What is your favourite book?
Farmer Duck. Have you read it?
It's got fantastic rhythm, even though it doesn't rhyme. And I love the illustrations too.

Why do you have four hens?
Actually we don't have the hens any more. The didn't lay many eggs and it was horrible having to feed them and clean them out in the rain and wind and mud, so we gave them away to some friends. Luckily we live in the countryside and there are a few farms that sell lovely free-range eggs so we buy them instead,  which is much easier and less muddy.

What books are you writing right now?
I'm writing a series of 4 baby books for Walker Books
I'm writing a series of 3 young fiction books for Nosy Crow
I'm writing a new Albie book for Simon and Schuster
and a new picture book for Nosy Crow.

I was counting up last night and I have 15 books in the process of being written or illustrated!  

Why do you like lying in the grass where nobody can see you?
Don't you?
I think it's fun to hide sometimes. If you lie down in long grass you can watch the clouds scudding by. Where I live there are lots of birds called skylarks that hover way up high in the sky and sing. It's fun lying in the grass and trying to spot them, especially on a warm sunny day.  

Is Welcome to Alien School your favourite book?
Oh gosh. ALL my books are my favourite!

What is your goldfish called?
Good question. I'm not quite sure any more. I think one is called Keo but I can't remember what the other one is called. We've had lots of different goldfish over the years.  Our first two were called Jonathan and Rosie!

How do you write such good books?
Well, I'm glad you think they are good! I suppose I just work very hard to find exactly the right words.  I try to imagine that I am the main character. When I'm deciding what to make them do next, I ask myself, "What would I do if it was me?"  

What other books do you write?
I have written three chapter books, called Foxy Tales and am writing three more for a different publisher. They are aimed at 6-8 year olds, so you might like them. They are pretty funny. Well, I think they are! I also like writing poems.

Why do you write stories?
Because it's more fun than having a proper job.

Who do you play hide and seek with?
I used to play it with my friends when I was little.  Then I played it with my children when they were little.  Now I play it with Roo, my dog!

What makes you such a good author?
I don't know! I try hard, I suppose! 

Why are your daughters cheeky?
They are full of fun and do silly things that make me laugh. Sometimes they are rude and I have to tell them off, which I don't like doing.  They are very good at tricking me into buying them things when I'm in a good mood.

Who do you go walking with?
Mostly I go by myself with Roo. I listen to an audio book on my iphone so that I don't feel too lonely.  Sometimes I go with a friend - usually another mum that I know from school.  At the weekends I go with my husband, Andrew, and sometimes our daughters come with us, but usually they are still asleep in bed! 

How many books have you written?
I have 16 books out and another 15 in production. How many does that make?
I have also written lots of books that might never get published. 

PHEW! What a lot of questions! I hope you haven't been too bored reading my long answers. Do get in touch if you have anything else you want to know.