An important part of an author visit to schools is the opportunity for children to ask questions. As an introvert, I find this as daunting as the shyest child who doesn’t speak. However, I am learning how to cope with and even enjoy the experience. On my most recent school visit, the children asked some thought-provoking questions and I thought I would share them here, with my answers of course.
Which book are you reading at the moment?
How To Be Happy by Eva Woods – it is about two ladies who have set themselves a 100-day challenge to something joyful every day.
Did you enjoy writing when you were at school?
A little, but I didn’t think I was very good and certainly not in ‘creative writing’, but I enjoyed descriptive writing which I often based on things that I could actually observe rather than things I imagined. Luckily I found my creative side later in life.
Do you have a favourite author?
Yes, a few really: for adult novels, Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde are two of my favourites. In picture books I like Julia Donaldson, Giles Andreae and Claire Freedman. I also love Matt Haig (who writes for children and adults and all his books are amazing) and Cressida Cowell. My all-time favourite book is Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery which I first read when I was 11 years old (I think, possibly younger).
Do you have a favourite book?
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Have you ever written a book in one day?
Yes. I write a lot of my picture book stories in one day. Once I get an idea, I like to write it all at once, and then leave the story alone for a few days before reviewing it, making amendments and then sending it to an editor.
When did you start writing books?
I started writing when my two children were very little. They are 15 and 13 now, so maybe in 2009 when they were 3 and 1 years old. I published my first book in 2016, so it took me a few years after I began writing before I turned a story into a book.
How many books have you written?
I have published 3 books but I have written lots of other stories which I hope to turn into books one day.
How do you write your books?
Physically I always handwrite my stories in a special notebook (I have a few of those now). Once I’ve written the story, I type it on my computer. If you mean, how do I come up with ideas, the answer is that I like to use things that happen in my life to inspire me. Lum was inspired by my children messing about instead of cleaning their teeth. I am hoping to publish a book called Brave Brian about 3 friends who find a rhino and help it get back to Africa – that was inspired by a TV programme I watched about rhinos being returned to the wild after they’d been in captivity in zoos. The most recent story I wrote was written this year when I was challenged to walk 10,000 steps every day for a week. So the story is about a little girl who hates walking but discovers she loves sports instead.
How many books do you own?
I went to my bookshelf and counted my books – the answer is 546! This is 396 fiction books (plus 69 picture books and other children’s books from my Dad’s, mine and my children’s childhoods) and 81 non-fiction books. I have included my daughter’s books in this as we share a bookcase and I read all of her books as well as my own! I thought you might like to see a photo of my bookshelf too. This was taken a few months ago when we first bought the bookshelf – there are more books on the shelves now!
(I answered this one and emailed the school after the visit, so that I could get it right.)
How many books have you read?
I have absolutely no idea! I’ve read all the books on my bookshelf, so 546 at least. But then I borrow a lot of books from the library. And nowadays if I buy a book which I don’t think I’ll read again, I pass it on straight away – usually to a charity shop. This year, I have started to record all the books I read and so far I’ve read 8 books in 2 months. If I assume that I’ve always read 4 books per month, going back all my life, that would be 2,448 books. I’ve read my favourite books over and over and over again!
These questions came from a Reception class and their teachers. It does help if children are prepared in advance to think about the type of questions they would like to ask.
If you would like to arrange a visit where you can ask your own questions, please take a look at the Author Visits page and get in touch.