Author Interview: Cathy Cassidy

Cathy Cassidy, the Young Adult and children’s author, kindly agreed to answer some of my questions. Here are her responses:

What were some of your favourite books when you were a child?

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?

The first (Dizzy) – because it took decades to crack the knack of writing a full-length book.

Which of your characters is most like you?

Miss Quinn, the art teacher from Driftwood, according to my friends! I am most like the quieter / shy / dreamy characters I guess.

How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?

I daydream, using an idea or inspiration as a starting point, and if I am lucky a story unravels. I don’t plot on paper – for me, this kills the story dead!

Where do you write your books?

I have a Macbook Air laptop so I might write in my writing shed, in the garden, or at the kitchen table!

Why do enjoy writing for children?

I get to see life through the eyes of my characters and share their adventures; I get paid to daydream; and I’m doing a job I love!

What advice would you give to young writers to help them to improve their stories?

My top tips for writers are on the Writer’s Workshop page on my website (see below), but most important of all is to believe in yourself – and WRITE!

Many thanks to Cathy for taking the time to contribute to The Book Base. If you haven’t already done so, check out her great website.

If you enjoyed this short author interview, have a look at more of our Q&As with writers.

Author Interview: William Nicholson

I was absolutely thrilled that William Nicholson, the British screenwriter, playwright and novelist agreed to answer some of my questions. William Nicholson wrote the screenplays for the movies Gladiator and Shadowlands, and he also penned the fantastic Wind on Fire trilogy (The Wind Singer, Slaves of the Mastery and Firesong).

Here are his responses:

What were some of your favourite books when you were a child?

The Just William books and The Beano comic.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?

Probably Rich and Mad because it’s a little controversial in its contents, and I wanted to get it right. (It’s for older kids.)

Which of your characters is most like you?

Kestrel and Bowman (from the Wind on Fire trilogy) when put together add up to me.

How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?

I do make detailed plans, but the plans change as I proceed. Usually I have the ending clear in my mind before I start, and that very rarely changes. But when writing The Wind Singer, I had no idea there’d be two more books.

Where do you write your books?

In a converted garage, which is my study or office, a few yards behind my house in Sussex.

Why do you enjoy writing for children?

It allows me to play games with my imagination.

What advice would you give to young writers to help them to improve their stories?

Your characters matter more than your plot. Think hard about them – what they want, what their odd habits are, how they talk. If necessary copy someone you know. If your characters have life, your story will live.

Thanks so much to William Nicholson for contributing to The Book Base.

If you enjoyed this interview, you should check out William’s fantastic website.

Author Interview: Chris Priestley

Chris Priestley, author of The Dead of Winter and Mister Creecher, answered some of my questions about his writing habits and favourite books.

Here are his responses:

What were some of your favourite books when you were a child?

I loved anything to do with Greek myths. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis stands out. And I loved historical fiction – especially Rosemary Sutcliff, Henry Treece and Leon Garfield.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?

They all have their own challenges. The Dead of Winter was tricky I think because I had been writing short stories and a novel is very different.

Which of your characters is most like you?

All writing is autobiography to a lesser or greater degree – even when it doesn’t seem like it. All of my characters are formed from my imagination – but none are really like me.

How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?

A bit of both – I have a plot and plan because I have to show a synopsis. But I feel no obligation to stick to anything but the main thrust of it.

Where do you write your books?

Either in my office in my home or in my studio – a place I rent across town from where I live.

Why do you enjoy writing for children and teenagers?

Because they are such enthusiasts. I know that’s not the caricature of teenagers – but if they like what you do they are incredibly positive and loyal.

What advice would you give to young writers to help them to improve their stories?

Give yourself a decent start and plan where you are going. You don’t have to stick to it – but it will make your life easier and it will mean that you will be less likely to give up.

Many thanks to Chris for contributing to our Author Interview series.

Make sure you check out his blog.