Anne Fine, the second Children’s Laureate and the author of numerous books for children and adults, kindly agreed to answer some questions for The Book Base.
What were some of your favourite books when you were a child?
All the William books (Richmal Crompton). All the Jennings books (Anthony Buckeridge) and loads of Enid Blyton’s – especially The River, Mountain etc of Adventure.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?
The Devil Walks. It kept going wrong. I kept having to shelve it, write something simpler, then come back to it later.
Which of your characters is most like you?
The Mum in Goggle Eyes. Ally in The Stone Menagerie. Tulip in The Tulip Touch (deep, deep inside). Chester Howard in How to Write Really Badly.
How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?
No plotting or planning. I start with a situation that interests me, think ‘What if…?’, and off I go. The stories are character led.
Where do you write your books?
Anywhere it’s quiet. At home, it is quiet. On trains, I use an iPod with crashing surf (white noise) to blot the noises and chatter around me out.
Why do you enjoy writing for children?
I just enjoy writing (I write for adults, too). But the reading child is a committed reader. Your rarely hear, ‘Oh, I don’t find time to read’ from a child reader (not the same as a child who can read!)
What advice would you give to a young writers to help them to improve their stories?
Read, read, read. Then sit down and write the book you’d most like to read but no-one has written for you. And if all that planning and ‘wow words’ and connectives stuff you have to do at school (‘writing by numbers’) gets on your nerves, do it at home, the way you enjoy doing it.
Check out Anne’s website.