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.