Kieran Larwood, the author of Freaks (to be published by Chicken House in April 2012), kindly agreed to answer some of my questions.
Here are his responses:
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
The first book I fell in love with was The Hobbit, but I had many other favourites, especially The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea and The Borribles by Michael De Larrabeiti.
Which of your books was most difficult to write? Why?
I’ve only written one! I’m hoping any future books will be easier, as that was four years of hard labour, mainly because I was trying to fit it in alongside a full time job and having babies. (Although my wife actually had the babies – I just watched).
Which of your characters is most like you?
I think all of them have a little aspect of me, which I have then blown out of proportion to make their dominant feature. Although I hope I don’t smell like Monkeyboy.
How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?
I had an initial plot, which became more intricate as I wrote. Then I plotted and rewrote it again, and again and again.I think I rewrote it at least five times. And then it won the competition (The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2011) and had to have two more rewrites – this time with a bit of editorial help.
Where do you write your books?
I have a little cramped corner of the bedroom where I write in the evenings, but in the holidays (I work as a teacher)I go and find a quiet room somewhere. I’ve written in my parents house, an empty school and out in the garden so far. Anywhere I can hear myself think.
Why do you enjoy writing for children?
Because you don’t have to worry about being profound or what English students will think when they pull your book to pieces in a seminar. It’s just the story and creating something for children to escape into and hopefully treasure, like I treasured the books I mentioned above.
What advice would you give to young writers to help them to improve their stories?
Don’t be afraid of re-writing. Put your work away for a couple of months and then come back to it with fresh eyes – keep the good bits and rework the rest.
And the most important thing: read as much as possible.