Author Interview: Kieran Larwood

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.

Find out more about Kieran by visiting his website and following him on Twitter.

Author Interview: Pat Walsh

Pat Walsh, author of The Crowfield Curse and The Crowfield Demon, answered some of my questions.

Here are her responses:

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

There were so many, it’s hard to narrow it down. One of my most favourite authors was Tove Jansson, who wrote the wonderful Moomintroll books. I still love them today. I loved the Narnia books (C.S. Lewis) and anything by Robert Westall, Alan Garner and Susan Cooper.

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

The Crowfield Demon and The Crowfield Curse were quite easy to write. I knew what I wanted to say and planned the story out in advance. I have written other books, and am writing a new book at the moment which is not going as well as I would like it to. Finding the right ‘voice’ for the main character has been difficult and I’ve started the book from scratch five times so far! I think I have found my way into the story now, so hopefully there will be no more problems.

Which of your characters is most like you?

None of them is ‘me’, but there is a little bit of me in several of them. William and Brother Snail’s love of animals and the natural world is something we all share. I think my cooking can be as bad as Brother Martin’s from time to time, though I haven’t yet served up Rook Pie to my family. There’s still time, though.

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

I usually start with a couple of ideas or images, such as the hob caught in a trap and an angel buried in the snow in The Crowfield Curse. I write a plan to get me started, but usually go off at a tangent and let the story develop in its own way. Sometimes I end up going in completely the wrong direction and have to scrap a chapter or two and go away to think about what needs to happen next. It all works out in the end, though.

Where do you write your books?

Anywhere and everywhere! I have a study at home, but I like to write in a local coffee shop and in the cafe at the nearby garden centre. I write on trains, buses, planes. I used to live in Norway, and spent a long time in a nearby airport, in the coffee lounge overlooking the runway. I wrote a whole book there and got to watch the Norwegian Air Force doing exercises on a daily basis. Great fun!

Why do you enjoy writing for children?

I love writing for children because they have such wonderful imaginations. They accept ideas and characters that a lot of adult readers would not. Children are more open to the strange and the fantastic. They know what they like and are tough critics, so I have to constantly strive to write to the highest possible standard I can manage.

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

First of all, to be a good writer, you have to read, read and read! You will  get a feel for words, how they are used, the ideas they can convey. And then, you should write as often as you can; try for a little everyday.

Don’t copy books or writers you enjoy reading, but try and find your own way of saying things and telling a story. Don’t try to be the next J.K. Rowling, be the first you! Tell the stories inside you – and most of all, enjoy your writing.

Many thanks to Pat for taking the time to contribute to The Book Base.

Find out more about her and her books by visiting her website.

Author Interview: Philip Reeve

Philip Reeve, the author of the brilliant Mortal Engines Quartet (Mortal Engines, Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain), kindly agreed to answer some questions for The Book Base.

Here are his responses:

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

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Owl Service by Alan Garner, Asterix and Tin Tin, the Molesworth books…

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

Fever Crumb, because it’s a prequel to earlier books and I had to touch on some of the same storyline without just repeating things that readers already knew, while still keeping it accessible to new readers.

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

I start out with a few vague ideas and make it up as I go along, than go back over it and re-write once the story has developed.

Where do you write your books?

Mostly at home, though bits have been written on trains, in cafes, etc.

Why do you enjoy writing for children?

I enjoy writing, and I imagine writing for adults would be just as enjoyable. Writing for children gives one a certain freedom, I suppose: they may accept strange ideas more easily than adults.

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

When you finish the story that you are writing, go back to the beginning and write it again, better!

Many thanks to Philip Reeve for taking the time to contribute to The Book Base.

Find out more about his books by visting his website and following him on Twitter.