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: 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.