This is a brilliant interview by Samantha, who lives in New Zealand. She emailed me such interesting questions that I asked if I could put the interview up on the site.
First, of all, when did you start wanting to be an author and why?
I didn’t! I wanted to be a librarian so I could read all the time. I actually worked as an editor for children’s books, and I started writing my first book because I came up with an idea in an editorial meeting. I was supposed to suggest it to an author, but I fell in love with it myself!
What inspired you to be an author and how?
Working with all the amazing authors while I was editor – I loved the job, so much reading.
Where do you write your stories?
In the back half of our garage, which is now a tiny writing room, big enough for a large armchair and a lot of bookshelves.
Did your patience ever suffer when you were stuck in a hard bit in your story?
Often. But I also tend to have lots of books on the go at the same time in different stages, so I usually go and work on something else for a bit, and it’s amazing how a book unsticks itself when you’re not worrying at it.
Do you prefer writing 1st, 2nd or 3rd person?
I usually write in the 3rd person – but diary entries and letters are really fun to write and a great way to break up the story.
Do you plan the whole story beforehand, or does the story unfold as you write it?
I do, very carefully – but if the book is going well, new characters and ideas will just arrive. What I do then is add them to my plan, so I have an idea of where I’m going…
Where do you get your ideas from?
Lots of places – my own pets have been great for my animal stories. Newspapers, real events, stories from friends! I’m working on a book about the First World War at the moment, and a lot of the story is true, even though I’ve invented the family I’m writing about.
Are any of your stories based on real people or any experiences you have had?
I’ve written at least three books based on the stupid adventures of my cats!
What made you write for this particular age group?
I actually write for several age groups, which is great as it means lot of variety.
Who helps you the most through your journey of story writing?
Coffee. And chocolate.
What book (that you have written) is your favourite?
The one I’m working on – all the characters are in my head, and they feel real. It’s a wonderful feeling! But my first animal story, Lost in the Snow, is really special. It’s based on the memory of stories my mum and I made up. We used to tell them about our stray cat, Rosie, who turned up in my dad’s office a while before I was born.
What are the five words you love to write in your stories?
Hmmm. I’ve not been asked this before! Worryingly, I seem to use “just” and “really” far too much! (Plus too many exclamation marks!) But I love words that describe animals – if you counted words in my books, fur would probably be near the top. Squidgy is a great word too, and wodge…
Finally, do you enjoy writing or think it as a job?
Both. I work at it very hard and it’s definitely a job, but I love it.
Thank you so much, Samantha!