These author interviews initiated by Alex Pearl during the Covid epidemic started as a small lockdown project. But before long, Alex’s requests for author interviews on social media elicited an overwhelming response, and the project soon took on on a life of its own.
Within these pages, authors from a wide spectrum of backgrounds wax lyrical about their backgrounds, motivations, and working methods. Among this throng, self-published newbies rub shoulders with award-winning bestsellers from all corners of the globe, including the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Israel and Sri Lanka.
They provide a fascinating insight into this mysterious process of creating imagined worlds on the page.
Huge thanks go to the 100 authors who very kindly gave their time to participate in this project, as well as their consent for their words to be reproduced here in print. They are in no particular order:
Paul Waters, Jessica Norrie, David F. Ross, Drema Drudge, Chris Chalmers, Mark Farrer, Sue Clark, Hannah Tovey, Belinda Hunt, Glynn Holloway, Mark Eklid, Julian Dutton, Christopher Bowden, Alan Gibbons, Lily Mackenzie, Ian Critchley, Jadi Campbell, Tom Atkins, Jane Risdon, Charles Harris, L. C. Tyler, Fran Hill, Malcolm Knott, Nikki Dudley, Jacqui Castle, Ron Impey, C. J. Booth, Ashok Ferrey, Jennifer Irwin, Beth Duke, Vicki Olsen, Pete Langman, Pauline Morgan, Jonathan Peace, Sandy Manning, Shelley Wilson, P. J. Roscoe, Anthony Neil Smith, A. A. Chaudhuri, Jon Richter, Carolyn Hughes, Trish Moran, Madeline Dewhurst, Jeff Pollak, Louise Fein, A. B. Kyazze, Jack Byrne, M. A. Hunter, Tessa Harris, M. J. Mallon, P. R. Black, Nina Soden, Bill Arnott, E. Chris Ambrose, Paul Kane, Sam Blake, Douglas Skelton, Louise Mumford, Philip Henry, Hazel Prior, Lauren Emily Whalen, Laura E. Goodin, Simon Van der Velde, Dr. Manuel Matas, Jane Bettany, Regina Puckett, S. G. M.Ashcroft, Michele Kwasniewski, Judy Stanigar, Robert Craven, John Darling, Pramudith D. Rupasinghe, Richard Dee, Sophy Layzell, Lorna Dounaeva, Diana Stevan, Bradley Harper, Paul Gitsham, Sion Scott-Wilson, John Dean, Liz Martinson, C. J.Carver, Tony J. Forder, Sharron L. Miller, Patrick Osborne, Peter Turnham, Jude Lennon, Anna Holmes, Chris Calder, Jane Buckley, Rachel Brimble, Gail Aldwin, Anne Coates, Ian Riddle, Christina Hamlett, James Morgan-Jones, Alison Huntingford, Gila Green, Helen Pryke, Emilya Naymark, Marcia Clayton, James L’Etoile, Edward Trayer, Mark Leichliter, Lindsay J. Sedgwick, David Liscio, Kate Reynolds
Yesterday I attended a wonderful event at Cambridge Central Library in conjunction with The Society of Childrens’ Writers and Book Illustrators: SCBWI.
I had the opportunity to hear from not one, not two, but three authors: Rosemary Hayes, Gillian McClure, and Pippa Goodhart who are all based in East Anglia and published by http://www.troikabooks.com/
Rosemary Hayes happens to be the same age as my mum and writes for young adults (11+) my preferred writing age range!
Who says we are ever too old to read, or to write YA! Never…
All of these age groups offer differing opportunities and challenges, from picture books to teens, authors have the power to capture and keep a reader’s attention.
How inspiring is that?
Gillian McClure kicked off the panel discussion by talking about her journey into writing and illustrating picture books. Her advice for picture book writers is simple: focus on seeing the world from the 2 – 6-year-old child’s point of view. Imagine what it is like to be a small person in a big world. Be aware of the things in their immediate vantage point, such as a dog on a pavement.
Begin by using a blank dummy with post-it-notes so that during the creative process you can move the words around and find their best placement.
Pay attention to pace and tone, e.g. starting and stopping to create a sense of flow. Or using two characters, one to speed up the pace and the other to slow it down. Or perhaps introduce one character to pose a question and the other to deliver an answer.
Think visually if you can and make sure that the words flow well on the page so when adults read aloud to children the experience is delightfully seamless.
For a shorter story format use minimal text and the present tense. Sometimes it is useful to use the past tense for scary scenes to bring the young reader out of the sense of immediate danger.
The ending should suggest that any underlying fears are resolved and there should be a sense of hope conveyed.
Pippa Goodhardt joined the discussion next, with her experiences of writing for MG – (7 to 9-year-olds.)
Her introduction focused on the importance of encouraging a reading habit in young children, validated by her own experience as a poor reader and writer as a child. Opportunities and the right environment can change a poor reader into an enthusiastic one, or may even encourage a poor reader to become an author as it did in Pippa’s experience.
This age group has huge potential, this is when readers are made and begin to choose their own books. There is a growing sense of independence characterised by sleepovers and the like. Characters aren’t expected to be saintly, and should be given the opportunity to explore, and have independent adventures. More serious topics can be explored, (in an imaginative and perhaps fantastical way,) but with an awareness of what is appropriate to the age of the child.
Rosemary Hayes continued the discussion with her thoughts on encouraging empathy in children and fostering reading in the teenage age group.
Twelve to fourteen-year-olds question the world around them and are sensitive and impressionable. Consider various aspects when writing for this age group e.g. Do they interact well with their peers?
Authors should be encouraged to explore more challenging, edgy content as long as this is thoughtfully done. Focus on what you care about. Be passionate, grab the readers’ attention fast or they will lose interest. Be careful about the use of language – slang and the like can become out-dated very quickly..
Don’t write down to your readers, treat them with respect, write about what inspires and intrigues you and this should in turn intrigue and inspire them.
It was such fun. I had a go at picking different noses, eyes, hair, lips, hairstyles and even ears! The hardest ones to create were undoubtedly Amelina’s mum and dad as they’re meant to look really odd. I think I succeeded up to a point, the wide eyes and stubble added the finishing touches to her dad! Ryder was tricky too as he’s meant to have two different coloured eyes so I opted for a multi-coloured eye instead.
So let me introduce you to the avatars of:
Ryder – who I couldn’t make up my mind about – should he have short hair?
Esme the mirror girl and Ilaria Miss Super Perfect.
Jade the rock chick and Joselyn the worry chick.
Amelina’s mum and dad who’ve had a rough time and it shows!
And Aunt Karissa and Kyle, because Karissa loves nothing better than the opportunity to flirt with young men! Poor Kyle, no wonder his hair is sticking up! But, he’s being polite – it’s only just a couple of protesting hairs!
Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is. Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain? In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover: How to develop a villain’s mindset A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.
These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs. If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 steps to evil today and start creating kick ass villains.
Confession time. No, it’s nothing to do with my prison record, or my descent into villainy. It’s simply this – I’m pretty lazy about reading books about writing – but Sacha Black’s 13 Steps To Evil has completely changed my mind! What a fantastic kick ass little book! I wish I’d read a copy years ago.
It’s a detailed resource, which informs and entertains in an illuminating, and humorous way. There are so many excellent examples that I am giddy with the potential for villains. The mental health section is handled with great sensitivity (one of my characters self-harms, so I read this with considerable interest,) and I was also fascinated by the detail on narcissistic personality disorder too.
Sacha’s extensive knowledge of villains prompts me to ask….. Is Sacha a secret villain? Or has she been hanging out with dodgy characters? The mind boggles. No, none of these apply… at least I don’t think so! Sacha Black has done her research, and it shows. She studied Psychology to 1st Class Degree level and thereafter completed Masters in Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology. She has also spent an exorbitant amount of time watching villainous films, (from a tender age,) and has read tonnes of books, and absorbed popular culture like a sponge. Where does this woman get her energy? I am in awe, totally star-stuck… or should I say villain struck!
My recommendation: 5 stars. Get a copy now and write a review. Share the love!
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My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.