This week I was delighted to take part in Catherine Millar’s brilliant Lockdown Children’s Litfest. You can listen to her live-streamed interview with me above – be warned, it’s a rather long one, but I really enjoyed Catherine’s thoughtful questions and taking part in such a wide-ranging chat.
Do check out the Facebook page for lots more intereviews with children’s authors and illustrators, and look out for more interviews coming each week.
I had such a lot of fun celebrating World Book Day this week! I’m currently working on the Blue Peter Book Awards, which Booktrust manage, and we announced the winner’s of this years awards on the show on World Book Day. This year, Best Story was awarded to the fab The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham, and Best Book With Facts went to The Side-Splitting Book of Silly Stuff by Andy Seed and Scott Garrett. Find out more about the Awards.
One of the nicest things about the Blue Peter Book Awards is that the overall winners are voted for by over 200 children in schools around the UK, and some of them were in the studio to meet the winners. Malorie Blackman was also on the show to present the winners with their awards, and was surprised by Blue Peter’s highest accolade – the gold Blue Peter badge!
Meanwhile, back in London, I was delighted to be taking part in the World Book Day TeenFest. This event for teen readers took place on 4&5 March, and included a whole range of online activity, including hangouts, interviews, blogposts, playlists and more.
I had the chance to interview the brilliant young adult author Non Pratt for TeenFest. Here we are, trying to understand out how Google Hangout works, revealing the amazing cover for Non’s new book Remix (which publishes on the same day as The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow!) and laughing quite a lot.
The next night I was back to interview the lovely Holly Smale, author of the bestselling Geek Girl series. Here’s our Google Hangout, in which I ask Holly questions from participants including the likes of ‘What is your favourite pudding?’ and ‘Who’s your favourite Gossip Girl character?’
I enjoyed the Geek Girl glasses we wore for the video so much that I found myself wearing them the next day too… (Well, World Book Day is all about dressing up, right..?)
Throughout March, writer Fiona Robyn has been travelling from blog to blog to celebrate the publication of her first novel, The Letters, in her very own blog tour.
The Letters is the story of Violet Ackerman, who has “drifted through a career, four children and a divorce without ever knowing who she is or what she wants. After moving to the coast, she starts receiving a series of mysterious letters sent from a mother and baby home in 1959, written by a pregnant twenty-year-old Elizabeth to her best friend. Who is sending Violet these letters, and why?”
Fiona has already visited 16 other blogs as part of the tour (you can read the full list here, including where she is going next). As it’s now Day 22 I reckon she’s probably getting a little weary, so I suggested she put her feet up and then asked her a few questions:
Firstly… it’s Day 22 of your blog tour, and you’ve already visited 16 other blogs. Are you getting at all tired of answering questions about yourself and The Letters yet?
You’d think I would be, but nobody is asking the same questions! It’s really interesting how different people have approached the book in different ways, and are interested in different things…
Do you have a favourite question you’ve been asked on the tour so far?
You’ve already been asked a lot of questions about The Letters: the idea for the novel, the characters, and how it came to be written. To make a change I thought I’d ask you a few questions about the three blogs you write as well as your novels: a small stone; a handful of stones and your personal blog, planting words. How do your blogs fit in as part of your overall writing practice?
I try not to let them interfere with my novel-writing – if I’m writing, then I’ll always do that before I do anything else (including checking Facebook). a small stone usually only takes a few minutes a day, and a handful of stones maybe takes half an hour a couple of times a week. I only write Planting Words when I feel the urge, and again this can take a few minutes or up to half an hour. I do sometimes wonder if three is a bit excessive, but it’s been ok so far!
What first got you started writing blogs?
I started writing a blog called Creating Living when I was working as a coach, as a way of promoting my services. It was a little bit like Planting Words, and resulted in my book A Year of Questions: How to slow down and fall in love with life. a small stone came next.
The phrase literally arose in my mind one day when I was driving back from the sea. I was thinking about starting another blog for my poetry at the time, but I didn’t even know what it meant, and it felt a bit boring as a blog title. It was persistant, and then I happened upon the idea of picking a small stone up and carrying it home from a long walk – something little that you could save from every day.
I recently wrote a post about how much writers enjoy the actual process of writing, which provoked a bit of discussion. Is the process of writing itself something you find pleasurable?
I find parts of it pleasurable – and parts of it horrid. It’s hard to sit down and get started, especially with first drafts. I’m sometimes struck by terrible doubts. But I love reading back a sentence and thinking ‘ah, that’s a good sentence’, or finding something new out about my character. Intensely satisfying. Really, nobody is holding a gun to my head – I’m a writer because it’s supremely important to me – and things that are important aren’t necessarily fun all the time.
What inspires you? Where do you go to find inspiration when you need it?
Being outside in my garden is good for me – whatever the weather – but I do prefer sunshine! I’ve been lucky enough to wait for inspiration to find me so far, rather than going out and looking.
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve got coming up next…
The Blue Handbag is out in paperback in August, and then Thaw in February next year, both with Snowbooks. I’m currently working on a novel about a young boy that goes to stay with his aunt in Amsterdam – I’m off for a research trip this summer. What a life, eh?
And finally (just because I had to ask) do you own any red shoes?
I’m afraid I’m not much of a shoe person – black trainers is pretty much it… I do think they look nice on other people though – I’m sure yours are lovely!
Perhaps you’re just more of a handbag person, since your next book is called The Blue Handbag? Anyway, thanks very much, Fiona (for visiting and for complimenting me on my shoes!) and enjoy the rest of the tour!