10) Where do you get some imaginative ideas for your book? (Mothakin)
To be honest, ideas tend to spring at me out of nowhere – I’ve asked other authors the same thing and they all agree! It’s very rare that I get the most important ideas first, e.g. the plot, the characters – it’ll be one little moment in the book that grabs my interest. I’ll think, “That’s odd – I wonder what happens in the book to make that scene happen?” and I’ll end up building a book around it.
A good tip: I’ve spent the last few years carrying a little notebook around with me wherever I go. The second I get an idea – usually it’s on a train or a bus – I scribble it down so I don’t forget it. SPACE TORTOISE started this way – so did my next novel, MAX & THE MILLIONS, which is out next March, and so did my next book – a book of short horror stories set at Christmas called CHRISTMAS DINNER OF SOULS!
11) Have you experienced a storm like in the books? (Caitlin)
I am absolutely, utterly petrified of the sea, so thankfully I’ve never been on the ocean when a storm has hit! In fact I’ve only been on a boat a few times – it’s OK if it’s a big boat like a ferry as you tend to not feel the waves as much, but when you’re on a small boat even small waves are utterly terrifying!
12) What inspired you to write a sci-fi type book? (Kayleigh and Charlie J)
I’m not sure – I always say that I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but one of my friends (who is a BIG sci-fi fan) says that I am and I just don’t realise it!
I got the idea for PERIJEE & ME when I was walking through a park near where I teach, feeling worried because my publisher wanted me to come up with some new ideas. I saw a man lying on the ground: he was a typical London businessman, just like all the others in the park – pinstripe suit, black shoes, briefcase – but he was lying straight as a plank and flat on his face! It looked like he’d been dropped from a great height and was trying to copy everything around him in this very strange way – which got me onto thinking about him as an alien who wanted to be like a human, but didn’t know how to do it. I immediately started thinking about a girl discovering a shape-shifting alien and began making my idea – after I’d checked the businessman was OK, of course!
I think when I came up with the idea, I didn’t want to do a sci-fi book – I just found the idea interesting. Of course, when you finish reading PERIJEE & ME, you may find there are a few unexpected surprises…
13) What is your favourite book genre? (Evelyn)
I tend to read lots of different genres – for me, it’s not so much the style of the book as the person writing it! As long as the writer catches my attention, then I don’t care if it’s a book about the history of trumpets or a novel about love. For example, I’ve never really liked Fantasy books, but I’ve always LOVED Terry Pratchett – you may know him as the writer of TRUCKERS, DIGGERS and WINGS, but he also wrote over 40 books about a place called the Discworld which were my favourite books when I was younger. They’re hilarious and beautiful and unbelievably clever!
14) What is your favourite book ever? (Alfie)
Oooooh, this is such a hard question! I don’t know if I could choose a single one – there are a handful of books that I absolutely love and recommend to everyone. For you guys, I would definitely recommend a book called HOLES by Louis Sachar. I don’t know another children’s book like it – if I could write anything as good as this I’d be a very happy man! Read the blurb and see what you think: http://www.louissachar.com/holes.html
15) Do you know anyone with Dyslexia? William
Lots! When I was at secondary school about fifteen years ago, people were beginning to realise that dyslexia was a lot more common that everyone had thought – lots of my friends were being diagnosed and up until then they’d had no idea why they had always struggled to read and write at the same speed as everyone else. There was a big change in how people talked about it – my friends finally realised they weren’t “stupid” or “slow”, they just needed a few tricks and tools to help them get their work done.
As a teacher, I work with a lot of children who have dyslexia too – one of the nicest things I’ve seen change since I was a child is that it’s no longer seen as a child having a “problem”, which is what it used to be like. Now the children I teach are aware that they need a little more help and take charge of it themselves – asking if they can sit closer to the board, sounding out words and using spellcheck on the computer to help them out etc. The only problem is when children like Caitlin are undiagnosed and have no help in place to let them do the best they can, which seems hugely unfair. There are many famous and highly successful people who are dyslexic, including Albert Einstein – here’s a small list of just a few! http://www.dyslexiaonline.com/basics/famous_dyslexics.html