Thursday, 18 September 2014

'Answers are easy. It's asking the right questions which is hard.'

For my second Patron blog I thought I'd take a few of the most common questions I'm asked on school visits and round up my answers - which are usually consistent...

How long have you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember. For me, reading and writing were two sides of the same coin. I was aware from a very young age that the books I got out of the library had a name on the front, and that this name was 'the writer'. I wanted to be this person who got to tell stories, and so I started creating quite derivative sci-fi adventures - for example, my comic strip featuring The Computo-Mice!

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Who is your favourite Doctor/ companion/ alien?
Predictable, but I have to answer Tom Baker (the fourth Doctor), and Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elisabeth Sladen)... The Cybermen, when they are used well, are a very creepy idea as they are what the human race could become! They are much more than just 'monsters'. I do also have a soft spot for Sylvester McCoy and Ace, and I think Morbius was a wonderful villain too.

What's your favourite Doctor Who story?
It's really hard to pick an overall favourite, as it changes all the time. So it's probably fairest to pick a favourite from each decade, which I can just about do. (It's too soon to choose a Peter Capaldi story - ask me again at Christmas!)

1960s - The Web of Fear
1970s - City of Death
1980s - Castrovalva
1990s - The New Adventures series (all of them!)
2000s - Blink
2010s - The Day of the Doctor (so far...)

What was your favourite book when you were growing up?
Probably The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Are you rich?
The easy answer is that very few writers are what you'd call 'rich'. (Although, actually, what do you call 'rich'? A thousand pounds may seem like a lot to some people. It certainly seemed a lot to me when I was 11! But it doesn't go very far when you are an adult.) But the slightly more evasive - and more true - answer is that there are many ways of being rich, and not all of them involve money. What about richness of experience, of imagination, of freedom?

Which football team do you support?
England United. Don't ask me to explain the offside rule.

What car do you drive?
I don't.

How long does it take to write a book? 
It can take anything from a number of weeks to a number of years. Some writers are very efficient and get a book out every year. Some take ten years between books (and presumably have other occupations in between). Each book finds its own rhythm - and it is never 'finished' when you think it is.

How do you make a book?
Writers sit down at their computers - or typewriters - and make up stories. They send them off when they think they are finished. Don't worry about the rest of it - the physical process of making it into a book - as that generally doesn't have anything to do with you as a writer.

Do you decide on the cover?
You can have some input, but it's usually decided on by the publisher. Covers are very often done by a freelance artist, i.e. someone who works for him/herself like the writer.

What's your favourite of your books?
The next one!

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