Do you write on a computer or into notebooks?
I used to find it really difficult to write my first drafts straight onto the computer. There was something too perfect about the white screen and clean black letters. It terrified me. I would write a bit and then delete it, worried that it wasn’t good enough. And then I’d end up where I started – with nothing written at all!
Then I realised I didn’t have this fear when working in my notebook, I simply wrote the story I wanted to tell and didn’t worry about going back over it to make changes, I hardly ever crossed or rubbed things out (I usually write with a pencil as it’s less stress on your hand if you are writing for long periods of time.) So for the first two books I wrote mostly into my notebooks for my first draft and then transcribed this onto the computer bit by bit, editing and changing things as I went. When starting to work on A Witch Come True I started to work straight onto the computer (for speed really) and discovered I didn’t have the fear I had before.
Do you plot your stories out in advance?
I usually write an outline – sort of like a long blurb – telling the very main plot of the story. Perhaps a couple of sides of A4. But that’s as much plotting as I do in advance, then I start writing and let the characters and story take over.
What is your favourite part of writing?
It’s actually editing! I really enjoy the point where I have a draft and start to pull it about and make it better, adding in or taking out characters, changing the plot. Also when my editor starts to make suggestions and give feedback that’s always really exciting for me, I like that the writing then becomes collaborative. And your editor looks at everything in a different way that makes you look at what you’ve done differently too.
When you start writing do you start with the beginning of the story?
No! The first part of The Apprentice Witch ended up being an early draft of what became chapter eleven, but at one point it was the middle of the book. I write the bits that are really clear in my head, that may be a scene, character or whole chapter. Then I work my way out from that point.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I steal them from my dog! Only kidding – they come from all sorts of places, reading other books, listening to the radio or reading magazines. Pieces of music, a visit to a gallery or museum or perhaps even just a view from a train window! The key is to be open to ideas so when they appear you are ready to record them or capture them somehow so when you're sat at your desk you have those ideas and thoughts to draw on.
Do you have a special writing space?
I am really lucky that I have my own writing room with all my books, a nice big desk and even a sofa – though the dog sits on it more than I do! I have a nice view over some gardens so it’s all green and trees and birds – perfect!
Do you write every day?
No, I try to and I do think about writing and stories every day, but as I still work part time it’s not possible to squeeze it all in every day of the week. Some days I might just make some notes or jot down an idea or thought and that’s fine. If I’m busy doing school visits etc and travelling, there isn’t always time to write at the end of the day. I make the most of the time I do get though!
Describe your writing day to us?
I try to keep regular hours and approach it like a day at work, so I get to my desk for 9am or 9.30 after a nice long walk with the dog. Then I’ll write until lunch time, this might involve collating notes or working out ideas not just actual writing. Then I stop for lunch and will go for another walk then (you do a LOT of sitting being a writer!) and then back to the desk until five or thereabouts. BUT I try not to write for too long a stretch, I once read that Jacqueline Wilson only writes for forty five minutes at a time and then does something else for ten minutes so she has to get up and away from her writing and walk about, so throughout the day I might do some laundry or tidy a cupboard, walk round the garden or call a friend for a chat. This helps if you get stuck too – there is no use sitting and being stuck and frustrated!