A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

The Best Thing About Being a Writer… By Mo O’Hara

Hmmm…. Ok, I’m going to be a little more specific and talk about ‘The Best Thing About Being a Writer – For Kids.’


For me there is a big difference.

I started writing because I got an acting job as a touring storyteller and I wanted to expand my repertoire of stories so I wrote some of my own. My first experience of writing was writing for children and it was for performance – both of which influence my perception of the perks of writing now.

Firstly, I liked working with kids. (Still do) I liked their energy, their humour and their ability to not sensor what they are going to say.


Secondly, I liked writing for performance. Your reward is immediate.

You write a high tension moment and you hear the sharp intake of breath from your audience.

You write a scary bit and you hear a squeal ( sometimes followed by a little dribble on their seats in audiences of tiny kids).


You write a joke and you get a laugh.

I think I have a short attention span myself so I liked the way this quid pro quo of writing worked.

Then I started writing comedy for adults. I got the same buzz when I got a genuine laugh, but not so much from the knowing ‘oh I see how that relates to the article in the Guardian this week, how clever and topical’ titter that we also got from adults.

Then I started writing for children’s books and my quid pro quo system of writing effort and writing reward went right out the window.

There is a long time in between when you sit in your room and write the joke and when a child anywhere in the universe ever reads it.

I call that period, somewhat melodramatically, ‘The Dark Expanse of Time!’


That ‘Dark Expanse of Time’ is hardest for me as a writer. It feels unnatural not to know the result of my writing. It’s like my book isn’t a real book until I hear the first laugh.

The reward is delayed but oh boy, when it comes, it is worth it.

The best thing about being a writer for kids, for me, is actually going out and meeting the kids who’ve read your books or may want to read your books. There is no feeling on the planet like it when a kid says…

‘I never finished a real book before but I read the whole thing of yours. Right to the end!’

‘I read your book and then I wrote my own story. You want to read it? ‘

Or when the kid just has an expression like this…


So, in a nutshell the best thing about being a writer for kids is getting to see those kids’ faces, hear those kids’ laughs, and get that buzz that I first felt as a storyteller all over again.

And it’s even better than the performance buzz in a way, because I know that a kid way out in Alaska or Australia can read my book and laugh (hopefully) even though I may never get to those places to meet them.

It’s like taking the laugh from the kid I meet in South London and echoing it all over.

The reward is definitely worth going through the ‘Dark Expanse of Time’ over and over again if at the end of that dark tunnel this smile is waiting for me.


Mo’s book for 7+, “My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish” is published with Macmillan in Feb 2013 in the UK and in July 2013 in the US. Her second book in that series( My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish The Sea-Quel) will come out in July 2013 in the UK and in winter 2013 in the US. She also wrote six books in the Ladybird series “Puddle the Naughtiest Puppy.” Mo worked as an actress and as a storyteller, touring theatres and schools all across the UK and Ireland. As well as her stories for children Mo has also writen for radio and theatre and has performed her own comedy material in London and Edinburgh.


This entry was posted on September 22, 2014 by .

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