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

Poultry ideas…

So this week’s Author Allsorts’ question is where do you get your ideas…?

My answer probably starts here…



…with a picture of a chicken.

It was the way we did creative writing with favourite-ever-teacher Mrs Shone back when. She’d give us a picture and tell us to write anything. Absolutely anything. No rules. No boundaries. It was the start of something beautiful for me (before school turned prescriptive), as well as a story about a chicken who tries all kinds of ways to escape her battery farm (Chicken Run: I got there first).

Decades later, it’s still the small things that can set me off best. Another picture, or a stranger on a train, or a past feeling I can’t shake off. A lamb with a limp, a criticism from a friend, or a coffee stain on a tablecloth. Anything, everything, can spawn a story if you let it.

Of course now and again I do like to act all proper-like-writer in the library, poring big, musty-scented books for story ideas (as well as the smell), surrounded by other book loving people (my favourite kind). But all roads lead back to that picture of a chicken. Because my best ideas – or rather the ideas that work best for me – always seem to spring from small things.

Over time, I’ve come to the reckoning that you can’t force an idea. There are stories already within us, drawn from experiences and tragedy and illness and love and regret and anger and longing. What we need is the idea, that simple idea to spark alight the route to one of those stories…the key if you like, that opens the door to what’s already burning inside. The key that can come from watching strangers, and eavesdropping on conversations, from a shared secret or a piece of history, from a solitary walk or an emotional moment, or through one rather splendid picture of a chicken…


One comment on “Poultry ideas…

  1. villarhauser
    April 6, 2015

    This is one of the most common questions that seems to come up on author visits to school. Great answer!!

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2015 by .

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