A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Things I wish people would ask me about my books
Once on a school visit in Germany, a boy asked me, ‘Why do you write about such perverted things?’
I’m hoping something got lost in translation there.
Generally, I love answering questions about almost any aspect of my writing. I’m not secretive or precious and I don’t mind sharing things about my working process. Partly because I’m endlessly fascinated by other peoples’. I don’t mind the (frequently asked) cheeky question – How much money do you earn from your books? because the answer is so shocking – not in a good way – that the audience always remember it.
Audiences for me are usually school groups. I talk about how I grew from an obsessive child reader and scribbler to an adult dreamer, and now, in middle age, a professional writer. Sometimes they have read at least one of my books; often they haven’t and the questions inevitably reflect that.
My most frequently asked questions – similar to most writers, I imagine – are Where do you get your ideas? (which is slightly frustrating when I know the asker hasn’t a clue what any of my ideas actually are); or the impossible Which of your books do you like best? I get asked that so often – again, by people who frequently haven’t read them, that I’ve turned it into a positive. Well, I say, pretending that such a thought has never entered my head before because you know, gosh, what an original question, I love Taking Flight because… And of course I love Grounded because … And then I go through all my books, outlining what I like best about each one, and hope, in the process to have sparked the interest of the listener.
But when they’ve read my books, then I love their questions, and I don’t mind what they are. Readers ask brilliant things; they tease out connections I haven’t considered; they focus on characters I haven’t highlighted and make me look again at things I’d almost forgotten.
My favourite audience – and I had one the other week at my Patron Of Reading School (hello, everyone in Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun) is the reading group, who’ve read a book and are bursting with ideas and opinions on it. Those readers constantly make me reflect on what I have done, and what I might do in the future. I emerge from such sessions energised, often amazed, always reminded how much this whole thing is about making connections. Between writer and reader; characters and reader; reader and writer.