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Roy Apps

How many books have you had published?
Thirty five. I also write television comedy and drama, such as The Ghost Hunter, Barmy Aunt Boomerang and Byker Grove.

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
No! Although I was a good reader at school, I found the actual process of writing very difficult. I couldn’t hold a pen properly.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?

Jobs I have done: farm worker, clerk in tax office, cleaner, care assistant, gardener, teacher, youth club leader, radio producer

When was your first book published and what was it called?
1990 -Time Spinner

Was it difficult to get your first book published?
No- Time Spinner was based on a BBC School Radio play I had written, so it was already there as a story.

Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
Hang on a moment...if I name one book as being my favourite, you’re going to think ‘he doesn’t rate his other books then.’ Books are to authors what sons and daughters are to their parents -they’re our children! So all my books are my favourites...although Time Spinner is a bit special because it was the very first and The Secret Summer of Daniel Lyons did get me an Award and How to Handle your Brothers and Sisters was the Best Selling Children’s Non-Fiction title of 1998....

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Two Weeks With the Queen by Morris Gleitzman.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Sometimes years. But once I’ve got a story sorted and know where I think it’s going, I’ll usually spend between a month and three months on it, depending on how long it is and how stuck I get.

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Computer. I can’t read my hand writing.

Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
I find staring at a blank screen which has got to be filled with wonderfully witty, funny, exciting stories so terrifying, I have to have a routine, otherwise I‘d never write anything. I tend to work during the day, like a person with a proper job, but if the deadlines are looming I do sometimes toil into the night.

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Yes. If I’ve suddenly realised where I’ve been going wrong or have a brilliant idea for a bit I’ve lef t out, I LOVE it. If it's going back over a wonderful story and realising that perhaps it's not quite so wonderful after all... I HATE it!

Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
When I was starting out, I belonged to a group in London called Player-Playwrights. We acted out each others’ plays and said what we thought about them. It was a helpful experience, though very bad for the nerves -both mine and the audience’s.

Have you got an agent?
For my TV, radio and stage play, yes. For my books, no.

Why do you like writing for children?
Children’s books are shorter! The themes that are central to my books -the nature of friendship, growing up, being true to yourself- are things of particular concern to younger readers. And, it’s a much better way of keeping young than dying your hair, or having a face lift.

How do you get your ideas?
Every Sunday morning I go down to the Retail park and get a couple of bags of them from a shop called ‘Ideas R Us’... Actually I go around looking and listening for things that might be good material for a story. The problem writers have is not getting ideas, but sorting out the good ones and chucking away the rubbish.

Do you draw the pictures for your books?
No! I can’t draw. But I have had the good fortune to work with some of Britain ’s best illustrators on my books. People like Susan Varley, Alan Marks and Nick Sharratt

What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Is there part of you that can still feel what it was like to be 5, 7 or 11?

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I usually visit places I can travel to and back in a day from my home in Brighton. I do a 45-60 minute show called The Shed in Your Head , which is about the magic of stories and where they come from, why they are important and how a writer goes about making them come alive. Phew! I can also talk about the meaning of life and how to get the top off a yoghurt pot without getting messy. What I cannot do is to teach children to write stories, help them to get through SAT’s, or explain what a phoneme is.
I can be contacted at royapps@royapps.co.uk.
My website address is www.royapps.co.uk

Have you won any awards or prizes?
I’ve won The Writer’s Guild Children’s Book of the Year Award.
I’ve been shortlisted for The Whitbread Children’s Books of the Year and The Nottinghamshire Children’s Book of the Year

For a list of Roy Apps' books, click here to visit his website

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