How many books have you had published?
8 for grown-ups, 3 non-fiction for teenagers, 5 novels for teenagers, 1 for children and 1 teen title coming out next year. Quite a lot, really!
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Definitely. I used to write plays for my friends to act out, all full of murder and mayhem.
Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
I started adult life as an English teacher and still teach part-time. I also broadcast and have indulged in some journalism. But writing fiction is my first love.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
1991 – A Matter of Fat – a comic novel about some women who join a slimming club
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
Yes – my route in was submitting my manuscript to a local publishers who were holding a competition – they wanted to publish their first novel. And I won! One of the best days of my life.
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
It changes – but it’s always the one that’s just come out and the one that I’m writing at the moment!
Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Hand Up! By Paul Magrs – very, very funny and clever too. If you want to know what it feels like to be possessed by a puppet, then read it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Two months planning, four months writing every day, another month or so for revisions – if its going well!
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Always a computer – anything in my own, messy handwriting looks as if it can’t be any good.
Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
I write a little every day, if I can, first thing in the morning, if not, after a nap, when my head is clear.
Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
I’m not really a group sort of person – I’m very possessive of my novels and don’t invite people into them until they’re written – except for my daughters.
Have you got an agent?
Yes – and she’s very important to me.
Why do you like writing for children?
Where do I begin? To be a child again, so I can use my imagination, so I don’t have to show off by using big words, because I think children are more honest than adults, because children and teens are more interesting than adults.
How do you get your ideas?
Like all writers, I’ve developed a sort of radar that homes in on possible sources of inspiration, the things people say, the stuff I read in the paper – then when the right idea comes along – pow! – my mind goes into overdrive, and that’s it.
Do you draw the pictures for your books?
No pictures – my readers are old enough to make up their own pictures in their heads!
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Find a child to sample your writing – in the end, being a good writer is always about putting the reader first.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I LOVE doing author visits and will go anywhere, and I’ll work with Year 5 right through to Year 13 – and adults! For details, contact me through .
Have you won any awards or Prizes?
Yes – My novel Blinded By The Light won the North East Book Award 2003
For more information on Sherry Ashworth and her books, visit her website website.