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Malorie Blackman

How many books have you had published?
Fifty plus.

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Yes, I did. And luckily I had a very understanding teacher who didn’t tell me off for using up the paper in my English Workbooks. I used to write stories and poems.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
I’ve been a full time writer of books and scripts since 2 November 1990 (ah yes, I remember it well!) Before that, I was a Database Manager, a Project Manager, a Systems Programmer, a Software Specialist, I worked in British Home Stories and Littlewoods as a Saturday Girl, I’ve worked as a Catering Assistant and a telephonist/receptionist/typist. The worst job I ever had was working as a kitchen porter. I lasted a day and a half.

When was your first book published and what was it called?
My first book was called Not So Stupid! A collection of horror and science fiction short stories which was published by Livewire Books for Teenagers, an imprint of The Women’s Press. The book came out in November 1990.

Was it difficult to get your first book published?
It took me two years and rejection letter after rejection letter to get my first book published. Lucky I’m so determined/obstinate/stubborn.

Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
Noughts and Crosses is my favourite of all the books I’ve written so far because what came out on paper was closest to what I had in my head. It wasn’t exactly what I had in my mind but it was closer than most of my other books.

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
When I was a child I loved The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. When I was eleven my favourite book was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends what kind of book it is. Picture books usually take about a week to write the initial idea. Novels can take anything up to a year.

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
If I’m at home it’s straight onto a computer but basically I use what’s available. I always edit my work on paper first though, not on screen. For some reason I can’t quite get the flow of a story I’ve written if I try to rework it on screen without seeing how it looks on paper first.

Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel like it?
Write when I feel like it? You’re having a laugh there! I try to write every day. This is a job (albeit a job I love), not a hobby!

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
It’s one of those things that has to be done. I find it frustrating when I’m dying to move onto the next thing but I just have to get on with it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my own work so I really don’t want to send it out whilst I know there are things I can do to make it better.

Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
When I first started writing I attending a Writing for Children basic course run by Elizabeth Hawkins at the City Lit in Drury Lane, London. I then attended Elizabeth’s Writing for Children Workshop for a number of years. It was invaluable. A great, supportive atmosphere where you could present your own work and listen to the work of others. And it was a great place to try to hone my own critical skills. To cut a long story short (too late!), yes it did help.

Do you have an agent?
Yes, I do. Hilary Delamere at The Agency (UK) Ltd.

Why do you like writing for children?
Because children are a discerning audience whose minds haven’t yet been closed down. And I like the way children are honest about what they like and don’t like.

How do you get your ideas?
From anywhere and everywhere. It’s a matter of keeping your senses alert and your mind open.

Do you draw the pictures for your books?
I can’t draw. I wish I could.

What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Read, read, read. Then write about what interests you, not what you think might make money. Find your own style, don’t copy anyone else and don’t give up.

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I’m willing to go to most places in the country with enough notice. The majority of my school visits do tend to be within school run time as I have a daughter of my own to drop off and pick up. I can be contacted via Jubilee Books , via my publishers Random House or via my website .

Have you won any awards or prizes?

Fantastic Fiction Award 2004 - Noughts and Crosses

BBC Big Read Top 100 Title (Number 61) - Noughts and Crosses

Wirral Children’s Paperback of the Year Award 2003 - Noughts and Crosses

FCBG Children’s Book Award 2002 - Noughts and Crosses

Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year Award 2002 - Noughts and Crosses

Sheffield Children’s Book of the Year Award 2002 - Noughts and Crosses

Stockport Children’s Book of the Year Award 2000 - Key Stage 4 - Tell me no lies

BAFTA for the Best Children’s Drama 2000 - Pig-Heart Boy

Wirral Children’s Paperback of the Year Award 1999 - Pig-Heart Boy

UKRA Award Winner 1998 - Pig-Heart Boy

Stockport Children’s Book of the Year Award 1997- Key Stage 3 - Antidote (Doubleday/Yearling)

Excelle/Write Thing Children’s Author of the Year Award 1997

Young Telegraph/Fully Booked Children’s Book of the Year Award 1996 - Thief!

W H Smith’s Mind Boggling Book Award 1994 - Hacker

Young Telegraph/Gimme 5 Children’s Book of the Year Award 1994 - Hacker

You can find out more about Malorie Blackman and her books on her website

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