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Jon Blake

How many books have you had published?
Over 50 so far with more on the way.

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Yes, and also because it was a kind of therapy, and they said I was good at it.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
I'm a qualified teacher. I've taught at secondary school, F.E college and university, besides classes in the community. Now I just teach creative writing on working-class estates. In the past I've been a furniture salesman and worked in a few factories.

When was your first book published and what was it called?
1986. Yatesy's Rap

Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I sent off dozens of stories till someone noticed me. I got a story published and from that got an agent. After that it wasn't too hard.

Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
For young children: Daley B. It's very popular and it's just me I suppose. For juniors, probably The King Of Rock and Roll. For teens, Geoffrey's First. They're the books with the most emotion behind them. But I like the others too. Most people think I'm quite funny.

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
When I was young - The House At Pooh Corner (A.A.Milne), Professor Branestawm (Norman Hunter), and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis) - despite the fact it's about Christianity and I'm an atheist.
I particularly don't like anything by Roald Dahl.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Between a day (for a picture book) and two months or so.

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Computer - maybe some long-hand notes beforehand.

Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel like it?
I write whenever I have enough energy.

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
I love getting everything to fit and feel right - and that usually happens during rewriting.

Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
No, but if you find the right group, they can be useful.

Do you have an agent?
Sacked them a few years ago. They're useful when you're starting, but most seem to deal with too many writers.

Why do you like writing for children?
Because their minds are still open. Though I'm definitely an adult, part of me can still relate to them.

How do you get your ideas?
All over the place. But I never lose one - always write it down, and sometimes use it years later.

Do you draw the pictures for your books? If so, which comes first - the words or the pictures.
No.

What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
 Don't expect children to find you funny if adults don't.
 Don't patronise.
 You need good characters and good stories.
 Don't write anything which doesn't excite you to write.
 If you're a Tory, don't bother.

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I'll go anywhere - I've lots of experience of visiting schools.

Have you won any awards or prizes?
Shortlisted for the Childrens Book Award for Little Stupendo
Shortlisted for the Writers Guild Best Children's TV Script for Life
Pluim de Maand (Dutch) award for Daley B.

For a list of Jon Blake's books in print, visit his website .

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