How many books have you had published?
81! I was asked recently on a school visit and we all added it up together; that’s how I know. 64 of them are children’s fiction and the rest are books for music teachers to use.
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
I can clearly remember writing endless plays. When I was in year 6 the teacher actually let me go out of class for half an hour a day to write one particular play. And I also told my little brother never ending stories on long car journeys, to stop him feeling sick!
Have you always earned your living as a writer?
I started out teaching music and drama, and I still do that now on a very part time basis. It means I get to write and produce musicals, which I love doing.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
1995 – Get Rich Quick
It was about a boy who had big ideas for earning money, but somehow he never actually made any.
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
Yes! Getting any book – first or fifty first – published, is quite a challenge actually.
Which is your favourite of your own books?
A book called Billy Briggs, Big on Skates which I wrote to go with the music of the Moldau by Smetana. There are six books in this series and I wrote all the stories to precisely match different pieces of classical music. It was a great project to work on because it brought together the two sides of my career – writing and music – but this particular book stands out from the others for me because it’s very emotional and also because of the full colour illustrations of Gilly Marklew’s, which are absolutely amazing!
Which is your favourite children’s book written by someone else?
I love The Witches by Roald Dahl because it’s all so plausible. I like the fear factor and I still look at ladies wearing gloves with big suspicion!
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends what else is going on in my life at the same time and how many drafts I have to write. I’ve often been on two month deadlines, which is tough!
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
I used to write the first draft in long hand because I didn’t think I could be creative enough on a computer, but I’m used to it now and it doesn’t half save time!
Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel like it?
I don’t exactly have a routine, but I know that I work best first thing in the morning so I tend to launch in around 7.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
I hate starting the re-writing process, but once I’ve got through the pain barrier, I find it truly satisfying.
Have you ever belonged to a writers’ group?
Yes, ages ago, and I found it useful just to be able to read my stuff out loud. Reading out loud to other people is the equivalent of putting your make up on in a mirror with magnified glass. It shows up every blemish!
Do you have an agent?
Yes, though not till I’d written over thirty books.
Why do you like writing for children?
Something about the way my mind works, I guess!
How do you get your ideas?
Well, obviously I get them from the Ideas Factory in the outback of Australia, same as every other author. Getting there is expensive but the staff are so helpful. They ask you what you’re looking for, you say you’ve no idea, then they leave you to browse around until you find what you want.
Do you draw the pictures for your books?
Sadly the only thing I can draw is a sheep because it’s a cloud with four sticks coming out of the bottom.
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Don’t think about trying to get something published unless you’re truly interested in writing. If you do decide to try and get something published, do plenty of product research and be very self critical. Is the book that you have written as good as a children’s book you’ve just read? Read some or all of it out loud to family or friends.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I’m very happy to do author visits to schools. London and the south east are the best localities for me, though I’m prepared to travel further. I cover all primary age groups from nursery to year 6, and have books published for all those age groups. You can get hold of me at email@example.com
Have you won any awards or prizes?
I won the Music Industry Awards ‘Best New Product of 2002’ for one of my music schemes of work.
For a list of Ann's books in print visit www.annbryant.co.uk