How many books have you had published?
Around 40 counting anthologies
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Nobody wrote for fun at my grammar school! I invented board games for myself.
Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else
have you done/do you still do?
I write books, poetry, short stories, animation scripts and adaptations, give workshops and performances and do adverts and walk-on work on TV. In addition I have done on-line writing workshops and hypertext starters on trAce, the Nottingham Trent web site at www.trace.ntu.ac.uk . I became a full-time writer in 1996. Before that I was: a teacher, milkman, postman, meat production worker, seafood salesman, professional photographer and 'bouncer'. I also taught children with cerebral palsy how to swim and wrote in Spanish for Amnesty International.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
The Man With Eagle Eyes (Ginn Impact 1993)
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I tried to get three books published in the period 1981-91 and had several near misses, books in advanced stages of consideration but after winning a radio story competition in 1990 I was commissioned by Ginn to write a 'spooky' story. It was written to order. The themes from my previous books were cannibalised and turned into at least eight separate books.
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
I think that In the Shadow of the Striker has the most of me in it as it contains oblique references to a variety of situations in my life.
Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
How long does it take you to write a book?
This depends on the length of the book. The actual writing can take quite a short period of time. I spend a lot of time thinking about things.
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
I do both, depending on the availability of the computer. I handwrite over hard copy but don't find keyboards a problem.
Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel
I write every day but my pattern varies according to what else I have to do.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Almost all writing IS rewriting. I love writing. Editing i.e. looking for errors that you miss through familiarity is irksome though.
Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
I belonged to Stockport Writers Circle for many years until I left the area. They were helpful but not sycophantic. They had clear opinions and were very helpful indeed.
Do you have an agent?
No, but I have had one in the past. .
Why do you like writing for children?
I think that it is important to offer children positive templates for life. As I say in my talks 'In life, Fate often calls the shots; in stories, you call the shots'.
How do you get your ideas?
I take many ideas from my own life and experiences and I listen to others and read about their lives.
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Read a lot, love children and practise.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
Yes, I give workshops in schools mostly in the North of England to children from 7 upwards. See my website for more information, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For details of his most recent books, visit David's website and his entry in the poetry writer's section of the windows project, www.windowsproject.demon.co.uk/ancil/writers/clayton.htm