How many books have you had published?
About fourty so far... These are a mixture of Picture Books, Early Readers, Rhyming Stories and Educational Reader Books (perhaps you have some in your school.) Early next year I will have my first books for slightly older readers published (Robo-runners) - which I'm very excited about. .
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Not really – it all seemed like hard work and was never much fun. The only time I remember actually enjoying writing a story was when I was in primary school. The story was about a polar bear and a penguin sailing around on an iceberg.
Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
No… because my family insist on having food to eat every day I have to fit my writing in around school visits (which are great fun) and a part time office job (which isn’t great fun). Hopefully I’ll be able to leave the office job at some time in the future and concentrate on the writing and school visits. I’ve also worked as a lifeguard, a swimming teacher, a shop assistant and a painter and decorator.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
The first book that a publisher agreed to publish was Snail’s Legs – but this won’t be out until 2005. The first thing I actually had published was a poem called Football’s Getting Daft (In John Foster’s collection – Mum Put Me On The Transfer List), and an educational reader book called Presto’s New Pet (illustrated by Korky Paul – published by Rigby)
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I spent a long time writing stories and sending them to publishers before finally getting something accepted. It’s a long, slow process but it’s not as hard as breaking rocks or digging big holes.
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
My favourite book is usually the one I’m working on right now – but of the one’s I’ve written, my favourite is Snail’s Legs (This will hopefully be published in 2005 – and is being illustrated by the wonderful Korky Paul) Knowing that there was interest in this story gave me the confidence to keep going and write more.
Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
There are so many to choose from but I think my all time favourite is “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak – It’s a perfect picture book and one that I remember having read to me when I was very young.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Because the stories I write are quite short, the actual writing doesn’t take very long. It’s the weeks of thinking and playing around with ideas and rewriting that takes the time. Thinking like this… some stories can take a few hours and others can take a few years.
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Ideas can come along at any time so I start off by scribbling notes with a pencil. (But this is only because my computer is heavy and the wires are too short for me to carry it around everywhere)
Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
Most of my writing is done at night or very early in the morning… but I’m always thinking of things and running ideas around in my mind.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
I love it because there aren’t very many words in my stories, so every word is important. Most of my writing time is spent rewriting and playing around with the words so that hopefully I can get it just right.
Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
I’ve never belonged to a formal writing group but I now have a lot of writer friends in a group called the Scattered Author’s Society.
Have you got an agent?
Yes - my agent is Anne Finnis (see my website for contact details). However, I sold my first books before having an agent.
How do you get your ideas?
This is always a difficult question because ideas come from so many different places… they are generally sparked off by things that you see or hear. Getting the ideas is easy - It’s what you do with them that’s important. I have a few methods of generating ideas if I get stuck or if I have to write about a specific topic… I talk about these when I visit schools.
Do you draw the pictures for your books?
It takes me an incredibly long time to draw anything that doesn’t make me cringe – so no.
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write.
I think that one of the most important things is to actually start writing. Don’t sit around saying that you want to do it – DO IT… and don’t give up.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I enjoy visiting schools and libraries etc – anywhere in the country – for children from nursery up to year six. Please contact me via my website.
You can find out more about Damian Harvey's books on his website.