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Sally Hewitt

How many books have you had published?
Over 100 now. That's because non-fiction books are usually published as a series, so one contract will probably involve 4 to 6 books.

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
I used to draw, paint and make models out of junk at the kitchen table and put on puppet shows for my little brother and sister. Not surprisingly, my first book was a book of craft activities.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
I started my working life as an infant teacher. Writing activity and information books for young children was a natural progression. I find myself drawing on many of the same skills.

When was your first book published and what was it called?
My first book was called Busy Little Artist. Since then, to my family, I've been Busy Little ...whatever it is I'm doing!

Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I thought I was going to write fiction - but the mother of one of my pupils, an editor, knew I wanted to write and asked me to submit ideas for Busy Little Artist. They were accepted and my career as a non-fiction writer began.

Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
I'm proud of It's Science! There are 18 books in this series and I enjoyed writing them all.

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
My father used to fall off the end of the bed with laughter reading aloud from Richmal Crompton's Just William - a very happy memory which makes it a special book.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Once the concept of a book has been established and the research finished, the writing can be done quickly.

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Computer. Touch typing was one of the most useful skills I every learnt.

Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel like it?
Deadlines have a way of establishing their own discipline. When I've finished a piece of work, I often play around with ideas or write stories. I try to do some writing most days.

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Writing just a few words to convey a complex idea is a challenge. I rarely get it exactly right first time, but it's satisfying when I do.

Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
No, but I keep in touch with other writer friends and share ideas and advice. Writing can be quite isolating .

Do you have an agent?
No. One book led to another ...

Why do you like writing for children?
Seeing children fully engaged and excited by books is magic. Writing books for children is a dream come true.

How do you get your ideas?
For non-fiction, I keep up to date with what is going on in schools and talk to children. I go to museums, galleries, watch TV and films - and just generally keep alert!

Do you draw the pictures for your books? If so, which comes first - the words or the pictures.
I don't illustrate my own books, but I often give detailed picture suggestions to an illustrator or specify photographs. The pictures usually have a lot of work to do.

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I do author visits, usually to primary schools. I have been to secondary schools when they are working on a project related to children's books. I talk about the making of a non-fiction book from beginning to end and use my books with the children, getting them involved with the games and activities. I live in London and have stayed overnight on several occasions for author visits. A day's trip is more usual.

You can contact me by email at sallyhewitt@blueyonder.co.uk

For a list of Sally Hewitt's books in print  click here

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