How many books have you had published?
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Mainly out of school! Yes – always cooking up stories on my dad’s old German typewriter, and a magazine – Lesley’s Gazette!
Have you always earned your living as a writer?
I’ve done all sorts of casual jobs, including picking tomatoes in a market garden, which inspired ‘MapHead’
When was your first book published and what was it called?
1993 – ‘The Flower King’
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I sent off three complete manuscripts for teenage novels before I got the fourth one right!
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
MapHead, because I wouldn’t change a word.
Which is your favourite children’s book written by someone else?
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Can be up to six or seven months for first draft of a novel, then redrafting – probably up to a year.
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Do you have a writing routine or do you just write when you feel like it?
Like most writers, I have a regular routine and always write in the morning.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Hate it – but it has to be done.
Have you ever belonged to a writers’ group?
Writers’ groups are new to me – I love the company!
Do you have an agent?
Ed Jaspers at Conville & Walsh.
Why do you like writing for children?
Because of the amazing scope for imaginative work.
How do you get your ideas?
Sometimes I collect them when they pop up, and jot something down. Sometimes a big idea comes along that just has to be written. All sorts of other ideas having to do with the current of my life at the time, then enter the novel.
Do you draw the pictures for your books?
No pictures, except in my readers’ minds, I hope!
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Be sincere. Find originality in what you, and you alone, want to say.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I concentrate mainly on the South West for author visits, covering Yrs 7 – 9 at secondary school. Contact me on 01579 350026.
Have you won any awards or prizes?
Shortlisted for Whitbread Prize (The Flower King) 1993;
Winner, Guardian Children’s Fiction Award (MapHead) 1995;
Winner 9 – 11 category, Smarties Prize, 1997 (Weather Eye)
For a list of Lesley Howarth's books in print, click here