How many books have you had published?
Thirty two, of which 28 are still in print. I have another one coming out in the autumn for Barrington Stoke (Looking for Billie), one for Piccadilly Press in September (What a Week to take a Chance) and a major one coming out in the USA and UK in early 2005 – Secrets of Love.
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Yes – I loved writing and hated maths! I wrote for the school magazine, and also stories for my friends when I was in junior school.
Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else
have you done/do you still do?
I was a feature writer on a regional daily for some years before becoming an author. I am also a school Governor of Unity College (the local Church of England Secondary School) and a Reader in the Church of England.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
It was called Staying Cool, Surviving School and was published by Piccadilly Press in 1993.
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
I sent it to about ten publishers and they all said nice things about it – and rejected it! Then one day Brenda Gardner of Piccadilly Press telephoned to say that she liked the book and provided I was prepared to make some changes, she would publish it. I screeched with joy – I don’t think her eardrums have recovered to this day!
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
Last Seen Wearing Trainers, published by Andersen Press, is one of my all time favourites – partly because it was the first time I had attempted a thriller and partly because I love all four of the main characters – even Joe! It deals with the issues of feeling abandoned, of wanting revenge, of misunderstanding the motives of those close to you – and of being different. (One of the main characters is an autistic ten year old boy).
Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Now that’s a difficult one – there are so many brilliant writers out there. Can I choose 3? They would be Adele Geras’s Silent Snow, Secret Snow, The Shell House by Linda Newbery and – an oldie this one – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
How long does it take you to write a book?
The actual writing takes between 6 and 8 weeks (although Secrets of Love, which is an up to date, fast paced version of Sense and Sensibility took 12 weeks). The thinking, mulling, stamping of feet, biting of fingernails and pouring of large glasses of Pinot Noir takes another 2!
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
Until now, I have always written straight onto a computer. However, I am about to embark on a book I have dreamed of writing for years – and I’m doing it without being commissioned. I’ll write it first, sell it later (I hope!). And this time, I am trying to do a lot of in long hand, so that I can write wherever I am researching – which will be all over the place – and not have to lug a laptop around with me. Whether this new approach will work or not remains to be seen.
Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
? I have to have a routine because I’m tremendously good at finding excuses to do anything other than sit and write! So I try to do four hours a day minimum – and of course that includes research (like researching the contents of the fridge, the latest Sale items at my favourite stores….)
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Hate it, loathe it with a passion!! I don’t mind rewriting bits before I send the ms to the publisher, but when they telephone with picky little changes or don’t get what I’m trying to say, I get really miffed and eat a lot of chocolate and vow never ever to write again.
Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
No I haven’t.
Have you got an agent?
Yes, the marvellous, patient, long-suffering, Jane Judd. She’s a treasure.
Why do you like writing for children?
Because they are open to fresh ideas, because they are experiencing so many new emotions and challenges, because they are such fun.
How do you get your ideas?
Eavesdropping on trains, snippets in newspapers, hints dropped by publishers, requests from children I meet on school visits, questions I ask myself and then need answers to….
Do you draw the pictures for your
No, I can’t draw – even my grandchildren laugh at my attempts.
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Do it! Don’t talk about it, think about it, worry about it. Just write.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
Yes, I love doing school visits although these days I don’t like to travel long distances in the winter months. So summer time I’ll go practically anywhere; winter I prefer to stick to Midlands, East Midlands (anywhere served by Midland Mainline trains), London and the Home Counties. You can contact me via my website.
Have you won any awards or prizes?
Yes – Stockport Book Award for Key Stage 3 in 2003 with Last Seen Wearing Trainers and runner up in the North Eastern Book Award 2002 with Tell Me I'm OK Really.
You can find out more about Rosie Rushton's books, visit her website.