How many books have you had published?
Seven complete books in my own name plus 15 anthologies. I also have about 100 individual stories and seven full length manuscripts awaiting a discerning publisher...
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Yes! This included parodying Milton's L'Allegro during an English lesson instead of getting on with an essay and being given a detention for such irreverence.
Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
No. Originally I wrote for BBC Radio 4 Children's programmes, mostly Listen with Mother (1972-1991). WRIGGLY WORM stories were loved by all ages and acquired quite a cult following in the '80s. I also wrote for ITV My World. This was combined with working for the NHS as an administrator and studying for an Honours degree, as a mature student and bringing up a family of three children.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
Sweet Dreams -The Bedtime Book (Ward Lock). Yucky title, chosen for the American market I was told. 30,000 copies published. Now out of print. Copyrights reverted to me. Looking to republish.
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
No. My Literary agent arranged this.
Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
Willow Pattern Story. Although this is not one of my own original stories, being an adaptation of a very adult 800 page book, I encapsulated in about 1000 words the essence of this powerful tale in what I believe to be the 'best possible words in the best possible order'. (Nelsons have reprinted this several times since its first publication in 1986). Now their licence to publish under the Story Chest imprint has ended, this title and 5 others have reverted to me.
Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame AND, within the past few weeks, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, the ease, humour and sheer imagination in these books is enviable.
How long does it take you to write a book?
How long is a piece of string? Sometimes a year, sometimes much longer.
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
No. Tip-ity-tapping on a rogue typewriter who has a mind of its own sometimes. In fact, there's a story about this in GREEN GROBBLOP AND BLOOLY AND OTHER STORIES - 'Mr. Wright and the Yellow Rypter'
Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
Sadly, I would like to have a routine but there are too many excuses to be made for not doing so. But I always meet deadlines when required to do so.
So yes, writing does get done at very odd times.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
Like it. It's like polishing a precious stone to perfection., (hopefully!).
Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?
Yes. A bit of research in order to start my own 'Creative Writing Group' and I was impressed by the latent talent found in both situations.
1. As a 'student' met two later successful comedy script writers.
2. As Tutor had such an interesting cross-section of students it was fascinating to read their work. Am still friends with former students, despite a geographical move of some 300 miles.
Have you got an agent?
Am in the process of finding a new agent. My former agent was Rosemary Bromley.
Why do you like writing for children?
To make reading fun and to develop their imagination and love of language. My first love was radio. My ambition to have my 40+ Wriggly Worm stories published as a series or one complete anthology. Apart from a couple of individual Wriggly Worm stories chosen for anthologies like the IRESON collections, Wriggly and his entourage have not yet been 'discovered' by a publisher - although the stories have been imitated.
How do you get your ideas?
Everyday happenings, people and events, then transform them with touches of magic.
For example: A newspaper report about a piano abandoned in a street overnight led to The Runaway Piano, whose escape from a junk shop was secured by a white elephant-with-only-one tusk, a team of mice and magic moonlight. Beautifully illustrated by different artists in book form and on TV,
Do you draw the pictures for your books?
Unfortunely no. Daughter of a trained artist and mother of an artist/art historian, the talent missed one generation.
What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Don't think it is easier than writing for adults. It is a profession not a pastime, so be prepared to work hard to gain acceptance in a tough market.
Be 'in tune' with your readers and never, ever, patronise them.
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
Only very rarely now and only within easy travelling distance of Gloucester. Primary school ages 7-9 years. Or Parent's groups. Contact me by phone 01452-612793 .
For a list of Eugenie Summerfield's books click here