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Judy Waite

How many books have you had published?
20 books, two short stories and three poems. A further 3 titles are due for
publication in 2001, and I'm working on another five projects at the moment.

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
At school English was my  favourite subject - I probably liked it even more than playtime! I particularly liked essay writing.  I always wrote pages and pages - I didn't care what the subject was.  I wrote at home too.  My Mum's still got some (fairly embarrassing) books, comics and anthologies that I did.  I can still remember sitting on my bedroom floor, cutting up pictures or designing covers to go with them.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?
I've worked a lot with children.  I've been 'job sharing' for the last five years, working afternoons in a Junior School.  It's great - firstly because I love the work I do and secondly because the children I work with keep inspiring me with new ideas for writing stories.  The world is changing so fast and children are having to change with it.  I need to be around children to help me keep pace with what their lives are really like.

When was your first book published and what was it called?
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
It wasn't really difficult to get published - the hard bit was the initial writing without knowing whether I was any good or not.  I wrote comic stories at first - that was back in 1992.  My daughters were young then and it was just about all I had time for.  In those days I didn't even have a computer - just a second hand typewriter that I'd got from a junk shop.  It used to take me ages to get anything done -particularly as I had never learnt to type before either.  In 1995 I won a couple of writing competitions and after that I grew more confident about what I was doing.  We splashed out and got a 'family' computer and when everyone was in bed I had a go at writing picture book stories.  I had a few rejections with my first ideas but then, in 1996, both 'The Storm Seal' and 'Mouse Look Out' got accepted by a publisher on the same day!  Everything's just gone on from there... 

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?
Its hard for me to choose a  favourite book by another author - there's so much good stuff around.  I love  Roald  Dahl - especially the  BFG and I'm also a big fan of Anne Fine because she seems to me to really tap into the ways children think and feel today.

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
I don't have any hard rules about the way I write   Some days I write long hand, some days I bash it all out on the computerIt depends on my mood, who else is in the house, what chair I feel like sitting in, whether the month has an R in it -all things like that

Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it? 
I would feel scared that, if I set myself too many rules, I might begin to limit myself.  I mean if I decided that I could  only write while I was sitting in a black chair in a yellow room, how would I get on if ever I found myself marooned on a desert island...

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
I don't mind re-writing.  It's getting the new ideas down which is the scary bit.  Once I'm into the re-writing I feel safe.  I don't have such a sense of panic.  It's easier to be interrupted or to choose to stop what I'm doing in order to rush off and do something else for a while.  I think my children prefer the re-writing phase too - they don't get so many burnt dinners!

Have you got an agent?
I've got an agent and I'm really glad she's there.  She takes all the worry out of the 'grown up' things like contracts and money.

Why do you like writing for children?
I mainly like writing for children because I like children.  I like talking to them and being around them and I suppose, in a way, writing for them is just an extension of that.

Do you draw the pictures for your books?
.I don't do the illustrations for my picture books but I do visualise them as I'm writing them.  Being able to imagine them visually helps me to decide on the text and consequently, the whole story is affected.

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I do lots of author's visits and really enjoy them.  I love it when something I say or do gets children buzzing with ideas of their own or when they send me stories they have written themselves later.  I also teach creative writing within adult education, and I run workshops for children and adults.You can contact me at jwaite@wordpool.co.uk 

Have you won any prizes or awards?
Mouse Look Out
won the English Association Best Children's picture book for 1998, and also the Florida Reading Association Children's book Award for 1999-2000.

To find out more about Judy Waite and her books, visit her website.

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