How many books have you had published?
Jesse Jameson and the Golden Glow (May 2003) hardback and paperback
Jesse Jameson and the Bogie Beast (Oct 2003) hardback and paperback
Jesse Jameson and the Curse of Caldazar (scheduled for May 2004) hardback and paperback
Did you write for fun when you were at school?
Yes. Some very odd things, as I recall. One became a school
playground legend. It began … ‘I smelt
a smell I had never smelt before, down in the cellar where the dustbins rattle.’ I told you it was odd! Still,
I was just eight years old, and obviously into repetition.
Have you always earned your living as a writer?
I combine primary school teaching with my writing, which is very demanding on time. But I love doing both, so what
choice do I have? My wife is very happy on two accounts: one, I’m out of her hair! Two, she gets to spend,
spend, spend because I’m so busy. Just joking. We are deeply in love and have two wonderful boys aged ten
and three respectively.
When was your first book published and what was it called?
Jesse Jameson and the Golden Glow (May 2003), but my first article on the anti-slavery campaigner, Thomas
Clarkson, was the first thing ever published in 1985. I have written many articles for trade magazines over the years,
and I still dabble.
Was it difficult to get your first book published?
Yes. But I find it much more difficult getting up in the morning during the long cold nights of winter.
your favourite of your own books and why?
Tricky question, eh? Most writers might say the book that they are working
on right now or the one they have just had published. So for me that would equate to Jesse Jameson and the Bogie
Beast or Jesse Jameson and the Vampire Vault. But some might say, their first novel, in my case, Jesse
Jameson and the Golden Glow. But for me is has got to be Book 3 – The Curse of Caldazar – which
is a fantastic read, full of horror, suspense, twists and turns, monsters, heroes, evil vampires and weird witches,
and of course, the heroine, Jesse, and her band of entertaining fairy friends. But, I can’t tell you too much
about it because it’s not out until May 2004.
Which is your favourite children’s book written by someone
This is a hard one. I love so many books written for children. I admire Roald Dahl, Philip Ardagh, Philip
Pullman, GP Taylor and JK Rowling. But if I was to narrow it down to just one writer and one book (a nightmare scenario
if ever I heard of one), then it would have to be, Lucy M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe and Clive King’s
Stig of the Dump. Sorry, I can’t count.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I write between 500 to a 1000 words each day, and every day, except Xmas Day, New Year’s Day, and my wife’s
Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?
I’m ambiwhatsit and can and do both ways of writing. But at present, working on Book 4 in the Jesse Jameson Alpha
to Omega Series, the Vampire Vault, I’m working mostly in long hand.
Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?
I enjoy revisiting my books after a couple of months. Let them mature
in a drawer somewhere dark, like a seed, or a mouldy orange. When you let them out of darkness again, then fresh
eyes spot the bloomers straight away! Oh, those bloomers! So many .Also, I find quirky surprises in my writing which
I’d forgotten about, or simply didn’t
recall writing at all. Must be my age!!! (Thumps computer with a hardwood walking stick and gnashes false teeth excitedly).
you have an agent?
Yes. David Smith, at the Annette Green Author’s Agency. They have a distinguished client list of award-winning writers,
and worldwide bestselling writer, Meg Cabot, on their list, so I feel very lucky and eat huge helpings of humble pie. A
lot of cap-doffing goes on, I can tell you. They’ve also said lovely things about the Jesse Jameson series, such
as ‘destined to become a modern classic’, which is nice because I didn’t pay them to say that. Honest.
Well, not much. Bank notes are easier to forge now than ever, you know.
.Why do you like writing for children?
I’ve never grown up, I guess. I find children’s literature fascinating. It’s more open to the
imagination, and my style of writing always tries to continue the Dahl and Ardagh tradition of taking language to
the edge – of where? Good question – to the edge of silliness and satire, I guess. That’s my hope.
On a serious note, I want to keep alive the tradition of the wondrous, worlds and characters where anything is possible.
Most children under ten still have a great belief and appreciation for the improbable and the impossible. I like
that. I love to write about those kinds of things.
How do you get your ideas?
I read a lot of children’s fiction. It’s part of my job as a teacher. I think a lot about what’s
impossible in our everyday world, and then say … right, I’ll make it possible in words. I’m like
that, you know. Very mean and moody if I haven’t had my daily dose of children’s books to read, and my
daily dose of writing! I also read a lot about myths, legends, and folklore, which never fails to inspire me.
draw the pictures for your books? If so, which comes first - the words or the pictures.
Yes, I illustrate my books. Although 80% of the writing comes first. However, drawing is a great way to fire my
imagination. Half way through a drawing, I usually stop to write. Sometimes it happens in reverse.
What advice would
you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Read, read, read. It’s the only way to get to know your market, the kinds of writers you like to read and the ones
you don’t. Then write, write, write until your hand aches and your arm falls off. You can always use the other one.
After all it’s a labour of love, as Mr Shakespeare said, and don’t give up the day job!
Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
Difficult, as I teach in school. But I have been known to
visit schools, teach writing workshops, and give talks. It depends if my headteacher has had a good day or not, as
whether he’ll let me out for the day! Just joking.
I’ve worked with Years 3, 4, 5, and 6. Anywhere to a radius of 150 miles of King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
you won any awards or prizes?
Yes. I won third prize in the Heinz Baked Beans National Slogan Competition in the early 1970s. I must have been
about 12 years old at the time. I was gutted. The winner’s slogan was Beanz, Meanz, Heinz!
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