There is the facility on Goodreads for readers to ask questions too. It would be lovely to receive some questions - friends and family included!
Here is the interview.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
My most recent book is Captain Sillyvoice Takes to the Stage, the second in my Captain Sillyvoice series about a gang of unlikely pirates.
About ten years ago, when my son was small, I would make up bedtime stories. These were often adventures in which he’d become magically transported to an interesting time or place, such as the jungle or space - all the usual stuff! Anyway, one such adventure featured a terribly nice pirate crew, led by the affable Captain Sillyvoice. The stories became a firm favourite. Firstly, a silly voice could be used and secondly there is fun to be had from a gang of pirates who are rather unsuitable for pirate life.
I'd been thinking about writing a series of books rather than another one-off story, and it struck me that I could return to one of my very first character ideas - Captain Sillyvoice. It seemed like the perfect starting point. I figured there must be loads of different storyline possibilities, and indeed, there are!
My third Captain Sillyvoice adventure is due for release soon.
How do you get inspired to write?
This varies enormously. Sometimes an event or the memory of something that’s happened in the past can spark an idea, as can listening to a joke or hearing a snippet of conversation. Once an idea has formed then it will often develop in my head over a couple of days or weeks before I put pen to paper. This was the case with 'The Day My Teacher Came to Tea' and 'Birthday Cake Disaster'. Sometimes though you just have to force yourself to sit down with a blank page and write something. Anything, as long as it gets you thinking. With my first book, 'My Crazy Purple Pen', I used the smart purple pen I was holding in my hand as the starting point for my jottings. I hadn't anticipated writing a whole story around it, but that’s what evolved.
What are you currently working on?
My third Captain Sillyvoice adventure is currently being illustrated. There’s a lot of work involved in making sure that the pictures complement the text. Fortunately I work with a very talented illustrator, Emma K L Hunt, who usually manages to interpret my illustration notes brilliantly, and is able to bring her creativity to the party as well.
I have recently written a Christmas picture book with a fun storyline about Santa's reindeers. I am very excited about this project because it is going to be a little bit different in style to my previous books. This is currently being professionally edited.
My other ongoing project is a sequel to my book, My Crazy Purple Pen. I have the outline of the story worked out and a draft of the text but there is much work still to do. Watch this space...
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
1. Write because you love it, not because you think it's a path to fame and fortune! The reality is that very few manage to achieve that.
2. Don't expect people to buy your book, simply because it's available on Amazon or other book websites. They won't. They won't even know your book exists unless you do something to make them sit up and notice you. To be a writer nowadays is also to be a marketing/sales/PR person, and this takes a lot of research, work and time.
3. It’s never too late to start writing. It took the dark approach of my 40th birthday to make me take the plunge. Two years on and I am very happy that I did!
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
There are so many things but here is my shortlist.
• Creating a story and developing an idea is satisfying and totally absorbing. Once you get immersed in your writing it's amazing how quickly the time just flies by.
• Holding a copy of your book for the first time and thinking, "I wrote that!", is the best feeling.
• Being a writer is a complete business enterprise. You have to learn to become an 'expert' in internet marketing, website design, distribution options, cost analysis, understanding publishing contracts and much more. In my experience, this variety makes the job of being a writer even more interesting.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I have been most fortunate because story ideas for my children's picture books have come to me quite easily so far. However, when I studied Creative Writing with the OU I did struggle with writer's block on occasion. A couple of the tips that I was given there did prove useful.
One thing you can do is to open a random book at a random page and read the first full sentence. From there, see if you can develop a story or an idea. Secondly there is the free association technique. This is where you write down the first things that occur to you, and just let your mind wander and see what ideas this triggers.