Meet the Authors

Meet the authors

In Meet the Authors pupils can hear their peers interview some leading children's writers to find out about their inspiration and tips for successful writing.

Read the questions on the right, then click the audio icons on the left to listen to the answers.

David Almond

  • 1 - What made you want to become a writer?
  • 2 - Who, or what, inspired you to begin writing?
  • 3 - Have any of your childhood experiences influenced the books you have written?
  • 4 - Do you ever base the characters in your books on people who you have met?
  • 5 - The books you write are set in the north east of England. Why is this important to you?
  • 6 - How long does it take you to write a book and what’s the best part of the process?
  • 7 - When you write your books do you pretend to be one of your characters?
  • 8 - You mention birds quite a lot in your books. Why are you interested in them?
  • 9 - Why do your stories usually have children with issues in them?
  • 10 - Many of your stories feature a mysterious, magical, element set in the real world. Why?
  • 11 - Have you ever started a book and not been able to finish it because you’ve run out of ideas?
  • 12 - Why do you choose to write in the first person?
  • 13 - Do you think about what happens to the characters in your books once you have finished writing their stories?
  • 14 - Where do you get your inspiration for the titles and characters of your books?
  • 15 - Do you plan out your stories or do they just flow as you are writing?

Malorie Blackman

  • 1 - What was your childhood like?
  • 2 - Where do you get your ideas for your books from?
  • 3 - When you start writing a book do you start with the characters or situation and setting?
  • 4 - How long does it take you to write a book?
  • 5 - What do you enjoy most and least about writing?
  • 6 - How do you plan and develop your stories?
  • 7 - Why do you write for children and young people?
  • 8 - How would you describe your books?
  • 9 - What do you think are the best things about books and reading?
  • 10 - Where do you get the inspiration for the names of your characters?
  • 11 - Who is your favourite character that you have created?
  • 12 - Many of your books are about science and technology. Why are these subjects important to you?
  • 13 - What sorts of things do you really care about?
  • 14 - What advice would you give to young, aspiring writers?

Valerie Bloom

  • 1 - Is it best to read your poems out loud?
  • 2 - Did you like writing poetry as a child?
  • 3 - Many of your poems are about children growing up in Jamaica. How closely are they based on your own memories?
  • 4 - Did you live in the country or the city in Jamaica?
  • 5 - You came to Britain when you were 23. What was it like starting a new life?
  • 6 - What does it feel like when you're writing a poem?
  • 7 - Do you have a special place where you write and do you write every day?
  • 8 - Is it fun being a poet?
  • 9 - Sometimes you write in English and sometimes you write in Jamaican patois. Which is easiest for you?
  • 10 - Which sort of poems do you like writing the best - funny ones or serious?
  • 11 - Where do you get your ideas from?
  • 12 - Why do you use lots of rhymes in your poems?
  • 13 - What other techniques of poetry do you like to use?
  • 14 - What sort of things do you really care about?

Anne Fine

  • 1 - When you were at primary school did you enjoy writing stories and did you think your work would ever be published?
  • 2 - What first started you off writing books?
  • 3 - Where do you get your ideas from and have you ever run out of ideas?
  • 4 - You seem to understand a lot about children. Is that because you've had the same experiences as the children in your books?
  • 5 - Basically you're putting your emotions into the characters in the books..?
  • 6 - You write a lot of stories about animals. Do you have any pets and are any of them naughty like Toffee in 'Diary of a Killer Cat'?
  • 7 - Are any of the characters in your books based on people you know?
  • 8 - You seem to be quite a chirpy person. Does that help to make your books funny?
  • 9 - Do you think it helps to laugh about 'serious' things?
  • 10 - A lot of your characters write their own stories. Why do you like working in the first person?
  • 11 - You don't give a lot of detail about where your stories are set. Why?
  • 12 - How much planning do you put into your stories?
  • 13 - If someone asked you what the point of your writing is, what would you say?
  • 14 - Is there someone you wish you could have been or something you still wish to do?
  • 15 - What do you really care about?

Morris Gleitzman

  • 1 - Did you always want to be an author?
  • 2 - What sort of books and authors did you enjoy reading as a child?
  • 3 - Do you put time aside to write each day?
  • 4 - Who is your favourite character that you have created?
  • 5 - What sorts of things do you do to help the readers understand the feelings of the characters?
  • 6 - Why do you think having a good imagination is important?
  • 7 - Are any of your characters, or the situations in your books, based on people you know or things you have done?
  • 8 - Do you think living in Australia changed the way you look at things and what you write about?
  • 9 - I often find the hardest part of writing a story is the beginning and end. How do you deal with this problem?
  • 10 - Do you enjoy writing from the point of view of your main character?
  • 11 - Do you change much in your stories as you go along?
  • 12 - How much research do you do before you write?
  • 13 - Pets and animals are often the main characters in your books. How do you get to know what it is like to be an animal?
  • 14 - How do you write about so many different things?
  • 15 - How do you come up with funny things to say about sad things?
  • 16 - Do you always like to put adventure and danger in your stories?

Anthony Horowitz

  • 1 - At what age did you realise you wanted to become a professional writer?
  • 2 - Are any of your characters based on real people or even yourself?
  • 3 - Did your Mum really give you a human skull for your 13th birthday?
  • 4 - Why do you like to write in different genres?
  • 5 - If you could switch places with anyone from around the world, or from history, who would it be and why?
  • 6 - Where did you get the idea to write the Alex Rider series?
  • 7 - Which of Alex Rider’s gadgets would you like to own in real life?
  • 8 - How do you come up with your characters' names?
  • 9 - Many of your books are set in London. Does is help to know the locations of your books?
  • 10 - Why are most of your main characters boys?
  • 11 - The titles and opening lines of your books are quite short and grab your attention. Why do you choose to write them like that?
  • 12 - Why aren’t parents in your books very much?
  • 13 - What tips can you give to people who want to write stories?

Eva Ibbotson

  • 1 - You came to Britain when you were 8 years old. Why did you leave Vienna?
  • 2 - How did you start writing?
  • 3 - Your mother was a successful writer also. Do you thinking that being a writer can run in the family?
  • 4 - Did anyone encourage you to be a writer?
  • 5 - How do the children in your stories relate to your own childhood?
  • 6 - How many of your childhood memories are in your books?
  • 7 - Is it true that you based some of the witches in your books on members of your own family?
  • 8 - Do you believe in ghosts and witches and did that inspire you to write about them?
  • 9 - Is Annika in 'The Star of Kazan' based on a real person?
  • 10 - Why did you suddenly change what you write about with 'Journey to the River Sea'?
  • 11 - How much research do you do for you stories?
  • 12 - How you won any awards...do awards matter?
  • 13 - What things do you really care about?

Geraldine McCaughrean

  • 1 - What was your childhood like and what were you like at school?
  • 2 - What kind of books did you like and why did you like them?
  • 3 - How long have you been writing?
  • 4 - Where do you get your best ideas from?
  • 5 - Do you prefer re-writing stories like myths and legends or making them up yourself?
  • 6 - Do you make a point of writing something different to your previous book?
  • 7 - Do you take a notebook everywhere you go?
  • 8 - Do you have to visit the places where you set your books?
  • 9 - When I write I like to think I’m there and let my imagination go wild. How do you feel when you are writing?
  • 10 - Does it help to be a daydreamer if you want to be a good writer?
  • 11 - Is there a children’s book you wish you had written?
  • 12 - Which is your favourite of the books you have written and do you have a favourite character?
  • 13 - Do you prefer writing in the first or third person?
  • 14 - Have you ever started a book and not finished it?
  • 15 - How long does it take you to plan a story?

Michael Morpurgo

  • 1 - Did you have a happy childhood?
  • 2 - Did you keep a diary as a child (like the character Laura in 'The wreck of the Zanzibar'?
  • 3 - Who was your favourite author as a child?
  • 4 - Did you learn to write stories at your primary school?
  • 5 - How did your first story come to be published?
  • 6 - What are the best things and worst things about writing books?
  • 7 - Where do you write and for how long each day?
  • 8 - What character would you like to be from your stories?
  • 9 - Have any of the things you write about actually happened to you?
  • 10 - 'Kenske's Kingdom' has a great first line. How important are 'beginnings' in stories?

Brian Patten

  • 1 - You were born in Liverpool just after World War 2. Was it a good time to be a child?
  • 2 - How did you end up living in Devon?
  • 3 - Did you like school and did you have a favourite teacher?
  • 4 - What first got you interested in writing poems?
  • 5 - Did you dream of being a poet when you were a child?
  • 6 - Who was your favourite poet or author when you were a child?
  • 7 - Which poet do you most like now?
  • 8 - Have your poems always been humorous?
  • 9 - Where do you get your ideas from?
  • 10 - Do you write your poems on the computer or on paper?

Philip Pullman

  • 1 - What are your earliest childhood memories?
  • 2 - What was your childhood like?
  • 3 - What kind of books did you read when you were younger?
  • 4 - Did anybody encourage you to become a writer when you were younger?
  • 5 - Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
  • 6 - Where and when do you like to write?
  • 7 - How does it feel when you sit down to write a story with a blank page in front of you?
  • 8 - Why do you only like to write three pages a day?
  • 9 - How long does it take you to write a book?
  • 10 - How do you come up with your characters' names?
  • 11 - Why are so many of the lead characters in your books girls?
  • 12 - Do you have to do much research into the historical details in your books?
  • 13 - You use a lot of illustrations and pictures in your books. Why is this?
  • 14 - If you could be any character from your books who would you be?
  • 15 - If you could have a daemon what animal would it be and why?
  • 16 - What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
  • 17 - Why do you think it’s important to tell stories?

Philip Ridley

  • 1 - Who was your favourite author as a child?
  • 2 - Do you like to write poetry?
  • 3 - Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
  • 4 - Why do you write about Bethnall Green in London so much?
  • 5 - Does the way you exaggerate things in your stories make them more interesting?
  • 6 - You seem to love playing with words - for example, the names of your characters..?
  • 7 - Do you have a catchphrase of your own?
  • 8 - Are your characters based on people you know or are they completely made up?
  • 9 - Which of your characters is the most fantastical and which would you most like to be?
  • 10 - You like to use all sorts of different writing styles. Why?
  • 11 - Why is bullying such an important theme in your books?
  • 12 - Anger is another theme - like Milo in 'Mighty Fizz Chilla'..?
  • 13 - What tips would you give to people wanting to write stories as great as yours?

Michael Rosen

  • 1 - What was your childhood like?
  • 2 - What was your favourite subject at school and why?
  • 3 - Did you learn about poetry at your school?
  • 4 - Where did you write your first ever poem and what was it about?
  • 5 - Why did you want to be a poet?
  • 6 - Why do you enjoy writing for children and young people?
  • 7 - What does it feel like when you are writing your poems?
  • 8 - Where did you get the crazy and random ideas for the poem ‘Words are ours’?
  • 9 - Where do you get your ideas from?
  • 10 - Why do you write from your own experiences?
  • 11 - Do you find it easy to start and finish your poems?
  • 12 - What do you enjoy most and least about writing?
  • 13 - What makes a good poem that people will remember and like?
  • 14 - Why do you choose to make most of your poems not rhyme?
  • 15 - Do you think your performance of your poems adds a lot to them?

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

  • 1 - Did you enjoy reading when you were younger and what books did you like best?
  • 2 - When did you first start writing or illustrating?
  • 3 - Who comes up with the initial ideas for your books?
  • 4 - Which comes first, the illustrations or the writing?
  • 5 - Do you ever think you could swap places?
  • 6 - How long does it take to write a book?
  • 7 - Do you both plan out the books in advance or let them develop as you write?
  • 8 - Your books are set in fantasy worlds but there is no magic in them. Why is this?
  • 9 - How do you get the names for the characters and places in your books?
  • 10 - The worlds you create in your stories are quite detailed. Do you have to keep notes of these details as you write?
  • 11 - Which character from your books would you most like to be and why?
  • 12 - Do you have to research much for your books?
  • 13 - What’s a typical day like when you’re writing a book?
  • 14 - Why do you like writing for children and young people?

Jeremy Strong

  • 1 - Where did you grow up and did you have a happy childhood?
  • 2 - A lot of your stories are about brothers and sisters. Have you got any brother or sisters and did you get on with them as a child?
  • 3 - Did any of your teachers make writing come alive for you at school?
  • 4 - Your stories are a bit like cartoons. Did you like reading comics as a child?
  • 5 - When you were a child did you dream of becoming a writer?
  • 6 - What stories did you like reading as a child?
  • 7 - Are any of your characters like you, or based on people you know?
  • 8 - Why do your characters have so many disasterous accidents?
  • 9 - You obviously find a lot of things funny. What makes you laugh the most?
  • 10 - Did you set out to write books that make children laugh, or did it just happen?
  • 11 - Where do you get your ideas from?
  • 12 - What sort of things do you really care about?

Jacqueline Wilson

  • 1 - How did you get into writing and how long did it take you to get a story published?
  • 2 - Does writing come easily to you?
  • 3 - What keeps you writing?
  • 4 - How do you manage to write so convincingly as a child?
  • 5 - Is your understanding of children helped by having lots of contact with them?
  • 6 - Why are so many of your stories about children with sad or difficult backgrounds...and do you write them for children in that situation or for children who aren't?
  • 7 - Are any of the events in your stories based on things that have happened to you? For example, were you bullied at school?
  • 8 - When you were younger which of your characters do you think you were most like?
  • 9 - Are any of your characters based on people you know?
  • 10 - Your books are mostly about reality. Are you going to write any fantasies?
  • 11 - Are any aspects of your own personality revealed in your books?
  • 12 - Why are 'Cliffhanger' and 'Buried alive' the only stories you've written about boys?
  • 13 - With all the writing that you do, is it difficult to find free time to do other things?
  • 14 - Why have you got so many rings?
  • 15 - What things do you really care about?

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100 years since World War 1

WW1 Performance Pack

WW1 Performance Pack

Commemorate 100 years since WW1 by staging our specially-written play 'Archie Dobson's War'.

Private Peaceful - listen now!

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Private Peaceful

All 13 episodes of Michael Morpurgo's moving WW1 story are available to listen to online.

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