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What was World Book Day Like for you?

I have two words: thrilling and exhausting!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with all the wonderful World Book Day (AKA World Book Fortnight!) activities and events I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in.

Schools, libraries, theatres, bookshops – thank you so much for having me.

Audience participation in Answer The Question Before 🙂

It’s been completely brilliant to see children so enthused about books – laughing, sharing tales, dressing up as Billie, asking some inciteful questions and, best of all, telling me how much they love my series.

#Authorgoals – a potato of my protagonist – Billie Upton Green

Here are some of the most popular questions I got asked over the last couple of weeks and some short and sweet answers in case you’re interested:

When did you write your first book?

When I was seven. It was completely magpied from a book I loved to re-read when I was this age: About Teddy Robinson by Joan Robinson. Mine was called About Teddy Carney. The teddy lost his leg, played tennis and got a cap with the number 88 on it. Deep.

Practise makes…better…

What’s your favourite biscuit?

A question I love and one I often answer thus: A Tunnock’s Tea Cake – brilliantly dismantle-able; delicious to boot. Oddly, it doesn’t feature in TOBLA’s Biscuit Laws. Yet.

The first five Biscuit Laws in The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

What inspired you to start writing?

  1. My mum. She wrote funny poems about my family and I loved her reading them to me.
  2. A teacher at High School called Mrs Gray who gave me tons of positive feedback and encouragement about my penmanship.
My lovely mum (and toddler me)

Have you had any other jobs?

Yes, many! Here’s a few of them: family learning tutor, KS2 teacher, working in a shoe shop, working in a bank, bid-writer, project manager, leaflet deliverer.

Here’s me working as a project manager on a gardening project

Why did you write this series?

I wanted to make sure that my children (and subsequently children all across the country/world) had the option to read a funny and interactive book that featured a main character who was happily adopted by two mums – because that’s what my son wanted when he was 10.

There are currently three books in The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. series. You can order them here if you like!

How long does it take to write a book?

Tricky. For me, writing a first draft might take about four months (predominantly working 9.30-2.30 Monday to Thursday). But the rest of the process takes much longer – working with an editor to make everything shine, the illustration process etc. It can take over a year for a book to get from an idea in my head to being available in a shop.

Some of the books I’ve recently signed for Ebb & Flo bookshop

How old are you?

I like to answer this question, and the one about how long I’ve been writing, with a maths problem.

My age is 9 x 5, half of 90, three lots of 15

I started writing stories when I was seven. That was in 1983.

(This detail is correct as at 13th March 2022!)

Me and Rachel – the wonderful children’s bookseller at Waterstones in Warrington. Say cheese!

Do you have any tips for writing funny books?

Keep a notebook handy. When you see/hear/think of something funny, write it down for reference. Test your material out on your intended audience. Be prepared to make some drastic cuts!

A child laughing…I think because she’s been allowed to dismantle a custard cream in class.

What’s your favourite book?

I honestly don’t have one. I love reading all sorts of books. When I’m asked this question by children, I often recommend a book I’ve recently read and enjoyed. This week I read a couple of advanced reader copies of books I loved, both of which are out later in 2022: Secrets of An Undercover Activist by Nat Amoore and My Name is Sunshine Simpson by G.M. Linton. I do love realistic, contemporary stories with humour and heart.

#authorperks …publishers send you early reader copies of brilliant books like this.

Can you tell us a joke?

My answer here varies. Here’s an oldie, but a goodie: Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Europe…

I’d like to finish this blog with some HUGE thank yous to the following schools and organisations for inviting me to connect with readers during this bookish time of the year:

Orpington Library Chatterbooks group, The NENE Trust schools, Tameside Libraries, Albany Academy, Coleham Primary School, Horwich Parish C of E, St Joseph’s RC Primary, Woodside Junior School, Chorley Theatre, Ebb & Flo Bookshop and all the schools in Chorley who attended my World Book Day live event either in the theatre or via the livestream, Boldmere Primary, The Vineyard School, Hull Schools Library Service, Hampshire Schools Library Service.

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