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.
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.
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.
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.
What inspired you to start writing?
- My mum. She wrote funny poems about my family and I loved her reading them to me.
- A teacher at High School called Mrs Gray who gave me tons of positive feedback and encouragement about my penmanship.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.