Julia knew she wanted to be a writer at age five, although she didn’t know anything about writers then except they got to make up stories all the time. She loves the sea, chocolate Hobnobs, and books. And more books. She's fascinated by all kinds of wildlife from micro-organisms to mammoths. Plus she's really good at whistling. Julia writes at a desk of transparent glass - but insists that’s the only vaguely magical thing about her.
I’d like two, please. Ernest Hemingway – let’s see if he’s really handy in a tight spot or if it was all macho nonsense. And Jane Austen. She’d make killer remarks about it all. And I’m sure she would be handy in a tight spot. She’s got form with zombies.
2) Look, I got a time machine on eBay! Where do you want to go? (Said time machine may possibly malfunction and leave you there. Possibly. It was *very* cheap.)
So hard to choose. Medieval times when forests covered much of England? But I’d like another time machine to accompany me, loaded up with duvets and antibiotics and toothpaste and pizza alla napoletana. Though it would probably turn up somewhere/when else. Never buy cheap!
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
I get asked questions I can actually answer, like ‘What was your best pet ever?’ and ‘Do you know Jacqueline Wilson, ‘cos we really like her books?’ Answers: 1. My cat before last was the Best Pet in the World, no contest, and 2. No.
4) A witch has cast a spell on you (sorry about that) and you’ve woken up as a character in a children’s book – what’s your special talent or power?
I’d be Dickon in The Secret Garden. I’ve always longed to have a special affinity with wild animals, to gain their love and secrets. Not just have them give me disparaging glances and saunter away...
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m a natural coward so the strangest and scariest things happen in my books rather than in real life, and I can make it turn out ok!
6) What’s something you wish you’d known about writing when you started out? What’s something you wish you’d known about publishing?
Writing: No one’s going to discover your rare and special talent by stumbling over it in the dark. You have to stop being shy and put your stuff out there. Take the risk.
Publishing: How crucial timing is, and therefore luck. If your book lands on an editor’s desk just after they’ve acquired something similar, even if they love yours more, they won’t buy it.
Don’t think I haven’t already spent a lot of time wondering about this one! At the mo, I’d say a Red Panda. They are small(ish) and red-brown and much crazier than the kind of panda you’ve actually heard of.
8) My books don’t have dragons, but they do have... kidnappers, psychics, knife throwers, cruel aunts and wicked uncles, heroic girls and resourceful boys, quite a few dogs, cats, chickens and horses, and a Shoemaker Extraordinaire. Just normal stuff...
Nikki Sheehan, author of Who Framed Klaris Cliff!