The Kidlit Interview Series
Pea’s Book of Holidays (which wants to be a Blytonesque adventure but soon discovers that ginger beer is horrid and that there aren’t usually smugglers when you go on holiday) came out on June 5th from Penguin Random House.
Rainbow Rowell. Because I’m pretty sure I can hide in her hair.
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.)
The 1920s! Women have just got the vote; they’re wearing the trousers, chucking all that Victorian zzzzz away, cutting their hair and learning to drive! Which is an extraordinarily rosy-tinted posh gel's version of it all that ignores the absence of things like commonplace indoor plumbing and labour-saving devices, the fact that until 1928 the vote was only won for only women over 30, and awkward historical moments like Winston Churchill closing down the General Strike in a distinctly not-like-that-nice-uncle-in-the-textbooks manner. But that’s sort of why I’d like to try it out. In my head it’s a country house mystery featuring Harriet Vane, Albert Campion and Virginia Woolf all kitted out in the House of Eliott Nocturne collection. It would be fun to scratch that surface. Please don’t leave me there, though. I hear the 1930s don’t end well...
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
My favourite thing about writing for kids is that the books are short and not about tax returns and where to buy a nice fridge. (I’m pretty sure that’s what adulthood is about, so probably their fiction is too. Yawn.) Also, kids write me the most lovely letters with drawings in and I bet Martin Amis gets NONE.
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?
Teleportation. My family are mostly back in Wales and thanks to the magical internet, I have lots of lovely writing friends who are spread all over the place - so it’s tricky to meet up. I’d love to blink and be somewhere else. Also I would never again be at Didcot Parkway station listening to the ‘First Great Western are sorry for the delay to your journey’ lady.
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
Hiking the Grand Canyon - which isn’t strange until you factor in that at school I was the most slumpy PE-resistant predictable bookish type imaginable. Since then I’ve discovered I quite like doing things that make you exhausted. I slept down there for 2 nights in a campsite where you had to check your boots for scorpions before you put them on, and lie down in anything resembling shade from 12-3pm or you’d fry to a crisp - which is quite alarming when you’ve done most of your hiking practice in Welsh drizzle. And climbing back up and out was HARD. But brilliant. Best thing I’ve ever done.
I wish I’d known not to be scared to write stuff that you know isn’t quite right, because you’re only going to rewrite it later - and I wish I’d learned how to do that rewriting sooner. My first experience of working with an editor was wasted on me; she made all these suggestions that meant cutting out lines, paragraphs, whole chapters, whole plotlines - and she was completely right, but I couldn’t see how to take my own work apart like that back then. Publishing: silence doesn’t mean ‘I hate you and your book is useless,’ it means ‘I haven’t read it yet.’
7) What would your daemon be?
My daemon would be a giraffe. First, because giraffes are good. Secondly, I love the idea of my dearest Knock-knee stumbling about, hugely, crashing into stuff so I am only the second most awkward presence in the room. We would make an excellent team.