The Kidlit Interview Series
So come back every Tuesday to find super-talented authors like SF Said, Fletcher Moss and Lauren Magaziner answering crucial questions like who they'd want riding alongside come the zombie apocalypse...
It’s a difficult one – obviously you want to be able to have a good writerly conversation in the evenings now that there’s no TV, on the other hand you want someone whose going to be a bit handy with an automatic weapon.
Sadly, most of my favourite kids’ authors would be pretty damn hopeless in a zombie fight – CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, JRR Tolkien (all lovely chaps but each about as lethal as a scone). So based on the Allan Boroughs ‘Literary/Kick Ass’ survivability Index © (see below), I’d probably have to go with Andy McNab.
How about anytime during the golden age of adventure:
- 1889 to travel round the world in 80 days with Nellie Bly
- 1907 to join Percy Fawcett’s expedition to the heart of the Amazon (in which he shot a 62 foot Anaconda don’t you know)
- 1910 to join Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole
- 1914 to join Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition (but not if I have to eat the huskies)
Actually I’d like to do all of these – how about I just go back three minutes to the point where you came in and I just mug you for the time machine?
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
It’s an audience that doesn’t impose any limits. Nothing is out of bounds, too silly or too far-fetched to be given serious consideration by young readers. At the same time they are the most demanding audience in terms of technical excellence – kids never miss inconsistencies of plot, characterisation or story world and they never forgive sloppy writing.
It drives me mad when people denigrate children’s writing as less serious than adult literature – it’s both patronising and wrong and I’m pretty sure that no one who holds this point of view has ever really tried it.
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?
Olfactoflage – that’s the art of being able to smell like your surroundings
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
Well I’ve eaten scorpions, swum beneath the Antarctic circle, crashed a dog sledge (when the lead dog decided to take a dump) and been bitten by a snake. However, probably the weirdest thing was getting married in Las Vegas - by Elvis.
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: Probably a good idea to know how your book’s going to end before you start writing it.
Publishing: Publishers are businesses – the more you understand and appreciate how they make money the more inclined they will be to help you
7) What would your daemon be?
Something that wasn’t in danger of wandering off, like a tape worm, or maybe head lice.
8) My books don’t have dragons, but they do have... Androids, tech-hunters, two-hundred year old shamans, teenage outlaws, pirates, submarines, rocket packs, volcanoes, meteorites, steam-ships and giant moving oil rigs.
Oh, and dinosaurs. So they do have dragons, sort of.
Jen Swann Downey, author of The Ninja Librarians!