The Kidlit Interview Series
Her debut novel, the brilliant and heart-tugging Who Framed Klaris Cliff, a sort of whodunnit with an imaginary person, was published by Oxford University Press in February this year.
Gah! A zombie apocalypse? Do I have to? Can’t I have a note? ‘Nikki can’t join in the zombie apocalypse today because she has fear issues over the undead?’ No? OK, I’ll have to have someone ridiculously brave (i.e. stupid) or someone really clever. I know, I’ll have Max Brooks who wrote all the Zombie Survival books. (They are based on fact, right?)
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.)
That’s more like it! Well, as I live in and among the Regency splendour of Brighton I’d like to go back to the days of George IV, who was responsible for the Royal Pavilion, possibly the campest building ever. The city is said to be Swiss cheesed with tunnels which were dug so that George could get up to all sort of shenanigans without anyone knowing. I’d love the chance to go back in time and find out where they all are, and maybe catch him up to no good!
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
Being paid for thinking up strange things. Anyone looking through my google history would be hard pushed to believe it, but this is actual real work!
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?
My special talent will be mind reading. But I would never be able to tell anyone about it or the talent will disappear, so I would know everyone’s secrets and be able to thwart dastardly plans etc. And maybe levitation, just for fun.
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not really into doing scary stuff in real life. However, getting a book published has, at times, been scary, and standing up in front of 200 kids and telling them about my imaginary friends, is, by anyone’s definition, strange.
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?
I knew very little about writing, and I’m grateful for that. I’m a journalist, so I was used to the activity of moving words from my head onto paper, but I had no idea of most of the rules that they teach you in those ‘How to Write a Blockbuster in Your Lunchhour’ type books. If I had known there were so many things to get wrong I probably never would have tried. So actually I’m glad I learnt it as I went along.
Equally I knew nothing about publishing. I suppose what would have been good to know is how slowly it moves, and that editors are busy people and if you don’t hear back the same day, it doesn’t mean that they’ve changed their mind about your book and you have to pay back your advance.
I already have a daemon - my dog Tinker. She can actually read my mind, and is also very good at finding things for me (OK, so it’s mainly dead stuff and balls). I’ve also trained her to shut the door which is very useful in winter.
8) My book doesn’t have dragons, but it does have... biscuits, and lots of them, especially the nice ones.
Kat Ellis, author of Blackfin Sky!