Monday, March 14, 2011

General writing questions..

Ian, we have some questions about writing in general and just about being an author. These are some of them:

  • We noticed you had a contest on your Facebook page for naming a character in a book. Where do you come up with names for your characters?
  • What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
  • Out of the 27 novels novels you have published, do you have a favourite? If so, what is it? When you write a book, do you generally reread it once it is published?
  • Do you have any advice about how to start thinking creatively once you've run out of ideas? What do you do when you get writer's block?
  • How old were you when you wrote your first book? When did you decide you could be a full-time author?
  • Is there another author who has influenced your writing?
  • As your books are fantasy, do you travel and base places on locations your visit or do you just use your imagination?


  1. Hi year 6, See General Questions for my answers. Ian

  2. Hi Ian, we really enjoyed reading your answers.. Your replies were really detailed and taught us a lot.

    We think the way you name your characters is really clever! It really makes sense to do it like that. Did the person who won the Facebook competition pick up on this and name the character in the same way? Can you give us some examples of what you might call some flying bats? We are going to see if we can guess the way that you would do it!

    You aren't as old as you think! Believe it or not, we still have some Famous Five books in our library. I think some of us might want to borrow them now and see if they inspire us. It sounds like the Wreckers of Pengarth may have inspired you as a fantasy writer. We all love JK Rowling of course...

    Do you find it hard to end a series of books or are you happy to go on to a new topic. We think that we would want to keep writing and writing about the same characters, but you probably get tired of creating new scenarios. We think we could read some series of books forever, like Harry Potter, as the characters nearly become our friends.

    It makes sense that your first novels would have a special place in your heart. It must have been an incredible feeling to have had that first book published as it is a challenging industry to get started in. We can't wait to read your current favourite though! Did you write the whole Grim and Grimmer series at once and then break it up into books with different publication dates or do you write the books at different times?

    Wow, we just have to go to a rehearsal for our Easter play, but we might have more questions later... You sound very interesting and we are going to be looking at the names of your characters very closely in future!

    Year 6

  3. Hi year 6. Thank you. good questions, and here are some answers.

    1. The Facebook competition: There were some great answers, and I've used names created by the three prizewinners in the next book, The Calamitous Queen. The names were Anastasia Snobelligoff (for a cranky, rich old lady), Creepy Cripts (a hunchbacked troll), and Clack Hearty and Treacy Hack (twin gnomes). Aren't they great names?

    2. Flying bats: How about Leatherwings, or Grey Gremlin, or Squeakhunter?

    3. Ending a series: The trouble with writing books is that you have to keep doing draft after draft to get them right, so usually by the end of a series I'm fairly sick of them and don't want to write any more, ever. But the characters become my friends, too, and after a while I want to write some more about them. Maybe i will write more Grim and Grimmer books one day. I hope so.

    4. Writing the series: I wrote the 4 books one at a time, with breaks of months in between. Sometimes It's good to write the whole of a series at once, because if you think of a clever idea at the end, or what to change some of the characters, you can go back to the beginning and do it. But with Grim and Grimmer I couldn't write the four books in the one go because I was writing other books at the same time and did not have any spare time. In fact Book 1, The Headless Highwayman, was at the printer before I even started book 3, so I couldn't make any changes to book 1. And the same with Book 2, which was published before I began Book 4.

    So in fact, the four books were written over a period of two years, with large gaps in between.




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