It’s all in a book

Let me talk about the importance of books and reading. You might think the book in your bag is not all that but let me try to change your mind.
When I was at Primary School, i was not the most avid reader. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have seen me with a book. It wasn’t something I did for pleasure. Maybe it was having learnt to read through the Peter and Jane reading scheme meant that reading did not equal enjoyment for me.

5b OUT IN THE SUN Vintage Ladybird Book Keywords Matt Hardback Peter and  Jane Circa 1968

So come Year Six most of my writing was underlined in red pen by the teacher due to the poor spelling. At Parents’ Evening, my teacher (Mr Patchett) told my mother I needed to read more to help my spelling. My mother promptly passed the message onto me, with strong emphasis. So the next day, I searched the classroom bookshelf for a book until I chanced on The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis.

The Otterbury Incident - Wikipedia

It was about two gangs of boys who team up to help raise money for a friend. There were cunning tricks and battles with crooks. It was brilliant. So I read it again. And again. And again. After that, I thought “I’ll try something else,” and the reading bug was born within me. That book changed my life.

Governments need to celebrate the power of books. Libraries should be given all the funds they need. Schools given grants for author visits. WORLD BOOK DAY should be everyday.

The Writer’s Life

Writing and pen

When I visit schools, children often ask me questions about being a writer and what it is really like so I thought I would attempt to answer some of the most common questions I am asked here.

Are you rich?
The answer is no. Most writers are not rich. The average yearly wages for a writer is ¬£10,500 so that means most writers have another job as well, like me. Unless, you are super succesful like JK Rowling. Then you can write all the time. I’m afraid to say I don’t live in a big house and have twenty-eight cats. I have two and a goldfish.

Are you famous?
No. Very few writers get recognised on the street. The ones that do tend to have been celebrities before they became writers, like David Walliams. They were famous for something else first. Of course, there are a few exceptions like Michael Rosen, Roger McGough or Anthony Horowitz who have also been on TV after their books became well-known. I’ve only been recognised in the street once by a girl whose school I had visited. She yelled, “Look, there’s that writer who came to my school. He’s going into that house!” Otherwise, I walk about never noticed. I could be sat by you and you wouldn’t know.

What do you do when you write? What’s it like?
When I write, I take myself out of the house away from distractions like the TV, cats, fish, reliable internet and go to a place I call ‘the office.’ There I can get endless cups of coffee for just ¬£1.25.
I settle down at the table, look at the outline of my book I’m currently working on, open up my tablet and keyboard and begin writing. I write using a programme called Scrivener¬†which was specially made for writers. While I write, I usually listen to music without voices to cut out any background noise that may distract me and put me off. I might write non-stop for an hour or three. It depends how easily the writing is coming. As I write, I talk to nobody except my characters and imagined audience. They are my only concern.
Writing can be lonely. You sit by yourself, not speaking, not knowing if your writing is any good or worth reading. You just hope it is and carry on. That is why I am also a member of two Writing Groups. There, I share my work, find out what people think of it, if my jokes work, and talk about writing issues such as the best way to solve a problem with point of view.
Sometimes things are different. Sometimes I get to meet my readers when I am invited to a school to do a talk or run writing workshops. Then I get to share my love of writing and talk about books and we do some writing together. It’s great fun.

Have you written any other books?
Yes. Three others but they’re not published yet. One is for grown-ups, one is a kind of Tolkien adventure, and another is about an elf which I’m sending to Literary Agents. I am also working on another one at the moment.

I hope all this helps clear up the things I’m most asked. If you’ve any other questions, just ask in the comment’s box below.