Foto: Polly Ho-Yen
Read the Danish interview here: Drengen i tårnet
When did you know that you wanted to become an author?
As soon as I started reading books, part of me has always wanted to be the one writing them.
How long have you been writing? And what started it?
I suppose I feel that I *properly* started when I was around 28 as that was when I committed to finishing something. I was dabbling before then. I think it started because at that time I was working in a primary school in South London, always reading, always listening – there felt like there was a story that I wanted to tell about this place, with the characters and people that I knew.
Who discovered you? (Did you contact publishing houses? How was the process?)
I had some experience of publishing as I worked for a literary agency and then a commercial publisher in sales and marketing and so I was very familiar with the traditional publishing process of finding a literary agent, and then the agent contacting publishers. I read lots of new books and looked at which agent they thanked in their acknowledgements – this led me to Darley Anderson Literary Agency and I was very encouraged by their website which said they were open to receiving submissions and that they could be simply emailed to them. I couldn’t really believe it when I heard back from them a couple of days later.
How many books have you published (so far)? And which genre?
I have been writing in middle grade – fiction that has a science fiction or fantastical element – for my last three books. I’ve just had published my first illustrated fiction for younger readers.
Why this story? What made you choose this specific theme?
I suppose it was this story because I felt curious (and excited) to tell it. It feels so much like a discovery for me when I’m trying new ideas but the one thing that I stick by is that I need to continue to feel that curiousity to find out where the story will lead me. I don’t choose themes, I feel like I discover them.
What inspires you to write? Which authors have inspired you? (Music, art, things in life?)
Reading and the world! I also felt very strongly that I wanted to write a fantastical, exciting story that had its roots in the reality that I knew – that children could see a London that they actually lived in, that they might see themselves …
I’m inspired by too many authors to list but here’s a few: Anne Charnock, Nina Allen, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, John Wyndham, Maggie O’Farrell, Patrick Ness …
What is the message of your book? How should the reader interpret it?
From the moment the book is sent to print, what I want its message to be is out of hands, it’s in the power and freedom of the reader to find it.
How do you identify with the character(s) in your book?
Some people have asked me how could I write as a ten year old and I almost felt embarrassed to admit I found it quite easy to do! I’ve always nourished my imagination and so perhaps that’s why. I simply find myself stepping into their shoes, being in their world and feeling what it means to them.
What are you currently reading?
‘Dreams before the Start of Time’ by Anne Charnock.
Mention 3 book titles that you wish to recommend
‘Dreams before the Start of Time’ by Anne Charnock!
‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’ and ‘Driving Short Distances’ by Joff Winterhart
Any book by Kate Atkinson
When is your next book going to be published?
I have some books which are being read by editors at the moment and so at the moment, I’m not sure … but hopefully soon!