Our fabulous author Kate Wiseman sat down with us recently to fill us in on all things wordy...
Do you have any tips for writing inspiration?
Read everything you can lay your hands on. Don’t worry if it’s meant for people older or younger than you. It all feeds your own imagination. Look around at everything when you’re out. Look at people. What are they wearing? What does it say about them? Listen to people. What are they saying? What are the stories behind their words? Keep a notebook with you at all times. Keep one by your bed. Write down your ideas and thoughts and dreams. Keep interesting photos you see in newspapers and magazines. Buy postcards of paintings you like – what’s the story behind the image?
Do you have any advice for anyone finding it hard to write?
My advice would be never to wait for the ‘right time’. There’s no such thing. You can always edit bad writing, but you can’t edit an empty page. Sit down and make yourself write about a given topic – anything you like – for five minutes without stopping. When you read back what you’ve written, be kind to yourself. Nobody writes brilliantly all the time.
What advice would you have for authors just starting their career?
First, remember that it’s a tough business and that no one gets it right first time. If something is niggling you about what you’ve written – if you think that it isn’t quite right - then it probably isn’t. Listen to your instincts. If you’re thinking of submitting to publishers or agents, stop and double check. Is it REALLY ready? The chances are that it isn’t. Many people – myself included – get really excited and submit their work too soon. You don’t get infinite chances with agents, so get it right before you approach them.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
This is such a difficult question. I recently read Station Eleven by Canadian writer Emily St John Mandel and thought it was one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. It’s kind of part sci-fi, part dystopian and all brilliant. Apparently it’s being made into a movie so I don’t know if it counts as underappreciated.
I’ve always had a soft spot for E Nesbit’s Five Children and It. I guess it’s quite old fashioned, but I love the grumpy sand fairy and the stupid things the children wish for when it gives them the opportunity and the way they all backfire on them.
How many hours a day do you spend writing/what do you write on (laptop, paper etc)?
When I’m ready to start a story I write it straight onto my mac, but I keep my notebooks close at hand so that I can refer to them. I’m definitely a morning person so I think I write best then. Normally I try to be at my messy desk and writing by about 9.30 and I set myself daily targets – usually 1,000 words a day. That can take a couple of hours or most of the day. Sometimes I get an idea around 3 in the morning. Often it feels OK to note it down quickly in a notebook and get back to sleep, but sometimes I have to get it straight onto my laptop, which annoys my husband quite a bit. Don’t know why!
Why do you think children connect with fantasy books?
Fantasy takes you to completely different worlds. This can be a huge release, especially when real life gets a bit too real. It lets you inhabit places and bodies and situations that are completely outside of normal human experience. In fantasy you can be a warrior or a goblin or a princess or even a trainee criminal mastermind. Imagination should be more highly prized in adults – it can heal rifts and solve ‘impossible’ problems. Kids’ imaginations are amazing and fantasy feeds them.
Kate's debut Gangster School will be publishing this spring - keep your eyes peeled!