Who inspired you to write stories?
All the wonderful books I read as a child by authors such as Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Clive King. In my twenties I graduated to Stephen King among others!
What was your route into getting published?
I tried for years to get published and succeeded after studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. I graduated in 2012 with both an agent and a publishing deal with Macmillan Children’s Books.
What does social justice mean to you?
Equality and opportunity for all.
What are your top 5 useful tips to help young storytellers along the path of their creative writing?
1) START WRITING – don’t get hung up on the story being perfect, just get your first draft down. You can then edit it to your heart’s content. You can’t improve your story if it doesn’t exist.
2) ENTER WRITING COMPETITIONS – like MyVoice! It’s a great way of boosting confidence and allowing other people who understand the trials and tribulations of writing – the judges – to read your work. The more you allow others to read your work, the easier and less daunting it becomes. And the best thing about it, is you don’t have to win to get these benefits. Submitting a piece counts as a big success in your writing journey.
3) ALLOW YOUR IMAGINATION TO RUN FREELY – and not just when you sit down to write. When you’re travelling to school, college or work, look around you. Make up stories about the people and things you see… it’s great practise for storytelling! I’m always getting into trouble with my family for making up stories in real life about what ‘might’ happen – with good and bad outcomes. My defence is that it really helps my plotting skills!
4) KNOW THYSELF – notice what you prefer when it comes to writing. Do you like writing early in a morning or at the end of the day? Do you prefer writing by hand or via a keyboard? Do you prefer music while you work or does silence help you become absorbed into your fictional world? If you can develop a bit of a routine around your preferences, you’re sitting down to the ideal working environment for YOU. It’s not always easy, sometimes life gets in the way but usually, you can make a few adjustments that help your creative flow. For instance, when I got my first book deal, I had a full-time day job and ran my writing career alongside it for three years. I prefer writing during the morning so I used to set my alarm for 6 a.m. and write until 8 a.m. before getting ready for work. Now I’m a full-time writer, I try not to get up at 6 a.m. anymore but I have kept my preference of writing new words in the morning because I find it far more productive. I know other authors who write into the night.
5) BOARD THE ROLLERCOASTER – I know a lot of writers and one thing everyone seems to agree on is that writing isn’t a nice steady journey of feeling wonderful all the time. You might start with a hot idea and be seized with enthusiasm as you set to work at the start of your story. A few days in you might wake up with the crushing feeling that actually, this story isn’t great after all and you can’t imagine anybody will be interested in reading it. Push through it. All your favourite authors have been there. Up and down feelings are completely normal in the writing process and your enthusiasm will rise again soon. Remember: you can always edit and change anything you like once you have that all-important first draft. Board the rollercoaster and enjoy the ride: the steepest fall means there’s a great climb to come!
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone entering the MyVoice competition?
JUST DO IT. Commit to writing your piece and see it through. The most important thing is to get that story down.
Are you 10-25? Do you live in Notts? Have you got a voice that needs hearing? If the answer is a perfect score of three yeses, then click here and find out more about MyVoice.