Quite a while ago now, on Wednesday 6th February I was invited to a Roadshow event from Oxford University Press, with Tim Bowler, Gillian Cross, Geraldine McCaughrean and Sally Prue.
|Geraldine McCaughrean, Sally Prue, Lecturer for Man Met Uni, Gillian Cross and Tim Bowler|
The four authors were there to talk about their new books and writing in general. A lecturer from Manchester Metropolitan University joined the authors to spur on some interesting discussions about writing and it made for such a great evening.
The authors talked respectively about their books, about what happens and gave us a reading from them. In between each reading the panel were asked questions about what gets them writing, what they value about being an author and if there are any rules about writing for kids.
I really enjoyed all of the answers that the authors gave for these questions but the ones that stuck out most for me were Sally talking about how she writes to explore new adventures, her writing style is very much writing to get to the end of a story and she doesn’t know how its going to end. Geraldine agreed with this claiming that the authors needs that ‘dying to turn the page’ feeling whilst writing as the reader does whilst reading, otherwise the book isn’t as fun to read.
When asked what they value about writing Tim answered with a quote about how writing is like dipping a bucket into your subconscious. He gets an idea and he has no clue as to where it came from often as it must have been plucked form his subconscious and thats what he values, that sense of creativity, exploring things that you never even knew you had the idea for until it just suddenly appeared. Gillian values mostly the knowledge that comes from writing, the way you can always learn new things and gather information about things for your writing, which you may never have thought about before.
All four of the authors believed that there were very few rules about writing for children, however they agreed that every story for children must leave the reader in a bearable universe, not necessarily a happy ending but one with an upward escape ladder, away from the madness that has ensued from the story. Tim also claimed that some rules are imposed by publishers rather than within the writing itself, and that his editor often tells him what he’ll be able to get away with when writing a new story.
Whilst doing their readings each author talked a little about what the book was about and how it came to life. It was really interesting that Geraldine’s book, The Positively Last Performance, was actually commissioned in a way by the Margate Theatre Royal as a way to help them boost funding. They asked Geraldine to write a story but left her to decide what it was. So the story was all Geraldine’s but commissioned rather than thought up like her other books and I really found that fascinating, especially as I will now have an image of that theatre in my head when reading the book!
The whole event was a valuable insight to how authors write, where stories come from and tips on how to write, which boiled down to the fact that everyone is different and you have to find what works best for you. I really enjoyed the event and thought it was a great place for aspiring writers.