Before my visit to Watlington Primary, Year 6 were apparently told to find out as much as they could about me. (Two enterprising young detectives decided that the best person to ask about me was me, and sent me some questions through the contact form on my website.)
When I arrived at the school, I found that the rest of Year 6 had dug up an impressive amount of information on me as well. I got excited and took photos. (It reminded me of those big boards you sometimes see in cop shows, upon which the detectives pin information about their chief suspect. Suddenly I felt a bit like a master criminal on the run.)
In the school library I talked to Year 6 about the writing process and A Face Like Glass.
They responded with some very interesting questions, including quite a few I’d never been asked before.
Q: When you’re travelling, do people run up to you and ask for your autograph, or do you have a bodyguard?
A: No, it’s not like being a film actor. Even people who read my books don’t necessarily know what I look like.
Q: Why do you create such vivid characters?
A: Because I believe that real people are vivid. Sometimes even people you’ve known for years can do surprising and wonderful things if you put them in a different situation.
Q: Are there any of your characters that scare you?
A: Yes – for example, Goshawk in Fly by Night.
Q: Where is the place you most enjoy being?
A: I am happiest when I am on the way to somewhere else. I love travelling, hiking, being on the move.
Q: Can you put me in one of your books?
A: I’m afraid not! If I did, then I’d have to include everybody else who asked, and then the books would get really, really crowded…
After a brief flurry of signings (mostly of people’s hands), I headed down the road to Icknield Community College, where I met the Book Club. They listened to my blathering incredibly patiently, despite the fact that I was standing between them and lunch.
Again, there were many thoughtful and unusual questions.
Q: Are there any worlds you’ve created which you would want to live in?
A: Goodness, no. All the worlds I create are ‘broken’ in some way, full of injustice and peril. It’s much easier to write adventures in that sort of world.
Q: Is there one of your characters that is your favourite to write?
A: My favourite character is probably Mosca, but there are others who almost write themselves. I find it very easy to write Eponymous Clent’s speech – in fact it’s difficult getting him to shut up.
Q: Can you give me any tips on co-authoring?
A: Writing with another author is very hard, so it’s important to plan ahead, and make sure you have the same ideas about the destiny of the story and characters.