As our fabulous short story writing competition for primary schools is well under way, we wanted to find out from our competition ‘prize’, children’s author Vivian French what inspires her to write, and whether she has some good tips for all the young – and old – writers out there.
1. What was your favourite book when in school?
Oh! This is really difficult! I liked so many books. I LOVED all Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, especially The Steadfast Tin Soldier, but I also read Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth over and over again.
2. Where do you find inspiration to write?
I’d like to think I get inspired – but actually, it hardly ever happens. I have to work really hard to make any ideas I have make sense. I write loads of notes, and I write the first chapter at least six times before I’m happy with it; once that happens, I can keep going … but not always!
3. If you ever get a ‘writer’s block’ – what do you do to get over it?
You can’t get writer’s block when you write for a living! If I got it I’d panic! If I get stuck I work on something else for a while, or go for a walk to clear my head. (H’m. I’m not being quite truthful here. Usually I go for a walk down the road to see my friend Ellie, and have a cup of coffee and a good moan …)
4. What are you working on right now?
A new series called Stargirl Academy (it’s about girls learning magic!), a non-fiction book about horses, and the final book in my series Tales from the Five Kingdoms. It’s going to be called The Snarling of Wolves, and I’m really looking forward to getting on with it.
5. What advice would you give to young writers?
1. Read, read, READ – and if you find reading hard work, get someone to read to you – or listen to story CDs. There are lots in your local library.
2. Don’t worry if your story doesn’t feel right to begin with.
Keep writing … and then go back and change the bits you don’t like. I sometimes have to rewrite stories over and over again. It sounds boring, but it isn’t – your story will be LOADS better.
3. Have fun! If you enjoy writing your story, your reader will enjoy it too.
Thank you Vivian, and best of luck to all the schools who have entered our competition so far – we’ll be posting some of the best stories here on our blog, so make sure you sign up to receive our posts by email!