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What is your favorite writing and reading genre?
I read pretty much anything and everything. For instance, the books that I’ve read most recently are Nell Zink’s latest novel, the very enjoyable Nicotine; Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason, one of a long-running series of pleasingly downbeat Icelandic crime novels; Hunts in Dreams by Tom Drury, the follow-up to his wonderful The End of Vandalism; and Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb, a magnificent picture book which I’ve read to my daughters many times over.
Where and how did you get your idea for your books?
I wish I knew the answer to this question. If I did, I would go there more often. Ideas pop into my head at the most unexpected moments. Some of them flit away, and others stick around, refusing to be forgotten. Those are the ones worth turning into a book.
If a movie or TV show would be created for your books, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead roles for your books?
It’s a difficult question, because some of the most important characters in my books are animals. A dog, for instance, in the Grk books. And a dragon in the Dragonsitter books. And other important characters are children, and I don’t have any idea who might play them. But I do have an idea for who might play Harvey Trelawney, the uncle of Tom Trelawney in The Island of Thieves and The Sultan’s Tigers. He’s a tricky man who enjoys living on the precarious border between right and wrong, legal and illegal, and I would be very happy if he was played by Sam Rockwell.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It was never really a decision. I just wrote and wrote. I wrote some plays, some films, some journalism, some diaries, some books, and eventually seemed to have become a writer.
How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published?
My first book, A Dog Called Grk, took a couple of years to write, then a couple of years to find a publisher, and didn’t appear in print until a couple of years after that. So the whole process took an extremely long time.
Do you ever get writer's Block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?
I get writer’s block every day.
What is the average time for you to write a book?
It depends how long the book is. My Dragonsitter books are fairly short (The Dragonsitter, The Dragonsitter Takes Off, The Dragonsitter’s Castle, etc.) So they take a few weeks. Novels like A Dog Called Grk or Island of Thieves take about a year from start to finish, from the first word of the first draft to the final word of the final draft.
For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books?
Definitely books. I have a kindle, and I like its convenience, but I don’t particularly enjoy using it. I love the details of a book, and the thought that has gone into creating it. The craft of a designer, a publisher, a printer, all coming together, along with the work of a writer and an editor.
How are the covers made for your books?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t really know. They are created by brilliant artists and designers, but I have very little to do with the process.
What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?
I only really have one piece of advice: if you want to writer, first you must be a reader. Read anything. Read everything. You’ll learn more than you can imagine from reading other people’s books.
What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?
I have two young children, so I don’t have much free time. But I like to walk, preferably in the countryside. If you gave me a few free days right now, I’d take the overnight train to Scotland, and lace up my boots first thing in the morning, and walk through the mountains.