Hello again, Friends,
I had a special request from James to add his interview to today’s post because he’s in the middle of a promotional campaign AND because it’s his birthday. So of course, I honored his request, though I feel like WE are the ones getting the treat! Between his and Amy Doepker’s interview earlier today, I just LOVE all the writing going on. Happy Friday, everyone!
Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, James Hallsworth, had some very fun responses which I’m sure will delight you, as well. (I don’t know about you, but I always love reading about the inner-tickings of children’s authors!) After you read his interview, please be sure to hop on over to his blog and follow him for a regular dose of his charm. And now, I turn the microphone over to James…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
James Hallsworth (my real name). I’m a British children’s author, I live with my two young sons in the city of Sheffield.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
3 .How many books have you written?
I’ve completed four (currently un-illustrated) children’s stories and I have a further 10 or so in various stages of creation.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
My first picture book (illustrated by the wonderful Helen Braid) is called Mrs Vyle and is available to order now thru www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/MrsVyle
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I will hopefully be publishing through Britain’s Next Bestseller.
Britain’s Next Bestseller are trying to transform the publishing industry by allowing writers to pitch their books directly to the reading public. My book is available to pre-order now and if I achieve a target number of pre-orders within a specific timeframe, I will get a publishing deal with Britain’s Next Bestseller.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
From being very small I’ve always written ‘something’. From English lessons at school and college to trying to be the next Monty Python with my teenage friends; from writing in University magazines to technical documents in my IT career, I’ve always been attracted to the creative craft and enjoyed the acclaim you get from writing.
I became a father for the first time in 2007 and I knew I wanted to be a children’s writer a little while later after I’d re-acquainted myself with the wonderful world of children’s books. I’ve written about this epiphany in my WordPress blog.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
It’s not dreams of fame and fortune – although the latter would be nice! I’m motivated to write because it sets my brain free (I have a 9 to 5 job that does its best to kill off any creative thinking) and I dream of making a living from something that I love doing, rather than just making a living.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
I grew up with Roald Dahl’s stories with Quentin Blake’s pictures – I definitely had their work in mind when I was creating Mrs Vyle – there’s an impish and boisterous quality about their books that inspires me to write the stories I do. They’ve created some of the greatest and timeless children’s stories ever and I still enjoy reading them even now.
As an adult, Douglas Adams is the only author whose books I read over and over again. I’m currently starting his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series again (for about the millionth time)
In terms of current children’s authors, I admire anyone that can create the perfect story in such a short form of writing and , at the minute, Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) probably does that more often than most.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I have no preference really. It’s the story (and pictures) that matter to me rather than what I’m reading it on. Although it has to be said that you don’t get that ‘book smell’ with a Kindle!!
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
All of my stories rhyme, so I write in whatever tense/style that works best with the words I’m using – sometimes I will switch part way through if it helps with the narrative ‘flow’.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I have a hectic life with a full-time job and two young children, but I try to read every day (even if it’s just a newspaper)
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
Not enough, unfortunately.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
It’s a children’s picture book. It’s written as a rhyme which sets it apart a little in the marketplace. More importantly, I’m very lucky to have a hugely talented illustrator (Helen Braid) who provides some unique visuals to my words.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
The inspiration for Mrs Vyle came from my eldest son, who happened to mention that his teacher was a creature (he was in a particularly bad mood that day because all of his teachers are, in fact, wonderful). That rhyme sparked something in my head and the story progressed from there – kids are cool like that!
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
It’s aimed at young children (roughly 7 years-old and under) but I also write with the adult reader in mind – I want adults will enjoy reading a story as much as kids love listening to it.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
It’s about a strange new teacher that is not all that she seems and about the brave schoolchildren who uncover the truth about the imposter. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s full of slobber, smells and funny noises – all the stuff that kids love!
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
Not as often or regularly as I’d like. I have a full-time job, so even though I try to write daily, I only get to write for an hour during my lunch break. My boys take up the evenings and weekends…
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
It depends, in a particular session I could do up to 300 (which, for a picture book, is a third to a half of the whole word count) – in another I could spend the whole time trying to find one perfect word…
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I do my own.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I usually start with a title, single sentence or a rhyme that sparks an idea. I then list out some more rhyming words that are linked to the idea and from this initial list I’ve a good indication if the story has ‘legs’ or not.
Then I start writing (almost always without any idea about how the story will end) and try to get a least two verses drafted straight away. In the next session, I’ll refine the initial verses and try to draft the next one or two, and so on…
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
Isaac, my eldest son has a great imagination and he’s provided me with some great ideas for stories – including Mrs Vyle!
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
It depends. One of my completed (un-published) stories was written very quickly (about 3 weeks). On the other hand, I still have several stories that I’ve been intermittently working on for several years!
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
I never set a time limit, if a story’s not going anywhere I’ll drop it, start something else and come back to it later with a fresh mind. I don’t think you can ‘force’ a story – you need to let it develop as naturally and as purely as possible.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
Usually because they rhyme with lots of other words!!
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
I start with a list of rhyming words and (maybe, but not always) a sentence about the plot. That’s all!
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
I find a pint of my favourite lager in my favourite seat in my favourite pub helps to get the creative juices flowing…
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
The Wig & Pen pub is conveniently close to where I work for my lunchtime writing sessions – I always try to get the same seat near a window overlooking the street outside, this helps my mind to wander and conjure up silly thoughts…
29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
30. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
I have an un-published manuscript called ‘Duck is Stuck’, which is my favourite so far. Not because it’s better than my other stories, but because I wrote it so quickly and it came so naturally (I wish all of my work was so easy).
31. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
I’d love Ricky Gervais to do the voices for an animated version of Mrs Vyle!
Thank you, James, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have. (P.S. Happy Birthday!)