One Girl School – where do I get ideas?

A perennial question asked of authors is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’.  I’m always tempted to return the question, because everyone has ideas, just as everyone has a dream-life where all kinds of strange associations are made and unconscious storylines plotted.  And very often I’ll wake from my dream-world with an image in…

Yatesy’s Rap

My first year of teaching was a hellish experience.  I had spent three years studying under radical educationalist Ian Lister at York and knew all there was to know about deschooling, freeschooling and reschooling.  I was familiar with A.S .Neill’s famously experimental school Summerhill, and also the attempts to liberalise education at state schools such…

How I got published

I wrote my first novel in 1976 and was first published in 1984.  In between I had written maybe half a million words, graduated, teacher trained, and worked for five years as a comprehensive school and FE teacher.  But this, of course, was before the age of the internet and self-publishing, an age which has…

Little Stupendo: how to write backwards

In 1994 I was asked to write an early reader book by Wendy Boase, senior editor at Walker Books.  I had won my first contract with them in 1986 as an author of cutting edge teen fiction which no-one bought, but it was my picture book You’re A Hero Daley B which had got the…

The Last Free Cat: the story that went wrong

Back in 2002 I was in Lloyd George’s living room reading an excerpt from a teen novel I’d written – or rather, started to write, as I couldn’t make it work and had abandoned it after a few chapters. Also in the room was the redoubtable playwright Liz Lochhead, who had been in the audience…

Daley B: birth of a best-seller

I can honestly say that it had never been my ambition to write books for babies. This was probably a good thing. Once you realise that you can make more money writing a work of five hundred words than one of fifty thousand, there is inevitably a strong urge to do the former, even for…

The Sandbag Secret – and my own

In 1996 I was commissioned to write the first of a series of historical stories for Franklin Watts. The stories would fit in with the national curriculum and bring to life important historical episodes in an entertaining and memorable way.  The first story was to be about the London blitz: not a huge undertaking, but…