Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Interview with Caroline Plaisted

I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Plaisted for my blog.  Here is what she had to say.

1) Where are you from? 
I was born and bred in London where I lived for more than half my life. I now live in Kent. 

2) When and why did you begin writing? 
I worked in editorial departments in various publishing houses and then, after having my first child, I became a freelance editor. I'd done a couple of joke compilations in the past and had also done a fair bit of, shall we say, 'substantial editing' of other authors work. I hope it doesn't sound too big-headed if I say that I began to think I could write better than some of the authors I was editing. My freelance status and this thought combined with a friend (and former colleague) of mine becoming a literary agent. We had a conversation and I became one of her new authors. Since then, I have written, I think, more than 50 books.

3) Did you always want to be an author? 
No. I always loved reading and enjoyed creative writing but, until I was a teenager, I thought I wanted to be a dancer. After I got over that, I thought I wanted to work on a fashion magazine. 

4) How long each day/week do you dedicate to writing? 
It's important to write something every day. I usually write for between five and eight hours. These days, I tend to give myself the weekend off though. 

5) What do you do when you’re not writing? 
I read, walk dogs, sing with a choral society, knit and embroider, love listening to Radio 4 and Classic FM, and try my hand at gardening.

6) In your spare time what do you like to read? 
I love magazines, am addicted to newspapers (any one and every one!), indulge in reading blogs (I am so nosey!), enjoy modern fiction and 'chick lit' (although I can't stand that title), and lap up cookery, craft and gardening books alongside history books.

7) And what are you reading at the moment? 
THE TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by Ian Mortimer is my book of the week.

8) If you could work with any author, who would it be and why?
Now that's a good question! If it was a question of taking a fly-on-the-wall opportunity of seeing another author at work, it might be Enid Blyton or Charles Dickens (what sparked that ability to write so prolifically?). But if you mean exactly as the question says and who I would like to co-write with, I think it might well be Margaret Mahy who, very sadly, has just died. She had the most fabulous ideas, wrote with such joy and exuberance, and appealed to all ages. How I wish I could be as good as her.

9) When you were younger who were your favourite author? 
I remember crying when I got to the end of a book called MARY PLAIN AND THE BEARS. It was part of a series of books about some bears in a zoo and they were written by Gwynedd Rae. I also loved Rosemary Sutcliff, Roald Dahl, and devoured lots of non-fiction.

10) Are there any of your other novels that you would turn into a Movie or T.V. show if so which one and why? 
I would adore to see the GLITTER GIRLS in a television series. But I also love the two books I wrote with Cherry Whytock about a great girl called AMARYLLIS FLOWERDEW - she would make a great character on screen.

11) What inspires you to write your novel? 
My children, people I sit next to on the train, things that I read about in newspapers or hear about on the Radio. 

12) How do you come up with your story ideas? 
Same answer really as the previous question. Sometimes I think I've come up with the best title for a book ever (I would say that, wouldn't I?!) and I mull it over in my head until I come up with a plot to go with it. Other times, I might come up with the character(s) first. 

13) Are you working on anything new at the moment if so can you tell us anything about it? 
I am always working on something! I've just finished a new idea that I am excited about but it is early days... publishers might not like it... or they might love it... Watch this space!

14) Would you write more books to go with the Glitter Girls? 
Oh I would love to! I once talked with the editor of the series and we fantasised about writing more stories about the girls when they were a little bit older. But, that said, I think there are more adventures that the girls could get up to anyway!

15) If you could do it over again, is there anything you would change in any of your books? 
Hmmm... I'm not sure really. Whenever I do re-read anything I've written, I'm always surprised and think 'did I write that?' - that can be good or bad! Usually though, I am already writing a new book so I'm thinking about that rather than something already published. 

16) Who is your favourite character from your Glitter Girls books? 
When I was writing the books, it was always the character that I was writing about at that very minute. The great thing about writing books, is that you can become whichever character you want to be - it's like reinventing yourself with every book or every day! 

17) Out of all your books, which is your favourite character and why?
I've already mentioned AMARYLLIS FLOWERDEW but I also loved the two girls I created for a duet of books I wrote called 10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU ARE 16 and 10 WAYS TO COPE WITH BOYS because the girls were funny and feisty.

18) When writing about something you don't know much about where do you get your information? 
I'm nosey, like I said early! I'm always listening to people's conversations, I jot down funny things I hear people say, I keep the sound of someone's voice in my head and, when I write, I type in that timbre - does that make sense? Plus I research, read around a subject, and go and visit places. 

19) For you what is the easiest part of the book to write? 
The last chapter - but not necessarily the last sentence!

20) ...And the hardest? 
The first chapter - and always the very first sentence. I often write a chapter, knowing it is probably rubbish, and then go back the next day and start again. It's always easier to start your writing the next time when you've got something on the screen in front of you. There is nothing worse than a blank screen. At the end of every day, I start the next chapter. Even if I only write one sentence or a paragraph, it makes the next day begin on a more positive note.

21) How do you choose the names for your books and characters? 
Names of friends, names I love, sometimes I use the forenames of children who write to me - everyone has such great names!

22) Have you ever gotten rid of a character or changed a character in a book before publishing and then regretted it? 
No - although sometimes I might develop a character differently as a story unfolds. The action may change because of the character or the character may change because of the action. 

23) What advice would you give to someone who "ran out of creativity" while writing? 
Don't panic! Read a book written by someone else. Go for a walk and you may well be inspired to write about something that happens on the walk or something you see while you are walking. If that still doesn't help, leave it for a day and then go back to it. Then I refer you to question 20 above...

24) What do you do when you get writers block? 
Everything I've said in question 23 above! Although I wouldn't ever say I truly get a block. I usually just have a day when I don't think I've written very well. But then, as I said, you go back the next day and start tweaking... it always gets better after that!

25) Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I am so grateful that you read my books and I would like to thank you for that and the lovely letters you send me. Thank you so much! Oh - and I hope I keep writing books that you will want to read!

Thanks Caroline for taking the time to answer my questions much appreciated.

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