Now here's my interview with Maggi Gibson - author of the Seriously Sassy series!
Three children's books out so far, but I had published four collections of poetry for adults before that, and written for radio. I don't have a fave as such, but I'm always really enthusiastic about the one I'm working on at any given point.
So Maggi, where did you first start? What was your inspiration?
I first wrote a story for younger readers when I was tutoring a junior writing group. Then some time later I was teaching kids who'd got into a lot of trouble at school and I thought I should write a story based on their experiences. That was called Broken Dolls, but hasn't found a publisher.
What was the first book you've published?
How long did it take you to publish?
Writing the first book was very fast. From first rough draft to finished story was about 4 months. Then I got a publishing deal. Then there was a l-o-o-o-o-ong wait before Seriously Sassy came out in April 2009.
How long have you wanted to be an author for?
I kind of wanted to be an author - and a ballerina and an Olympic swimmer and a dozen other things from I was about nine years old. But i didn't think people like me - I was from a very ordinary family - ever did exciting things like that!
How long on average does it take you to write a book? How long on average does it take you to get a good idea?
I find ideas easy. My head's always teeming with them. But shaping them into a book is another thing. Sometimes a book can take a year, at other times a few months. Some just come out easier than others. It also depends on what else you have to do. My mum was ill in 2010 and that made it hard to get lots of writing done.
What is your favourite book written by somebody else?
One of my faves is Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy. I love Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver. I like Sophia Bennett's books too. And a classic favourite is Anne of Green Gables.
Have you had any other jobs, or wanted to have another job?
I studied languages at university, then taught French and German in secondary schools. I taught English in Paris too, which was fun. I also specialised in teaching children with behavioural issues, which was very demanding but rewarding.
Have you ever wanted to be somebody else?
No, not at all. I think it's important to love the person you are!
How did you cope as a teenager, I mean, how did you do with spots and stuff?
Aaaaargh! The spots!!! Sometimes I was a spot-free zones, other times I was a pizza-faced monster. That was hard. I was very, very shy too for a while. I hated having to speak to strangers. I couldn't hold eye contact and I muttered and turned raspberry. But on the plus side, I had a great group of friends and we had lots of fun. That's what I try to recapture in my writing.
What is your most treasured possesion? Why?
Ooooh, that's a hard one. I have my Mum's engagement ring, and that means a lot to me. But so does the keyring my daughter gave me 17 years ago - it says 'Number One Mum' on it! But it's important to remember these are only things. I treasure people much more. And I lose things all
Who is your favourite author?
My fave author for grown ups is called Margaret Atwood. My fave for younger readers has to be my super friend, Cathy Cassidy.
Is Maggi Gibson your REAL name??
It is! Well, that is, I was named Margaret McRoberts. What a mouthful! I shortened Margaret to Maggi when I was teen and trying to work out who I was, then I changed my surname to Gibson when I married my first husband, Jim Gibson.
Why did you want to become an author?
I LOVED books and reading when I was a child, so being an author, being able to offer the pleasure of reading to young readers seemed like an important thing to do. I like being my own boss too, and as a writer I am.
Have you ever got any fan-presents?
Not many, but those I have had are lovely. A bag of chocolate mice and a lovely thing I don't know what to call! It's my name on wooden beads, laced with other coloured beads. (I don't have the choccy mice any more!)
How many pets have you got? Have they influenced your writing in any way?
i live in the city now, so don't have any. But when my children were growing up we lived out in the country and had dogs, cats, a huge white rabbit, ducks, hens, hamsters and a guinea fowl! I always have at least one animal in my stories, and i base them on pets I used to have. Brewster in the Seriously Sassy books is based on my lovely old black lab/collie cross, Bramble.
What do you do when your stuck on what to write?
I eat chocolate mice! Seriously though, I take a break, go for a walk, do anything except think too much about the problem. Usually my subconscious mind sorts the problem out, then I can get wired into the story again.
Do people chase after you in the streets and beg you for autographs?
Haha! No. I'm not sure if I would like that. Though I did ask Scottish singer Paulo Nutini for his autograph when I saw him in Fopp at Christmas. It was for my daughters, so I had to ask him to do two!
Do you have a special writing place?
Not really. But I only write onto my laptop, Janey-Mac. Anywhere I can be comfortable and warm and have Janey-Mac plugged in works for me. I do have a desk, but there's so much clutter on it...
Have you got any tips for young writers?
Read lots of books. Some books are better than others. Try to work out why you think that is, and you'll start to learn the secrets of how to make a story work. Then play at writing. Have fun with it. And if you really want to do it, keep trying!