Linda Bailey

Interviewed by Elizabeth Leung

Linda Bailey is a reader, traveller, daydreamer, and the award-winning author of more than two dozen books for children.  Born in Winnipeg, she has travelled around the world by ship, working in England and Australia.  She earned a B.A. and M.Ed. at the University of British Columbia and later worked as a travel agent, college teacher, instructional designer and editor.  Linda didn’t begin to write in earnest until she had two daughters, Lia and Tess, and published her first book in 1992.  She has since written more than twenty others, including novels, picture books, graphic novels, and non-fiction.  Her books have travelled as widely as she has and have been published in places such as Greece, Latvia, Korea, China, Australia, Denmark, U.K., France, and Poland. 

Linda now lives in Vancouver within strolling distance of the sea.  She is a full-time writer and still loves to read, travel, and daydream.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Linda over email. 

On your website you describe how life as a writer snuck up on you.  Can you tell us what steps you took once you finally decided to publish your first book, How Come the Best Clues Are Always in the Garage?

Actually, it wasn’t my first book. At the time I finished that first novel, I had already been writing and submitting for five or six years — all picture books. I had gotten encouraging nibbles from publishers, but no bites. I had also learned a few things, including the fact that it’s extremely hard to break in with a picture book manuscript. Why? Because the slush pile is ceiling-high! Publishers receive a deluge of picture book manuscripts from people (including movie stars) who have never, and will never, do any serious writing but who read a picture book one day and think, “Is that all? Jeez! Short, easy. Even I could do that!” Two days later, they fire off a manuscript. When I figured that out, I decided to try a different genre. 

At that time, there was a popular adult genre that was a lot of fun — female/feminist, slightly hardboiled detective novels, usually with a strong hit of humour. I wondered if I could do that kind of novel for kids. I wrote a couple of pages about a smart-mouthed girl named Steve Diamond — and was hooked. Several hundred pages and multiple drafts later, I submitted How Come the Best Clues Are Always in the Garbage? to Kids Can Press. It got an offer within two months. They liked the book, yes. But it was also, I imagine, the only female funny 12-year-old Canadian detective story they had received that day/week/month or maybe year. So it got my toe in the publishing door. (P.S. It also got my picture books in the door. To date, I have 15 published picture books.)

[Read more…]

Philip Reeve

11221446_890212321024294_334471840868687876_oInterviewed by Ray Clark

Philip Reeve is the award-winning UK-based author of many beloved books for children and young adults, including the Mortal Engines and Goblins series, Here Lies Arthur, and most recently, Railhead. He has collaborated with artist Sarah McIntyre on a series of illustrated books, and has illustrated numerous books himself, in addition to his work in film, theater, and even a musical. In 2001 he published his first novel, Mortal Engines, which went on to win the Smarties Gold Award, the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award, and the Blue Peter “Book I Couldn’t Put Down” Award. Mortal Engines was my first introduction to Reeve’s writing, and it captivated me immediately with its fascinating world and richly nuanced characters. I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with him online recently about his thoughts on writing and the creative process.

Before writing novels, you worked as an illustrator and in small stage productions and films. You’ve mentioned films such as Star Wars and John Boorman’s Excalibur as inspirations. To what extent would you say that your experience in fiction outside the world of books influences your writing?

I think a lot of my influences come from films, TV, art, etc. When I was growing up I loved books, but I think I loved films and TV equally – it’s the story and the imagery that matters, not the form. When I started writing Mortal Engines it really was because I didn’t have the means to put it on film. There’s always a very strong visual element to my stuff: most of my books are basically me describing a movie which I’m screening in my head.

[Read more…]

Gail Carson Levine

Interviewed by Monika Davies

gailcarsonlevine_photoGail Carson Levine has been a prolific children’s author since she published her debut novel, the widely beloved Ella Enchanted, a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. She has since published a remarkable collection of novels for young readers, including Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults, Ever, Fairest, The Wish, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, The Fairy’s Return, A Tale of Two Castles, and several others. She is also the author of two picture books, Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie, the nonfiction Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly, as well as her newest, Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It, False Apology Poems.

Gail has a keen sense for what will resonate with young readers, and her characteristic wit and humour are key aspects of all of her published works. She is also a great encourager and supporter of budding authors, and her blog is a robust compilation of advice for writers young and old.

Having grown up immersed in the imaginative and colorful worlds of Gail’s novels, I was delighted to have the chance to interview her via email from her home in Brewster, New York.

Who were the writers you admired most when you first began writing? Which authors most excite you now as a reader?

I began writing for children when I was thirty-nine, and I read most of the Newbery bookcase at my local library. I especially loved Joan Aiken and E. L. Konigsburg. At the moment, oddly enough, I’m a full-time student going for a Masters of Fine Arts in poetry, and poetry is what I’m reading. I admire Sharon Olds, Ted Kooser, James Wright, Robert Hayden, Lisel Mueller, and many more. [Read more…]