Josh Lacey is the author of several books for children, including Bearkeeper, The Dragonsitter and the Grk books. We were lucky enough to catch up with Josh, find out what it's like being a writer for children, and get some tips for any Reading Activists who are thinking about a similar career.
What does a day in the life of a children's author look like?
I'm writing this at eight o'clock in the morning on a train to Kent where I'll be spending the day in a primary school, talking about my books and teaching creative writing classes with groups of children. So, quite often, a typical day involves getting up early, tiptoeing out of the house and crossing the country to visit a school.
On those days, I won't usually write anything. I might manage to do a little editing or dream about my story while I'm staring out of the window on the train, but I'm more likely to spend my time reading a book by someone else.
Writing days are quite different. I shut myself in my study - a small room at the top of the house - and stare at the screen of my computer, and tap out words.
What advice would you give to any aspiring young writers?
My main piece of advice is very simple: read. A writer needs to be a reader first. Read anything and everything. You'll discover what works and what doesn't, what you love and what you hate.
Two other things: 1) You could do a creative writing course. 2) You could get a job in publishing or bookselling or some other part of the wider industry. I didn't do either of those, but I have seen how useful both have been to other writers.
When did you decide you wanted to become a writer and how did you set about pursuing this goal?
I can't remember when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, but I've always been a great reader; I was a passionate reader as a kid, escaping from my own life through the adventures of Tintin, Charlie Bucket, Bilbo Baggins, etc, etc, etc - and my love of those books is, I imagine, why I write for children myself.
How did I become a writer? By writing. I wrote a lot. I amassed a large collection of rejection letters. I wrote more. Finally one of those letters said "yes" instead of "no".
What are your favourite and least favourite things about the job?
My favourite thing about being a writer is the solitude: I love being alone with a story that has emerged from my own imagination, pursuing its twists and turns, seeing where it leads me.
My least favourite thing about being a writer is the solitude: sitting alone in a dark room while the sun is shining and the rest of the world is outside, chatting and laughing. That is why I enjoy the additional aspects of being a children's writer: visiting schools, talking to children, teaching creative writing, and so on.
What do you do when you get writer's block?
I get writer's block every morning. I get it from looking at a blank screen. The only cure is to throw some words down and shuffle them into some kind of order.
Is there a creative words-based career that you would like to know more about? Get in touch to let us know and we'll see if we can find someone to interview and tell you more.
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