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Shakespeare (of course) and anything by Dickens, AS Byatt or CJ Sansom: I have eclectic tastes. My favourite children’s book of all time is The Silver Sword by Ian Seraillier, closely followed by Apache by Tanya Landman and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
Reading (naturally), swimming, choral singing, table tennis, walking, theatre and travel.
In the late 1980s. I was frustrated with the day time job (teaching but wanting promotion which wasn’t coming my way) I began moonlighting by sending on-spec articles about education to newspapers . . . and one thing led to another. But I always knew I could do it: I won a TV writing competition when I was 11.
From reading . . . . books, newspapers, magazines, websites and so on. I also keep my eyes and ears open and a notebook in my bag wherever I go. I am a professional writer – i.e. I do it to earn my living so a pile of unpaid bills on the corner of my desk helps too!
Usually by looking back through work I have already done in the past and then reading further and talking to people.
Just do it. No professional writer can afford to have ‘writer’s block’. Be disciplined. Set aside part of the house and get to your work station punctually each day. Make sure you write something every day to keep in practice – it’s a bit like jogging. Keep reading – it helps with style, expression and vocabulary (unconsciously) as well as providing ideas and information.
A new edition of my To Kill a Mockingbird study guide and linked teacher resource (for Hodder).
Twice-weekly online feature for The Stage plus other features and reviews, weekly column in SecEd, regular work for Child Care, Teaching Drama and The Independent on Sunday . . . and other things.
Talks about literacy, teaching English and, particularly, encouraging reading.