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  Q + A

How did you become a writer?
By writing. Seriously.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Not in the professional sense of the word. It's just part of who I am. I need to write. I must write. If I don't, I get all restless and feel like something's missing, like I'm not doing what I should be doing. So I don't think it's that I always wanted to be a writer - it's more like I just had to figure out how to cultivate and release what has always been inside me.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Good question! I don't even know. Ideas have this habit of popping up from nowhere and everywhere all at once. They're very sneaky, unpredictable little things. And if you aren't quick enough, they'll disappear just as fast as they appeared - kind of like those little amusement park gophers you have to try to bop on the head with a rubber mallet before they disappear back into their holes. So as a writer it's my job to be prepared to grab the little guys whenever and wherever they show up. And, of course, once I've got a hold of one I've also got to be prepared to keep it entertained or else it'll get bored and go looking for someone else to play with.

What are some of your favourite books?
I love Sally Gardner's books, namely I CORIANDER, THE RED NECKLACE, and most recently MAGGOT MOON. I also adore Markus Zusak's, THE BOOK THIEF, Neil Gaiman's CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, and Kenneth Oppel's new THE APPRENTICESHIP OF VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN series. And I'm absolutely mad for Dr. Seuss!

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a writer?
First of all: READ. And when you read don't just read; enter the stories. Experience them. That way, you can add those experiences to your own personal experiences and the pool of creativity that you need to pull from when you write will widen and deepen. Not to mention, the pop-up idea gophers will multiply as a result as well. Also, become interested in anything and everything in the world around you. Use your senses and commit to memory smells, sounds, tastes, sights, and textures. Practice composing descriptions of those things as if you had to describe them to someone who'd never experienced them before. How would you describe the sound of snoring, the taste of a pomegranate, the smell of a sewer? Furthermore, you must also be a very keen observer of people: Study how they interact, walk, talk, eat, sit, sleep, cry, laugh ... You get the picture. And finally, never go anywhere without something to write with, preferably a notebook and a pen. But a gum wrapper will do in a pinch.

Are you going to write more books?
Yes. Many more.

Do you follow a routine when you write?
No. I wish I could offer you a fail-proof writing plan, but I can't survive with routine for very long - it suffocates me. I need to live within a certain degree of chaos. That's how I operate. The only thing I can tell you that would be anywhere near routine would be that I have a big mug of coffee every morning. (Although, some people may consider that an addiction, not a routine ) A friend of mine has a great motto: Make a plan, change the plan. But most times, I don't even get to the "make a plan" part!

Which of your characters is most like you?
All of them have a bit of me in them. I can't say that any one of them is more like me than any other. (Although, I do constantly have internal monologues like Smudge does!)

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