Welcome to our inaugural Ask the Author post! In these series published authors will share their experiences with us, allow us a glimpse into their creative processes, and shed some light on the steps that helped them become a published writer. We do hope that emerging authors or writers-in-the-making will find these interviews useful.
About the Author: Pen Avey, writer/ illustrator of The Dear Earthling series published by Common Deer Press.
What do you write about?
When I'm writing for children I lean towards fantasy or sci-fi. I love to include at least one cantankerous old woman in my stories, as they are fun to write, and can add a lot of humour.
Why do you write?
I love it! I can't imagine not writing.
What do you love about it?
One day you are holding the germ of an idea in your head; delicate but with potential. Fast forward a few months and you're holding a manuscript in your hands; fully formed.
What's not to love?
How long did it take you to write your first book?
It took me over a year, as I chipped away at it.
What inspired it and what motivated you to finish the story?
I wanted to write a funny book that could easily be dipped into. The exciting prospect of getting it published motivated me to finish the first draft.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Sometimes I don't feel like writing, yet I know that forcing myself will often draw out my best work. Also, rejection can wear my spirit down from time to time, but it's all part of the process.
What do you do besides writing?
I teach English and maths to teenagers who need a little extra help building these skills.
Describe your ideal writing weather?
I live in England and the weather varies tremendously - often over the course of just one day! Therefore the weather doesn't affect my writing at all.
Where do you write best? What is your preferred writing space?
Somewhere quiet, without distractions.
Time of day?
Evening, or early morning.
Inspiration or discipline?
Both! I'm in a routine where I'll write (or illustrate) every day, but sometimes ideas pop into my head when I'm in bed, trying to sleep. I've been known to scrawl an idea onto the back of a magazine in lip pencil.
How do you overcome the writer’s block?
This tends to hit me when there's a problem with my story that I don't know how to solve. Like loosening a knot, it takes time for my brain to work through a problem so I take the pressure all the way off and do something else for a while.
The First Publication
How did it feel when you got your first acceptance letter?
Like walking on air! It's wonderful knowing that someone else loves your story enough to publish it.
Who was the first person you shared the news with?
My husband and daughter at the same time. We were travelling to stay with family over Christmas and I got an email while in the car. I rang my other daughter straight away to tell her the good news.
How did you mark the occasion?
With a large glass of wine!
If you could talk to a writer, alive or dead, who would it be? What would you ask them?
I would ask Roald Dahl if he'd give me notes on my latest manuscript!