Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Alan Gibbons

Alan GibbonsAlan Gibbons has been writing children's books for seventeen years. He is the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2000 'The book I couldn't put down' for his best-selling book Shadow of the Minotaur. He was a judge of the 2001 Awards. Alan has been a teacher for 16 years, working with KS1, KS2 and KS3. He has made numerous visits to schools and libraries, colleges and education conferences. He is a popular speaker at the Edinburgh Festival, the London Book Fair, the Northern Children's Book Festival, the Hay-on-Wye Festival, the Cheltenham Festival and many others.

When you start to write a book, do you know how it will end?

Yes, I always have a good idea but it often changes as I work on it.

Do you base your characters on real people?

I do but I don’t base a character on any one person. It is more that a character develops out of the accidental day to day observations you make.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do about it?

Not really. I get stuck but I just work through it or do something else for a while.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

I can’t really think of anything particularly hard, to be honest. Everyone would like to be more successful but we are doing something we love.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Making up stories. It is great fun.

 What inspired you to write?

I read a lot when I was a kid and later in life that love of story led me to want to write myself.

At what stage in your writing process do you use a computer?

All the time. I might make a few notes on a pad, but virtually the whole process is done on my laptop.

How much does your editor change what you write?

She makes suggestions. Sometimes they are major, but it is up to me what to do about them.

What do you think you would be if you weren’t an author?

I would still be a teacher. I really enjoyed it and felt very fulfilled but I no longer have to take any notice of the daft ideas politicians come up with about education.

What is your attitude to kindles and ebooks?

They are just another form of reading. My books are coming out simultaneously in paper and e book formats.

What was your favourite book(s) when you were a child?

I have a few: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Treasure Island, Emil and the Detectives.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Anyone who wants to be a writer already reads so the main thing is to think about what you read, see how the writer constructs it, then use some of those skills as you develop your own personal voice. There are no quick fixes. It is all trial and error.

Share this page: