Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Lauren St John

Lauren StJohnLauren St John was born in Gatooma, Rhodesia, now Kadoma, Zimbabwe. At the age of eleven she and her family moved to Rainbow’s End farm in Gadzema, which later became the subject of her memoir, Rainbow’s End. She is the author of the multi award-winning children’s series, The White Giraffe, Dolphin Song, The Last Leopard and The Elephant’s Tale. Dead Man’s Cove, the first in her mystery series featuring 11-year-old detective, Laura Marlin, who lives in St Ives, Cornwall, won the 2011 Blue Peter Book of the Year Award.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Ideas come from everywhere - from life experiences or things I might read in the newspapers or hear about from friends, or simply from my imagination

What comes first - plot, character or situation?

They tend to all come into my head at once

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

I don't believe in writer's block. It's a luxury for amateurs.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Read, read, read, read and don't ever give up.

Do you have favourite authors or books? Who are they?

I love thrillers like Henning Mankell's books or classics like Jane Eyre.

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

I love Famous Five books and a horse series by Patricia Leitch. The first one, For the Love of a Horse, is my favourite.

At what stage did you know you wanted to become an author?

When I was 10

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

All the time

Do you feel a tension between writing what you know will sell and writing what you would like to write?

No. I only write what I want to write, from the heart. If you set out to write for money, you will almost certainly fail.

How much does your editor change what you write? What relationship do you have with your editor?

Editors never change what authors write. My editor makes suggestions such as, 'This character doesn't really work because they're too dark/too nice/too something.' It's then up to me to decide how or if I'm going to change them.

What control do you have over your book cover (and your illustrations)?

It's a collaboration between my publisher and I.

Do you write with a particular age group in mind? How does the target age group affect your writing?

Sort of, but not particularly. I write the book I want to write. I never change my vocabulary or write down to children.

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

I would have liked to have been a vet.



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