Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus SedgwickAlongside a 16 year career in publishing Marcus Sedgwick established himself as a widely-admired writer of YA fiction; he is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Branford-Boase Award for a debut novel (Floodland), and the Booktrust Teenage Prize (My Swordhand is Singing). His books have been shortlisted for over thirty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (four times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times).

Where does your inspiration come from?

I don’t want to be difficult but I find it almost impossible to give a helpful answer to this question! The short answer is, anywhere.

What comes first – plot, character or situation?

That depends on the book, but usually plot, then situation, then character.

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

Not very often. I’m not sure it actually exists outside of a failure to prepare properly.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t think too much about it. Just write and enjoy it.

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

It’s almost impossible to answer this question too. I like too many to list.

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

The Dark is Rising, The Changes, The Gormenghast Trilogy, Arthur Ransome

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

She doesn’t change much structurally, but we usually work on characterisation a bit for the rewrite of a book.

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

Sometimes, but at the end of the day you must write what you want to. And then HOPE it will be commercial.

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

Notes are by hand in a book, or on my iphone if I’m out. I write the first draft straight onto my mac.

What control do you have over your book cover?

A have high level of input on covers these days, though less so when I started out.

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

No, I don’t think about the age of my readership, too much. Not when writing the first draft, at least.

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

Quite late in life – late twenties maybe…

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

A musician maybe. Or unemployed.

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