Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Miriam Moss

Miriam MossMiriam Moss is an award winning author of over 75 books, including 30 picture books, poetry and short stories, with wide experience of working creatively with children and adults throughout the UK and abroad.

Where does your inspiration come from?

 It comes out of the blue - from anything I see, think, feel, touch, smell, taste – or imagine.

What comes first – plot, character or situation?

My stories come into focus in no particular order. The shape can be triggered by a feeling, a character, a place, a plot, two words working beautifully together or someone tying their shoe lace.

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

If I ever get stuck, I do something else (which may be a different kind of writing) and return to the troublesome piece later, with a fresh mind.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I’d say being a writer isn’t just about writing well (although it’s important) it’s about whether you have the character to stick at it. My advice, if you really want to be a writer, is to keep practising and not to give up.

What were your favourite books when you were a child?

When I was quite small, I read Grimms’ Fairy Stories folk tales from all over the world. Then I read Enid Blyton, Alan Garner, Tolkein and Agatha Christie. I delighted in Dickens, Edward Lear’s nonsense poems, Coleridge's Khubla Khan and Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci. But Mervyn Peake's novels, poems and wonderful drawings really took my breath away. They still do.

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

I always write what I’d like to read. It’s much easier to do it well.

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

I write the first draft on paper, then put the story on to the computer to go over and over and over it…

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

Publishers usually send me artists’ work for approval. I don’t pretend to know all about marketing and foreign rights, so I take my lead from publishers’ suggestions. The book cover is also a collaboration of sorts.

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

I’d really like to have been an olympic diver - or a composer or a painter.  Perhaps I’d have remained being a teacher and a mother, which I still am.

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

I didn’t. I fell into it. It’s been a nice fall. 

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