Friday, 31 October 2008

Gill James

Gill is the one in red, waving her arms around.

What inspired you to write “Mantek’s Journey”?

I always try and write a story for Christmas time. I usually post this for free but with a Creative Commons copyright notice. It all came about because I received some very nice handmade cards form people who are artistically talented. Now, I’m more into writing. It seemed a bit pretentious, though, to send everybody a copy of my stories. But I did post them on my Author’s Den site and invited friends to read them. I decided to invite other people to do the same and “Making Changes” came about. I particularly like to unpick Bible stories and work out what it must have been like for the people living at the time. But not all of my Christmas stories are to do with the Christian celebration. Take a look at them on my Auhtor's Den site.

What other material do you normally write?

I write mainly for 9-11 year olds and for Young Adults, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m also experimenting with a bit of life writing. I love blogging. I hate writing marketing copy – I don’t have the patience. As I’m a university lecturer I also have to write academic articles. They’re quite difficult but not unpleasant. My real passion, I guess, is my Young Adult fiction.

What made you become a writer?

I always loved writing and I always had this vision of me being a writer. At one time I wanted to be the next Enid Blyton. Later, it was J K Rowling. It took me a long time to realize I could pursue that dream.
I used to be a teacher of foreign languages, mainly in comprehensive schools and took that as far as I could, having some success as Head of Department at a difficult school and getting better exam results and happier staff. Then I asked myself “What next?” A period at home with an ear problem gave me some time to get on with my writing. I loved it! So, that became the next thing to do.

Which writers do you admire?

Brooke Biaz, Maeve Binchy, Philip Pullman, Judy Waite, Tabitha Suzama, Aidan Chambers, Kate Atkinson, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, Heinrich Böll, Beverly Birch, Jane Austen, Stephen King – oh and so many others. Anyone who can fascinate me and entertain me, or thrill me with their wonderful writing. Some of my students are great as are many of my unpublished friends. And of course, the other authors in “Making Changes” are absolutely fabulous. If anyone writes well enough that I stop editing their work, and get absorbed in what I’m reading, they’re winners with me.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

I try to write for at least two hours a day and I like to write at least 2,000 words or edit between 6, 000 and 10,000. And I’m always very happy if I have a deadline looming and have to write more. I do notice, though, that I really slow down after the first 2,000 words so the extra hours are often less productive. This morning, for example, I completed well over 2,000 words in one and a half hours then hardly anything in the last half hour.
For years, I’d do my writing first and then everything else started at about 10.30. Now, though, I’m full-time at the university and also have to commute and get on the car park by 8.30 or I don’t get a slot. Some of my university work is writing, anyway. Now, I do my writing at the end of the working day and funnily often have more than two hours available. Plus there is one research day a week and I like to get about six hours’ writing done on that day. However, often things encroach on research days and I’ve actually only managed two this semester.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

Well, I’ve got a cosy study at home and I quite like my office at work. I do like to write straight on to the computer, but on the other hand I like the feel of holding a pen in my hand and touching the paper with my words. Trouble is, I can rarely read what I've written afterwards.
I can actually write anywhere, but keep myself away from windows with views – especially ones of busy streets – much too distracting.

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