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Kate Mallinder


7 Questions

with Kate Mallinder, author of Summer of No Regrets

1. Why did you want to become an author?

I wanted to be a writer when I was at primary school, then I forgot that during my teens. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that my young son asked me what I’d wanted to be when I was little. I replied ‘a writer’ and he simply said ‘so why aren’t you trying?’ And that was it. I haven’t looked back.

2. Tell us about your new book Summer of No Regrets

Summer of No Regrets is feel-good escapism for teens, but without shying away from some big choices. It’s about four friends who have decided to have a regret-free summer and that means different things to each of them – Hetal goes away from home for the first time, Sasha spends the summer with her father in Switzerland, Cam looks for her birth father and Nell tries to leave her mum’s cotton wool by getting a job. But things don’t work out quite as planned, and in the end, it’s their friendship that gives them the strength they need.

3. What is your top tip for a newbie author?

Read lots, write lots and Just Keep Going.

4. Is there a book you've read and you wished you wrote?

Is there a book I haven’t felt that?! I love Jenny McLachlan’s books, my favourite of which is Truly, Wildly, Deeply. And Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series was wonderful.

5. Which character in your book is your favourite? 

Oh this is hard! I don’t think I can pick – I love all my main four characters. It would be hard to write them if I didn’t. There is a minor character who I just love though – Wendy, the deli owner. She’s got such a joie de vivre. I always smiled when I was writing her.

6. What or who inspires you to write?  

When I have an idea that won’t leave me alone, or a couple of hours free, but most of the time I write when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. I start writing and hope my inspiration gets the message.

7. What was your first thought when you held your book in your hands?

So many feels. I got my proof copy at London Book Fair; I was so worried I was going to cry all over the Firefly stand. But I didn’t. I just grinned so hard for the day that my face ached! I think it was that moment I finally actually believed my story was going to be a book. So happy and so proud of myself. The nerves came later!


Ross Welford



with Ross Welford, author of Time Travelling With A Hamster


My career as a TV producer was dwindling rapidly for a number of reasons.  I was unemployed and bored, and didn’t want to be like that for the rest of my life.  We were not poor but I couldn’t stand the idleness.


 I’ve never really considered how “important” the feedback is to me.  I get it quite a lot through school visits, for example, or Twitter, but it’s mainly just people being nice and I’m not sure that counts as “feedback”.  It’s lovely knowing that people read my books and enjoy them and I like meeting the kids and teachers at schools and so on.  If my books sold in minuscule numbers and garnered horrible reviews, then I'd probably take that as a sign that I should be trying something else.  Thankfully, though, that’s not the case! (Once, an Amazon reviewer pointed out a plot hole in “Hamster” which I was able to fix in subsequent editions, so that was good feedback!) 


It has no name - I’m just calling it BOOK 5 at the moment.  I’ve just started it a couple of days ago. It will change massively before it is published in January 2020.  These early stages are all about finding my way into a story to see if there is something there.  I’m also working on the final proofs of The Dog Who Saved The World which is out in January 2019. 


Finish it.  Get to the end, somehow, then go back and edit it.  You can’t edit a blank page.  And remember: it’s only a first draft.  No one's going to read it but you. 


I don’t think so.  For some people, just finishing the story and having it in book form completes their own “writing journey” and that’s fine.  But that’s not why I write.  If I had no readers, and wasn’t being paid I probably wouldn’t bother: I’m too lazy. Writing a book is REALLY hard! That said, there are self-pub writers who sell through Amazon, or who get in their car and hand-sell every copy and they can do OK, but it’s not for me (See “lazy” above).  Occasionally, self-pubs make the transition to trad publishing (e.g. Maz Evans’ “Who Let The Gods Out”) so it CAN be done.  If that’s you - good luck.  But it’s not me. 


I’m with the wonderful Silvia Molteni at the London agency Peters, Fraser & Dunlop.  A friend had a friend who worked at PFD who, after a LOT of pestering by me eventually got it into Silva’s hands.  Without that friend, it may not have happened, but nor would it without my pestering so - like so many things - it was a bit of luck and a bit of work. 


My wife and kids, I suppose.  My wife works hard in the City and if I didn’t write I’d be spongeing off her.  And I’d like to be a good example to my kids.  So family is part of it.  The rest is a contract.  A contract with a major publisher is a powerful incentive to sit at my desk and write one word after another after another until I have a book. 


Siobhan Curham


7 Questions

with Siobhan Curham, author of Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

1. Why did you want to become an author? 

My evil parents are to blame for my love of writing. They believed that TV was bad for a child’s imagination, so when I was growing up we didn’t have a television in the house, and this was in the days before internet and mobile phones, so I had a choice, either I learned to love books or I died of boredom. Thankfully, a love of books came easily to me. We had loads of books in our house and every Saturday my mum would take us to the library to stock up on new reads for the week. It wasn’t long before this love of reading led to a love of writing. I was constantly creating stories as a kid, either in my head or in little books made from folded up paper. Then, when I was a teenager and desperate to escape the council estate in London where I grew up, I started to see writing as my passport out of there. I stopped skiving off school and got my head down and worked my butt off so that I could go to university to study English Literature. Unfortunately, a crisis of confidence caused me to drop out of uni after two years – I didn’t think I had what it took to make it in the middle class world of writing – but the writing bug wouldn’t leave me and a few years later I wrote my first book. I’ve now had 25 books published – proof that you should never give up on your writing dream!

2. Tell us about Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow?

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow is my eighth book for young adults and it tells the story of a teenage Syrian refugee called Hafiz who ends up in the UK and a music-loving British girl called Stevie who is living in poverty. The novel tells the story of their friendship and how they encourage each other to triumph over adversity and pursue their dreams.

3. How did you come up of the idea for Hafiz and Stevie?

I wanted to use my platform as a YA author to shine a spotlight on certain issues that were really troubling me. The first was the refugee crisis and the heartless way in which refugees are treated by certain sections of the media and society, and the second was the level of poverty in the UK today and the fact that so many people are now reliant on foodbanks. Through the character of Stevie I drew on experiences from my own life growing up on an estate and the poverty I witnessed at first hand.

4. What is your all time favourite song? 

Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac is definitely one of them but London Calling by The Clash is my favourite of all time. It never fails to get me buzzing and I play it whenever I need a boost.

5. What is your top tip for a newbie author?

Write from the heart about the things that really matter to you. It can be all too tempting to ‘play it safe’ and write about the things you think publishers are looking for but chances are your writing will suffer for it. Interestingly the two YA novels of mine that I felt most passionately about have been the most successful in terms of critical acclaim. My debut YA novel Dear Dylan won the Young Minds Book Award in 2010 and Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow has just been nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal, which is a huge thrill!

6. You've written loads of books #goals If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only take one of your books which one would it be?

Well, it definitely wouldn’t be Shipwrecked (a supernatural thriller I wrote set on a desert island) as that would scare the hell out of me! I think I’d take my next non-fiction book for adults, Something More … a Spiritual Misfit’s Search for Meaning, (being published by Piatkus in February 2019), as it’s crammed full of exercises to keep you happy, peaceful and sane J

7. Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow has some diverse characters, which we love! What are your views on diversity in children's/YA books?

It frustrates me that children’s and young adult publishing is still so predominantly white and middle class but things are definitely changing and it’s encouraging to see publishers like Penguin Random House launching diversity initiatives.


Gillian McAllister



with Gillian McAllister, author of Everything But The Truth

1. Why did you want to become an author?

I never had a moment where I decided to become an author. It was just always something I wanted to do, unthinkingly, from the moment I picked up a novel. And it's the best job in the world. 

2. Tell us about your new book No Further Questions

No Further Questions is about who you entrust to take care of your child. Martha trusts her sister, Becky, to look after her child for two nights, but the child dies, and the police think it's murder. It's the story of the trial that will determine both sisters' fates.  

3. What is your favourite boxset at the moment? 

I actually am a bit rubbish at watching television, to be honest. I thought I would watch more once I went part time in my day job but alas, I spent all of my free time reading and writing! (Quite happily, I might add). I did really enjoy Keeping Faith recently.  

4. What is your top tip for a newbie author?

Write often, every day if possible. It's so easy to get caught up in the ancillary aspects of writing—social media presence, researching agents... but the fastest path to publication is bum-on-seat writing every day. Painful, but true. 

5. You're a Sunday Times Bestselling author—does that add pressure when writing a new book?

I don't feel pressure from my readership or publisher. Writing is still the solitary activity in the spare room that it's always been, one that I only speak about to my father, my boyfriend and my agent, Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson. I feel immensely privileged to have been launched by Michael Joseph, Penguin as a bestseller. You only need to wander around your local Waterstones to get a true sense of the scale of publishing, and there are only ten bestsellers a week. So mostly I feel hugely lucky. I'm not going to lie and say I'm super chilled in my first week of sales figures, though!

6. If you had a superpower what would it be?

Definitely invisibility. All that eavesdropping...

7. What or who inspires you to write?

Culture, I think. Good books. Art. Creative people. I recently saw a man in Tesco who had sewn up a tiny rip in his jacket and he inspired an entire character.



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Patrice Lawrence



7 Questions

with Patrice Lawrence, author of Indigo Donut

1.Why did you want to become an author? 

I have always written stories to articulate my world. I never thought I could be an author. I was lucky that teachers at school encouraged me to write, but I had no idea that someone like me could be an author.

2.Your books win prizes left right and centre (#GOALS)  Does that add any pressure to your writing? 

 I felt pressure with Indigo Donut, but hopefully what it does is enable me to write at my upmost best and not be complacent.

3.You're Italian and Trinidadian which equals AMAZING FOOD! What are your favourite dishes to eat? 

My biological father was Guyanese but I was brought up by my Italian stepdad. He worked in English hotel kitchens in the 70s and makes a great traditional English roasts and steaks. My mum's pillau (rice with beans and meat) is good and she cooks wonderful Italian food.

4. What is your top tip for a newbie author?

Don't judge yourself by other people. Find your own voice and write what you want - as best as you can.

5. Who's your favourite character Marlon or Indigo? 


6. Do you have a favourite YA author? 

I don't have a favourite at the moment  

7. What or who inspires you to write?  

I want to create worlds around marginalised people and those that get boxed in with stereotypes.  I also want to write books for and about the witty, diverse and creative young people I meet every day.

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Katherine Webber




with Katherine Webber, author of  Only Love Can Break Your Heart 

1. Why did you want to become an author? 

I've wanted to be an author since I was very young, but I didn't admit it and seriously start writing till I was 19

2. How many series of Sam Wu do you think you and Kevin will write? 

We've sold 3 but we'd love for there to be more! Ideally 10 in the whole series. 

3. What boxset are you obsessed with at the moment?

 I just finished binge watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! And recently Kevin and I have started re-watching Planet Earth for inspiration for a new project...

4. What is your top tip for a newbie author?

 Don't give up! And read as much as you can. And remember you write because you love it. 

5. Who's your favourite character Wing or Reiko?

I can't choose a favorite! I love them both for different reasons. Wing will always be special to me because she made my author dreams come true, but I'm very protective of Reiko because I think it is easy to misunderstand her. 

 6. Is there a book you've read and wished you wrote?

 My favorite author is Laini Taylor, but I don't wish I'd written her books because then I wouldn't have the joy of reading them! That said, I do wish I had her mastery of language! More recently, I read and loved The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert and I would love to write something like that one day. 

7. What or who inspires you to write? 

My biggest writing inspiration is probably my Grandma Kay, who passed when I was 16, because she inspired me to always pursue my passions.