1) Where did you get the idea to make a video game come to life?
My eldest son was about ten years old at the time and being teased about his lack of footballing skills. He was (and still is) a keen computer game player, so I thought I’d try to incorporate a computer game into a story that might help him to deal with the bullies. In The Dragon Box, the boys bullying James, the main character, come into the game as ugly little goblins and he uses his problem-solving skills to overcome them. Unfortunately, it took me so long to write the book that my son was too old to want to read it by the time I finished! (He’s a University student now.)
2) What kind of books did you enjoy reading growing up?
I loved all kinds of books. I read everything I could lay my hands on. I especially loved the ones that took me out of my own world, the ones with a touch of magic. One favourite I had when I was six or seven was ‘The Sam Pig Story Book’ by Alison Uttely. The pigs got up to all the same sort of capers that human children do, but in a different context. I also loved books by Elizabeth Goudge and I had a favourite book of English Fairy Tales with scary pictures that I loved to frighten myself with. As I grew older, I moved into the classics. One thing that probably stopped me reading some really good books though, was that I steered clear of anything my mother said I ‘should’ read. I was a bit of a rebel like that.
3) What is it like being an Indie writer?
That depends on how many books I’m selling. If I’m selling lots of books, good reviews are coming in and I’m generally feeling that I’m making some headway, then I love it. On days when nothing is selling, reviews are not so good and I’m tired of trying to market, then it’s just hard work and to be truthful, I wonder why I bother. In general, though, I don’t regret having gone the self-publishing route. I like the control I have over everything, from cover to price. I love the fact that people are reading my stories, which would otherwise be sitting on my hard-drive or on the desk of an agent/publisher for months and I love meeting my readers on the internet, something I might not get to do if I were published traditionally.
4) Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
Er…could you wait a moment while I hunt out a dictionary? R…rou…routine… No, I don’t have one of those. With 3 children and a part-time job, I’m happy to just grab the time where I can. Fortunately, I get school holidays, so that gives me some time to really get down to it every few months, but otherwise it’s just writing when I can. Most of it is in the evenings or on my days off.
4) Do you have any other things you enjoy doing besides writing?
Lots of things! I love reading, of course, and I love drawing and designing – I’m very good at using them to procrastinate when I don’t feel like writing. I also love music. I bought myself a Celtic harp a couple of years ago and spend hours teaching myself to play that. Long walks around the farm where I live are pretty good, too, when the weather’s right, often with my camera so that I can take photos– something else I love doing.
5) What advice would you give to children that want to be a writer?
Read! Read everything. Decide for yourself what makes a good story and learn to write that way. Embrace all those boring English lessons your teachers make you do, because one day all that stuff will come naturally to you and save you lots of time and effort when you’re writing. Learn to study people, their strengths and weaknesses, funny little habits and annoying traits. One day, they’ll become your characters.
6) What upcoming projects or future events do you have coming up?
I’m working on the last chapters of the sequel to my adult’s book, Treespeaker, at the moment, hoping to have it out in the next few months. Then there’s another children’s book I’d like to write and a sequel to my Young Adult fantasy, Mark of the Dragon Queen. That should keep me busy for a while!
Link to Katie W. Stewart’s website.