Thank you Meagan for your answers :-)

Do you now or have you ever considered using a pen name?
At the moment I have 3 pen names (I don t think I want anymore as I am now starting to get them confused!)

What inspired you to become a writer?
I was an avid reader as a child and loved escaping into the land of make believe and fantasy. Writing allows me to do that on a daily basis without feeling guilty about it.

What are the best and worst bits of being an author?
Writing and being creative allow me to escape into my head for hours at a time. It s brilliant! It gives me a wonderful sense of freedom and escapism but when the words don t flow easily it can get stressful. The financial side of things can also be worrying at times.

Who are your favourite authors and how did they inspire you to write?
I grew up reading Dr Seuss, Richard Scarry, Spike Milligan, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak and Mordecai Richler to name a few. The stories they told have never left me even after all these years. For me telling stories and creating characters that have such a profound effect on people is what it s all about.

Could you talk us through a typical writing day for you do you have any rituals to help you to get into the right frame of mind or anything like that?
Once I get my husband off to work I tend to our cat Nutmeg who enjoys nose rubs, cuddles and drinking water out of glasses that must be held in just the right way. By 8am she is settled on the sofa, my tea is steeping and I m ready to go.

Do you plan your story or do you go with the flow and let the story write itself? If you plan it, could you talk us through how you do it please?
At the moment I am still working this out. I have one story that just came to me and I have been going with the flow. I have a second one I am working on which I have meticulously planned out. To be honest the go with the flow approach seems to be working better for me.

If you could have lunch with one person past or present, who would it be and why?
It would be a toss up between Spike Milligan and Shel Silverstein. One of the first books I remember being given was Silly Verse for Kids by Spike Milligan (I still have it and I still read it). Both of these authors have inspired me to write and even now their words make me laugh and feel good. For me there is a sense they never really grew up and I guess that appeals to me. I don t want to grow up either!

If you could bring one fictional character to life for 1 hour, what would you do with them during that hour and why?
It would depend on the mood I am in. Right now I would love to bring Ferdinand the Bull to life so we could just hang out in a sunny field watching butterflies and smelling flowers. Sounds like the perfect day.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This is a tough one for me as I still have doubts about whether I can call myself a writer or not. It s silly really because I write everyday. I recently got my first ever commission so this will be the first time I have earned anything from my writing. On some level it is helping me acknowledge myself as a writer but I am struggling to understand why I need this validation in the first place. O.K never mind I AM A WRITER! Now I am off to shout that from the rooftops!

What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to write a book for years now but lacked the confidence to make a start. The main character in my picture book came to me while I was meditating and basically gave me a kick in the pants. The whole story unfolded for me during the meditation and I thought to myself - what a wonderful gift! I better make the most of this and write that book. So here I am working on it and I couldn t be happier.

Which books have most influenced your life?
Silly Verse For Kids by Spike Milligan
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Jacob Two-Two and The Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler
Corduroy by Dan Freeman
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Tell us about the book you are reading now and why you are enjoying it?
I am reading How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I have never read any of her books and I now have a stack that I am digging into. I have only just started it but I love her writing style it is very engaging.

Other than writing, how do you spend your day?
Gardening, Cooking and Cuddling Nutmeg. I also work as a Holistic Therapist so I do break away from the computer every so often to see clients. This is great because writing keeps me in my head while gardening, cooking being with nutmeg and seeing my clients gives me a chance to come back to Earth and ground myself.

Where do you get your ideas from?
By biggest inspiration is the natural world. When I go out for a walk or potter around the garden a million different ideas pop into my head.

If you couldn t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Nature Photography is another passion of mine so I would devote more time to that. It s essential for me to have some sort of creative outlet but I also need to balance the escapism it brings with something more grounding. At the moment my work as a Reflexologist and Aromatherapist, is the perfect complement to my writing work.

Which was your favourite chapter to write and why?
At the moment I am working on picture books so I m not dealing with chapters yet. There is something magical in the ending. When everything comes together in a happy and pleasing way. It s a great feeling.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
Write and when you ve finished writing - write some more! Keep at it and never give up.

How do you cope with and overcome writer s block?
Getting out in nature always helps me. Whether it s my garden, a local park or just a walk down the road. Listening to birdsong, feeling a warm breeze or splashing in puddles - it all helps stir up the creative juices.
There is also nothing quite like a quick 10 15 minute shower. If I need to take a break and clear my head it usually does the trick. We no longer have a bathtub but when we did I would do a lot of my writing while having a soak. There is something about water that helps me write. I feel like it helps get words and ideas unstuck everything flows much more easily.

What was the hardest thing to cut from your manuscript?
Everything. This is one of my biggest challenges. I have a tendency to get attached to everything in my story.

What do you find is the best time to write?
Early mornings are best for me. My mind is clear and I have the luxury of the whole day before me. After about 4pm I need to put pens and paper away.

How do you deal with rejection letters?
About 2 years ago I worked with an amazing author and book coach. She told me that every rejection letter she received was a reminder that she was in the game a working writer. I love that approach. It is empowering and positive.

Thank you to Julie Fulton for answering these questions!

Maybe we could start with a brief introduction to you?
I m a music teacher living in Worcestershire, where I also practice complementary therapies and love to garden - we have a big allotment. I sing lots, dance, read and, of course, write!

Do you now or have you ever considered using a pen name?
I use my maiden name as an author. If I wrote for another genre or age range of children, I might consider a pen name - not really thought about it. Now you ve made me think!

What inspired you to become a writer?
I love reading to children and watching their faces as they hear a story unfold. We spent a lot of time on the reading mat when I was a class teacher! A book is a passport to other worlds - I d love to be able to create some of those worlds for young listeners.

What are the best and worst bits of being an author?
The best bit is getting out into schools and events to read to children and meeting your audience. The worst? I could say the fact that writing is a lonely business, but your life becomes peopled by your characters. Perhaps the promotion of a book - it is great fun, but does take up time - when I could be writing!

Who are your favourite authors and how did they inspire you to write?
I was brought up on Dr Seuss, Spike Milligan, Edward Lear and the like. I still love to read them, hence the craziness of my first picture book Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy I suppose. They made me want to make reading fun.

Could you talk us through a typical writing day for you do you have any rituals to help you to get into the right frame of mind or anything like that?
I don t have a typical day, fortunately. I like variety. I write whenever I have the time. I do carry a notebook and pen around for when inspiration may strike! Teaching and other work tends to take up a lot of each day, but no two are ever the same. When I get an idea I sit down at the first opportunity and give it a go - no rituals I m afraid.

Do you plan your story or do you go with the flow and let the story write itself? If you plan it, could you talk us through how you do it please?
With picture books I go with the flow once I ve got a character or story idea. I ve just finished an 8+ novel which took more planning. I worked out the outline to the story - beginning, middle, end - sorted chapters and worked on characters, then went for it. It s taken far more editing than I m used to though!

If you could have lunch with one person past or present, who would it be and why?
This would have to be my mother s father. I never met this Grandad as he died before I was born. I m told I take after him. He loved to read, was a self taught musician and adored animals. The chance to talk with him, even just for an hour, would be very precious indeed.

If you could bring one fictional character to life for 1 hour, what would you do with them during that hour and why?
I ve had great trouble with this question. There are so many wonderful characters out there. After a lot of thought, I think I would choose Falco, the roman detective from the novels of Lindsay Davis. I m a history fiend, especially for the Roman era, and would spend the hour finding out all the every day things and gossip that went on back then - those little things archaeology and historic writings just don t tell you! Plus Falco has a great sense of humour!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was afraid to say I m a writer or even think it until I had my picture book published and on the shelves in book stores, I m ashamed to say. It still sounds funny now.

What inspired you to write your first book?
The crazy stories and poetry I read as a child have obviously had an influence on what I write today. I m not sure whether any books have had an actual effect on my life. Poetry can make you stop and think - maybe I could say Wilfred Owen.

Tell us about the book you are reading now and why you are enjoying it?
I m afraid I m not reading anything at the moment - too busy editing. I did read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society not long ago. It s a wonderful read and I d thoroughly recommend it - historical, humorous, sad and uplifting!

Other than writing, how do you spend your day?
As I said before, no two days are the same. I teach, sometimes have reflexology or Reiki clients, pretend to do the housework, sing in a choir, go to dance classes, attend writing classes, garden, see friends, go walking - and sometimes just sit in front of the TV and veg out!

Where do you get your ideas from? I might catch a snippet of conversation that sparks off an idea, or an object in a museum can be a good starting place. My 8+ novel came about from hearing the story of what some women did during the Second World War. Picture book ideas tend to pop up out of nowhere though!

If you couldn t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I don t think I d do anything other than teach.

Which was your favourite chapter to write and why?
I think it has to be the final chapter of my 8+ story. It s full of action and was exciting to write.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
I m only a fairly new writer, but my advice would be to stick at what you want to do, join a scribblers group for support and feedback and always write for enjoyment.

How do you cope with and overcome writer s block?
If I can t move on with something, or no new ideas are showing themselves, then I stop stressing, leave it and do something else. Free writing is a good idea too.

What was the hardest thing to cut from your manuscript?
My 8+ story is set in the past. I found it hard not to include, or indeed to have to trim down, historical references and information. I knew they held up the story and were purely my little darlings , but boy were they hard to persuade to leave!

What do you find is the best time to write?
If I get the chance to choose, I would say afternoons for me. When I m teaching that s not always possible, so I grab what time I can.

How do you deal with rejection letters?
I ve not sent much out to publishers or agents, so have only had a couple of these. I just reminded myself they re all part of a writer s life, took on board any suggestions given, and added them to my new little collection!

This interview is from Clare:

Maybe we could start with a brief introduction to you?
I am a wife, mother and teacher from Devon and my first picture book, Aerodynamics of Biscuits, is being published by Maverick Books on 28th September 2015. I won the Margaret Carey Scholarship for Picture Book Authors in 2013 and Silver Medal in the Greenhouse Funny Prize 2014. I hadn t written a thing before January 2013 and I owe a huge amount of what I have achieved to The Society of Children s Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) and its volonteers and members. I am represented by the lovely Alice Williams from David Higham and Associates.

Do you now or have you ever considered using a pen name?
Not exactly, but I have given myself an author alter ego! It feels strange and a bit embarrassing to be promoting myself and my writing. It s not something I feel hugely comfortable doing. So by donning a disguise, aka my author name, I feel a little protected, like I m bigging up someone else! Also, there is already a Clare Welsh who is the author of a number of educational books, so it was recommend I go by a slightly different name!

What inspired you to become a writer?
I have heard people say write the book you want to read . In my case, it was write the book you want your children to read. That s both my own children and the children I teach at school. I love reading and sharing stories that are full to the brim with excitement and adventure, that ignite imaginations and leave you reliving the plot and dreaming of the characters long after the last page has turned. The reason I turned to writing also has a lot to with my best friend, Leanne. Every year on 31st December I write a To Do list for the year, which is something Leanne and I started doing when we were in our twenties. The lists usually have five or six new things to try activities that challenge us and push us to make the most of every day, week, month, year. For example, go canoeing, try skiing or write a book!

What are the best and worst bits of being an author?
That s a difficult question! Am I allowed to pick two best bits?? The first would be running workshops for children. There s no better company and nothing more rewarding. My second best bit, would be the actual writing! I don t plan per se. I sometimes start with the title, or an idea or an opening line, and so I feel like I m as much on the journey as the reader. I don t know what s going to happen from one page to the next! If you can t tell yet, I love adventure! I haven t come across any bad bits yet

Who are your favourite authors and how did they inspire you to write?
I love Judith Kerr and especially The Tiger that came to tea . In particular, I love that it s a fantasy story but one that any child can imagine themselves in the heart of. It s a great text to use in schools and one we ve had lots of fun with tea parties, tiger cafes, surprise visitors and the like! Another classic my children and I love is Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury s We re going on a Bear Hunt . It s Rosen s rollicking, rhythmic, onomatopoeic word choice that makes this so much fun to read aloud. And again, it s the adventure of a lifetime. I like the endpapers- they make you question everything you ve just read. We were lucky enough to see the stage show! Amazing!
A more modern favourite would have to be Oi Frog! By Kes Gray and Jim Field. Simply hilarious and again, I love the rhythm! It just rolls off the tongue like a song. The ending makes me chuckle every time, even on the 80th read!

Could you talk us through a typical writing day for you do you have any rituals to help you to get into the right frame of mind or anything like that?
A typical day usually involves either an early or a very early start; a day full of teaching, then tea and cuddles and then several hours in the eve with paperwork and planning more company. My treat, which motivates me on my most tired days, is writing when the work is done and the kids are in bed. Sometimes it s only half an hour and other times I work until gone midnight, but it s my reward for working hard. In my experience, lots of working mums are the same. I often get emails, text, messages from my Mummy friends, like a secret hive of busy bees catching up on life. But I am very fortunate to teach three days a week so on Mondays and Tuesdays I do schools runs, cook, clean, tick off the jobs and spend as much time with my little girl as I can before she starts school in September sometimes a walk, a trip to the library, a swim or cuddles in bed with a DVD. Whichever kind of day, stories are always in my subconscious. I have a list of, ideas, titles and snippets of conversation on my iPhone that I work through when I want to start a new project.

Do you plan your story or do you go with the flow and let the story write itself? If you plan it, could you talk us through how you do it please?
I like to start with a title. Aerodynamics of Biscuits started in this way and I honestly didn t know what was going to happen from one line to the next. It helped keep the writing spontaneous and the plot unique. My best stories were written this way but if they make the cut, the usually involve A LOT of editing! Sometimes I decide to write about something specific and in this instance, I do try to define the kernel of the story before I start. But I don t usually finish these stories or work on them after the first draft. They bring out a boring and predictable writing style. Obviously, everyone is different and people should always do what works for them.

If you could have lunch with one person past or present, who would it be and why?
Definitely my family and friends and I couldn t possibly single out just one so please don t ask me to! I love them so much and I owe them all so much in return for their support! It would have to be a pretty long table, a banquet in fact. With lots of love, laughter and a quiz! It s not a party in my book without a quiz!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Ummm, not yet I ll let you know when!

What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted my children to love books. I believe books are crucial for children s emotional development and for developing creativity and imagination. A love of books also helps to form a strong bond between families and is big factor in learning to read.

If you couldn t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
A teacher or an illustrator.

Which was your favourite chapter to write and why?
At the moment I write picture books, so there are no chapters but spreads, usually 12 plus endpapers. My favourite pages to write are the opening spreads and I least like endings! I find endings the hardest.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
1. Join SCBWI. 2. Join a critique group. 3. Enter as many competitions, apply for as many scholarships and grab as many opportunities as you can. 4. Be open to ideas and feedback. 5. Nearly all first drafts are awful!

How do you cope with and overcome writer s block?
I either persist and battle my way through it or break routine and do something different ex: I write outside not at a desk, or in a notebook not on a laptop. But I also try not to put too much pressure on myself. It s ok to take a break and if I have a spell where I write nothing for a couple of months, nothing terrible happens. In fact, I usually come back with a vengeance and something I love!

What was the hardest thing to cut from your manuscript?
I m quite open to advice and ideas from others. I enjoy working in a team and realise that two, three or six heads are better than one. The hardest thing to do is be selective about the advice you receive. I often need to sleep on advice and take what works, otherwise I can change too many things and lose the thread of the story and end of with a big mess!

What do you find is the best time to write?
Late at night when it is most peaceful! .or on a sun lounger in an all-inclusive holiday in the sun!

How do you deal with rejection letters?
It s definitely not fun and preparing for the worst case scenario helps me avoid disappointment. But I strongly believe that things happen for a reason and believing in this, and keeping hope, has treated me well so far.
Thank you so much Amanda for your thought provoking questions. This has been my first interview as a writer (oooo, maybe NOW its official??) and it s been a pleasure.

Thank you Clare!