Welcome to the Writers’ Clubhouse. Join us behind the scenes in the book industry as we talk to prominent authors and illustrators about the process of creating great books for kids. Have you ever wanted to be writer? Get inspired here!
Morris Gleitzman is a bestselling and award-winning Australian children’s author. He lives in Sydney and Brisbane and is the 2018/19 Australian Children’s Laureate. His books explore serious and sometimes confronting subjects in humourous and unexpected ways. His titles include Two Weeks With The Queen, Grace, Doubting Thomas, Give Peas A Chance, and Maybe. He has been published in more than 20 countries.
Morris Gleitzman has kindly given permission for Library For All to share some of his readers’ most commonly asked questions and answers in the Writers’ Clubhouse, saying “Congratulations to the whole LFA team for your wonderful work.”
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Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: Not when I was very young. I wrote a lot of stories in my head when I was a kid, but I wanted to be a professional soccer player. Unfortunately the school I went to only played rugby, so most of my soccer experience was in the playground kicking around a tennis ball. I couldn’t find a Premier Division club that used tennis balls. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 17.
Q: What’s it like being a writer?
A: I could write a whole book about it and perhaps I will one day. For now, here are some of main things about being a writer.
1. You get to go to work in your pyjamas. I’m wearing mine as I write this.
2. It feels very nice seeing your name on books in bookshops and libraries. Sometimes just through the window if they won’t let you in because you’re wearing pyjamas.
3. Writing on your own for months can get a bit lonely, but it’s not too bad because the characters keep you company.
4. After doing it for 25 years you get a bad back.
5. You get to travel to different parts of the world and meet readers from different countries.
6. You earn money from doing something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid. Pretty lucky, eh?
Q: Can you give some hints on how to write a story?
A: Read lots of stories. Ask yourself questions while you read. Why are the characters feeling what they’re feeling? What could you change in the story to make them feel different? How would that affect the ending of the story? In your imagination, find a character who will let you write about their feelings. Ask the character questions. Find out what they want most in the world. A pet. A Dad. An illness to go away. A trip to see someone. Love. A friend. Find out what’s stopping them getting it. Write about how they feel about that, and what they do to try and get the thing they want. While you’re doing it, see if you can make yourself laugh and cry.
Q: What advice would you give to developing writers?
A: Welcome to the club. We’re all developing. A good start is to use language you feel comfortable with. Some people think that using big words makes them look more like real writers. Usually it doesn’t. When you’re writing stories, try not to let your characters spend too much time thinking and feeling things without doing things, or doing things without thinking and feeling things. Read lots. Write lots. Read even more.
These responses were first published on Morris Gleitzman’s author page and are reproduced with permission.
Looking for some great examples of kids’ books to inspire your writing? Look for these titles in stores, online or in your local library.