When did you first get published?
I wrote at school, of course, but I first started writing professionally when I was expecting my first daughter. I used to read all the time, but it was snowy and I couldn't get to the library so I started writing instead. Because it was winter and cold I wrote The Summerhouse Loon which was set in the middle of summer!
What would you be if you weren't a writer?
I'd be a reader-perhaps a publisher's reader. My French mistress at school used to give careers advice and she always said that it was no good deciding what you were good at; decide what you would want to do every day for years on end and go for that.
Did you enjoy reading when you were younger? Have any of the authors you read influenced your writing?
I read all the time when I was a child and I used to be allowed to go to Fareham Library by myself from the age of 7. I adored the William books by Richmal Crompton with their wonderfully funny gossipy dialogue and quarrels. They are beautifully structured and taught me a lot.
How important do you think it is for us to learn grammar and punctuation now that technology can sort so much out for us?
I think it's absolutely vital! You can't write well if you don't really understand how language works and fits together. It's the craft of the job. Punctuation is really important to help the reader feel the rhythm and to understand what it is you are saying.
Do you aim to write humorously? Where do you get all your ideas from to make your stories so funny? Are you as funny as your characters are?
I'm not as funny in real life, no, but I love the company of funny people and I am an absolute magpie. I'm always watching and listening for funny things and then I jot them down to use later. I write on my cheque book, on the back of old envelopes anywhere!
Some of your books have been made into films. Did you like the film/TV version? Which other book of yours would you like to see made into a film? Do you mind when film companies make changes to your books?
I don't like films of books. I am interested in why people do things, in motivation, and films can only show you what happens. I would always rather people read my books. The film companies use my story and good luck to them, but they don't do what my book does with that story.
Can you give us any tips on ending stories?
Endings are the hard bit, the grind. They are rather unnatural really and most young writers have masses of beginnings, some middles and very few finished stories tucked away! My books often end in a sort of flurry of activity and that can work well.
Read more interviews of leading authors by children.
YoungWriter was a magazine published from 1995 to 2003 by Kate Jones.
We here at Myst Ltd had the pleasure of producing the magazine for Kate.
Sadly, Kate passed away in 2010.