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Interview with Robert Swindells

Robert Swindells was born in Bradford and lives on the Yorkshire Moors. His books are often set in Yorkshire, but he writes about present day issues that affect us all. Robert was interviewed by children from Cottenham Village College in Cambridgeshire.

What made you start writing books? Has writing been your only job? Is it now? Do you think you can be a good author if you write part-time? If you weren’t an author what other career would you have pursued?

I wrote a novel for young people as my thesis at teacher training college. This was published in 1973 as When Darkness Comes. Before training to teach I had many jobs: copyholder, airman, shopworker, engineer, bookbinder. I’ve been a full-time writer since 1980, but many successful authors work part-time. If I were not a writer I would still be a teacher.

Did you read a lot of books when you were younger? What sort of books? and what sort do you read now? Do you also read poetry?

I read countless books when I was young. Now I average 3 per month. I’ll read anything except westerns, romances and Tolkein-type fantasy with talking animals etc. I read poetry now and then. I sometimes try to write it, but it’s not good.

Are your stories and characters based purely on imagination or are they based on people and experiences you have known? Do you ever base your books on dreams?

I never base my work on dreams. Some of my characters and situations are straight out of my imagination; others are based on real people and events.

Why do you think you write the sort of books you do? Do you think you have become more aware of political and social issues as you have got older? Do you try to be fair or do you go primarily for the good story even if it presents a one-sided view of a situation?

I am constantly aware of the presence of injustice in the world, and try to point up various manifestations of injustice, structural violence and so forth which exist in our society, and their effects on victims. Sometimes I suggest possible solutions. I make no attempt to be even-handed in this: I write what I believe.

Do you think our society is already heading towards a society like the one portrayed in ‘Daz 4 Zoe’? Is this what you think the future could really be like?

Without a doubt. Only tomorrow’s adults can stop it. This means you.

Are there any more books to come soon? Do you have lots of ideas bubbling away or do you have a gap after each book when you don’t know what you’ll be working on next?

Lots of books to come, providing I don’t drop dead or lose my marbles. (There are those who say I should do the former, and that I’ve done the latter already!)

What do you think is different between writing for children and writing for grownups?

Writing for children is more fun, because children have more fun. Adults get screwed up by money and power and stuff. I’m never going to be an adult.

Thank-you very much Robert Swindells!

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.