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Collated Answers from WW interviews

Do you address particular themes or issues in your writing?
Alan WilliamsI’m quite moralistic in my writing. The bad guy never wins. And writing Womag stories I always aim for a positive outcome. I enjoy stepping outside conventionality and love to utilise Science or pseudo-science in my stories. By pseudo I mean explanations that sound convincing but often aren’t.
Andrew BlackmanI think there’s a mismatch between how we think of the world and how the world really is. As children, we are taught to share, to play nice, to be kind, to give more than they take, never to hit other children. Then we become adults and enter a world of extreme violence, of vicious competition, a world where business is business and where nice guys finish last. My work explores the disconnects between images and reality, the lies that we tell to explain these disconnects, and the sense of alienation and confusion that result.
Anne BrookeLoneliness. Isolation. Not being part of the in-crowd - I've always been a loner. Often, my major themes are sex, family and death - they pop up in a lot of what I write. Somehow or other.
Ardella JonesI am interested in women, class, race, culture, because of my own background as a working class, over-educated woman, who spent her formative years as the only white kid in her kindergarten group. I find hypocrisies and prejudices, including my own, funny but I suppose I am motivated by anger at injustices and follies. I like to work through humour – I find it’s usually quite stupid people who take themselves and life really seriously.

I have been told my humour is caustic and I am not entirely PC or maybe I’ve gone beyond being PC. Whenever I have touched on race, for example, as a comic or a writer and had any criticism, it has been from an earnest, young white Guardian reader, never a black person. A theorist not an empiricist.
Beanie BabyDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?
I address whatever has touched me - I wrote a poignat poem a few years ago called "For All The Lost Children" because we went through a week where all that seemed to be on the news was a missing or murdered or abused child. I wrote one once entitled "Tears" which was inspired by the sight on TV of a half-starved little girl peering through a fence in a war zone. I am deeply deeply touched by what people do to the world and one another - not just the horrid stuff, but when a child overcomes cancer or something like that, or a dog finds its way home after being missing for years.
Bill SpenceMy Jessica Blair books have themes,
e.g The Red Shawl – how ambition can destroy
A Distant Harbour - how revenge can corrupt
Storm Bay - how the desire for wealth can corrupt
The Restless Spirit – how disputes at the end of the First World War can influence the lives of the next generation in the Second World War.
Cally TaylorLoss seems to crop up fairly regularly - loss of life, loss of a loved one, loss of a dream – it doesn’t sound like the sort of theme that would be particularly successful for a romantic-comedy writer does it
Candi MillerYes. Prejudice; identity; cultural difference; misunderstanding; love & loss.
Caroline RanceI like to incorporate some kind of medical theme, purely because I find the history of medicine interesting, but on a more general level I write about outsiders – people who aren't accepted by others, and the conflict between wanting to be accepted and wanting to remain different. There's also usually something about fertility and motherhood in my writing too.
Cassandra ClareI think one of the great things about writing fantasy is that it allows
you to address issues in an allegorical manner. In City of Bones, my
character discovers that the life she leads is a lie that's been
constructed for her by her mother using spells and magic. While that's
unlikely to happen in real life, it's a way of addressing that feeling
you get when you discover something you never knew about your parents or
family, and suddenly your life feels as if it were built on a false
Catherine CooperI am writing YA so themes that affect teenagers. So far I have done internet stalking, people pretending to be other people on the internet, a retelling of Snow White (that one was a bit of a departure for me) and an affair between a pupil and teacher. That was my favourite one, the one I really wanted to write, and I am gutted that it wasn’t picked up. I guess social media features quite a lot in most of my books, and most of the titles are inspired by 80s song titles.
SkippooWhen it comes to my teenage writing, I guess my main aim is to encourage young people to like themselves more. It’s such a tough time of life. I wouldn’t go back there if you paid me!
Catherine RichardsNot as such. I guess I just like exploring human relationships of varying kinds. That throws up issues along the way but there are none that I particularly set out to deal with.
Cathy GlassYes. Adults, young people, and children who have overcome adversity.
Christina CourtenayGood triumphing over evil (I always have happy endings, hate anything else!). Greed and envy never pays. If you do your best and try to be as kind as possible, things will come right for you.
Claire AllenMy writing addresses life for modern women- the woman who was promised it all, but now that she has it, realises it's not all that special after all. So many of us have so many balls in the air we are constantly waiting for one to drop. I try to deal with those feelings that you don't have to be perfect, you just have to do your best.
Claire MossDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?

When I started NSR, the only real aim I had was to write a book that was for and about young women (and men) who were like me, or who had a life that I could relate to. I love chick-lit and commercial fiction, but it's still a rarity to find a book that is set in the North that isn't either full of self-conscious, phonetically spelled 'Northern' dialect, or labouring the 'grim up North' stereotypes of unemployment and wife-beating. I wanted characters who had the same triumphs and problems as everyone else, but who just happened to be Northeners.
Clare SambrookLove, childhood, family, loss, happiness. Life, I suppose. But the story is paramount.
Courttia NewlandI largely write about black, working class people.
There are other themes or topics but those are the general ones.
Craig BaxterI’m mostly trying to work out the meaning of life, what’s it all for and how we should live (seriously).
Danny RhodesNot always but I did in Asboville and I am doing so in my new project. The challenge is to tell the story first and let the issues provide the backdrop, rather than letting the issues dominate.
Dawn FinchYes. This question took some thought but I think that the honest answer is yes. There is a theme of isolation and being one step outside the rest of the world. My work is essentially about being different and knowing that you always will be different and how to find your place in the world in defiance of the odds.
Deborah Swift
No, but I do like to have a sense of a theme, or a big abstract idea to hang the whole thing on, and this is important to my sense of why the book matters, and to my idea of myself as a writer, even if the reader doesn’t ‘get it’. In the first book it was friendship and loyalty, in the second I am wrestling with the idea of beauty in all its manifestations. But in reality it is the plot that drives the book – themes for me are like a background hum.
Dee WeaverThe way extraordinary situations can disrupt ordinary lives. In The Winter House the main character is accused of rape. In the current WIP the main character accidentally kills his own brother. The one isn’t a rapist and the other isn’t a killer, but their lives are irrevocably dislocated. I like to explore the way people react to such seismic shifts.
Domenica De RosaI don’t think so but reviewers have said that my books are about the family and about identity and a sense of belonging.
Elizabeth BuchanI tend to stalk, or circle, around a theme. For example, my last few novels have been about marriage – a fascinating subject in our age as it is undergoing so much change. My first novels took historical watersheds – revolution and war. Now, I am fascinated by the relationship between past and present and how we see the past.
Elizabeth SpellerI don’t mean to, although my first novels were set in the 1920’s after WWI, but, when looking back at them I found, to my surprise, the same themes come up in all my books, fiction or non-fiction: relationships between fathers and sons, ancient churches, rivers, class tensions, attachment to landscape and the search for somewhere to belong.
Eva SalzmanI’m not a polemical writer. Just because I don’t want to be thumped over the head with messages, doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned about the world.

Many writers like to create a person through which they write about that which they were going to write about regardless, though from an unexpected angle, which automatically alters voice. I’ve got an ongoing series of poems from the muses’ perspective. My muses are often men, or sometimes women dressed or speaking as men. The poems moved through series of themes: sex and love, then gender, then identity and memory. When I ran out of muses, I began to invent new ones: the unspeakable muse, the muse of spleen. I’ve wanted to tackle the muse of boredom, but this one may be self-defeating.

Another series is around the idea of the idea of the twin, the double or doppelganger, which understandably – given its theme – keeps telescoping so that I feel this idea will also be ongoing, and liable to various kinds of transformations, before it’s finished…if it isn’t. This theme seemed like the obvious one for this twin to tackle, which is precisely why it wasn’t, since for me it was hard to turn into metaphor that which was so much part of real life. My man once said to me once: “You’re so lucky to have an evil twin sister!”
Fiona RobynI seem to write about secrets, telling the truth, and staying put rather than running away.
Gary DavisonI was told I write contemporary fiction for the young adult market and I can see that now. I didn’t set out to do this it’s just what interests me right now.
George SzirtesIf one grabs me, or if I am set one. I am often given such things and love the way they knock me slightly sideways. I feel guilty enough just writing without having to consider the failure of conjuring inspiration too. Anything is inspiring when you have to face it.
Gillian CrossNot on purpose. Looking back, I can see various themes that keep surfacing, but I never do it on purpose.
Helen BlackI’m interested in dealing with those that live on the very cusp of society. They’re the sores that most people like to ignore but I like to worry them with my finger nail.
My work is at the very commercial end of things but I don’t see why that should preclude raising serious issues.
I suppose I deal with the ideas of belonging and otherness, what makes a person a part of society or not. Perhaps that stems from being an only child…could someone call a shrink…
Helen CastorI’m interested in power – the workings of which are particularly exposed in the middle ages given that rulers had to rule without the benefit of a standing army, police force, national bureaucracy, motorised transport or telecommunications. But at the same time it always, for me, has to be about individual experience – about the complexity and multiplicity of human responses.
Helen McWilliamsI suppose where my articles for ‘The News Hub’ are concerned, I usually stick to writing about the arts or television as they’re my best subjects. When it comes to writing fiction, anything goes!
Jae WatsonJourney is concerned with current themes and issues in society, such as the sense that there is a kind of nebulous but imminent threat from some external force, real or imagined. In consequence people live in a state of perpetual fear; also the idea of journeying physically and spiritually, of not living a small life because of issues in our childhood, but moving beyond this to something bigger. Then of course there’s love. However, I don’t want to be too issues-focused and I hope that my novel is absorbing, fast-paced and just a cracking good read.
James BurgeI find myself returning to certain themes quite unconsciously but I don’t really articulate them to myself. As soon as I try to list them they seem hopelessly general: love, the chance actions of individuals, the ironies of history — they don’t really mean anything without specific examples
Jane ElmorI'm really interested in identity – My Vintage Summer is all about a damaged girl who has no sense of herself and builds an identity based on an older girl she's infatuated with, through clothes and style. Also the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, who we imagine we are or should be compared with who we really are. I like psychological struggles like status anxiety, creativity, achievement, upbringing - characters who are fragile or outsiders somehow, who don't fit in or can't seem to get what they want.
JemWell, because I write for women’s mags people assume I write love stories but actually I don’t write many of those and if I do then they are usually tied up inside a crime story. I never thought I was a crime writer but one day found myself writing a ‘cosy crime’ story and it was due to that, I think, that I was approached to write a cosy serial for WW. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve written since. I also write a lot of stories about family relationships.
Jenn AshworthMemories, deceptions, family, the lasting effect of almost forgotten incidents in the past, being alone, trying to communicate with someone, trying to make friends. Not as miserable as it all sounds though, I don't think.
Jill DawsonDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?

I guess the last two novels – Wild Boy and this one, Watch Me Disappear, look at the conflict in a character between a rational and intuitive response to an extreme situation. Both feature a character who might be considered by some to be disabled (autistic, epileptic) or even visionary. My task seems to be to make them simply human – no mean feat in a novel. In fact now that I’ve written it down I can see that this is a theme in Fred & Edie and Trick of the Light too (my first novel). Both are about a character who can’t quite sort out the reality of the situation she’s found herself in and doesn’t know whether to trust her gut instinct or a highly rational approach to find the answer.
I’m sure I have lots of other recurrent themes but I don’t want to examine them too closely – that’s surely for readers or others to do.
John RitchieProbably, but I haven’t a clue what they are. My stories are mostly character driven, so my themes would, I suppose, be people’s interactions.

Communication, or more exactly the infinite number of ways people miscommunicate and the consequences of those miscommunications fascinates me. A good example of such a story would be The Girl on the Bus
Jon HaylettMy every book, every short story has a purpose, a moral something, which I hope, will make my reader think, and I am deliberate in addressing issues. For example, Bendera Beach tackled the problem of a small, simple community faced with forces that must inevitably overwhelm it, while my latest novel, Black Mongoose, addresses the problem so many African countries face, of corruption and political repression.
Josa YoungPeople. Passion. Life and death. Fashion and food. Archaeology. Art. Ghosts. How knowledge and behaviour is passed down unconsciously through the generations.
Judith JohnsonProbably.
Julia BellAlways. I think Salman Rushide’s comment that ‘if literature is not an argument with the world then it is nothing’ is true. Stories should illuminate, provoke, enrage/engage, they are an opportunity to open up a different perspective on the world.
Kal BonnerI'm British and therefore like underdogs. Unlike the FA Cup, where they generally get humped, my underdogs usually win - in a round about way. I would say that's a common theme in most of my work.
Kate LongFamily life, and power struggles between generations. I’m also interested in social class, and isolation, and disability.
Kathryn Haig I didn’t realise it at first, but yes – looking back, my books are always written from the point of view of the outsider, the person who has been neglected or deserted or bereaved. Does this say something about me, or is it simply that happy people are not so interesting as unhappy ones? I’m still thinking about that.
Kia AbdullahLife, Love and Assimilation is based on a woman growing up between two cultures. This kind of situation inherently contains a host of issues and themes. Through this setting, the novel discusses religion, politics, terrorism and racism along with more traditional themes such as love, sex, friendship, marriage and identity.
Kit PeelI lived long enough abroad to feel that I put down roots which never cease to clash with the roots I have in the UK. I tend to see things in relation to that past experience, which gives a different take on the everyday.
Laura WatsonI write quite a lot about death and bereavement and also the supernatural. I also write quite a lot from a child’s / teenager’s point of view because I can still remember my childhood very vividly and I feel that sometimes young people’s thoughts and feelings can be under-estimated.
Lee JacksonI’ve tried to address different quirky aspects of Victorian life – from early photography to funeral practices to mesmerism. But my over-riding ‘theme’ is simply London – a sense of place and how life was lived by our ancestors – plus the odd murder, here and there.
Lola JayeI want to write about people, their families and the dysfunction that can sometimes exist within them. I suppose a happy ending is inevitable, but the ride to get there is bumpy, psychological and at times musical!
Lucy McCarraherSo far, family relationships and inheritance – genetic, emotional etc; adoption; parenting; partner relationships; friendship; work-life balance; sexuality; spirituality; the effect the past has on the present.
Luisa PlajaI deal mostly with the self-image and identity issues of teenage girls growing up in a so-called post-feminist world. Also, snogging.
Malcolm BurgessI just write about things that make me laugh for a multiplicity of reasons.
Mark BoothThe absurd, mainly.
Mark Liam PiggottLove; how we choose to live; weakness, loneliness, angst... in a humorous way, obviously.
Matt LynnOne of things I like about thrillers as a genre is that they are very widescreen books. They have action, characters, jokes and drama, but they can also take in politics, economics, war, technology, and international relations. They are very outwards looking books, which weave stories out of current events, but which also, at their best, are timeless.

So the first of the Death Force books is set amidst the war in Afghanistan, and the latest is set in Somalia, amidst the battle against pirates. I like to think the books address a lot of contemporary international issues, but in an entertaining way.

Michael RidpathMorality. I think thrillers and crime stories are morality tales, where the hero applies his or her moral values in a world in which these values are murky.
Michelle HarrisonNot intentionally, unless it’s something that arises from the plot. I suppose the overriding theme in The 13 Treasures is secrecy, and how damaging it can be within a family. But I don’t set out to specifically write about a given theme or issue.
Milly JohnsonMy books might be full of humour but, like life, they touch on much deeper, darker issues than the term ‘chick-lit’ suggests. Just because my books have a happy ending, doesn’t mean to say they are an automatic ‘light’ read. But I don’t do it to sensationalise. I try to cover topics that – alas – too many people relate to like workplace bullying, domestic violence, sexual abuse in families, mental abuse in relationships and, in my new book, add bigotry to the list. I don’t shy away from contention.
Neil ForsythOther People’s Money was obviously a morally ambiguous project. I think my job was to present the story without drawing any inherent conclusions, and let the reader decide on Castro and his crimes. There was some negative press, some coherent and some of the fabricated outrage variety, and that was fine. But generally it was received as an honest portrayal of a dishonest life, which was my aim.
Neil J HartIn Spritz I’m dealing with alcoholism as the main vice of the central character Bob Flint. His devotion to the bottle has ruined his life, driven everyone he cares about away and left him with nothing but his unfulfilled dreams.

In ‘The Madison Chronicles’ I’m dealing with childhood memories, fear, legend and imaginary friends. Most of the first book (three in all) is set in a sort of sub-subconscious called ‘The Narrowing Vent’ where forgotten memories are kept. The main character Sadie Madison is able to move between these vents, into her own forgotten past and the forgotten past of others.
Neil NixonI’ve got a distinctive and grim sense of humour which I put down to the distinctive and grim northern landscape in which I grew up. Other than that I’ve taken on so many different projects the themes and issues have – predictably – been varied.
Nick GriffithsGood lord, no. There is mild satire in In the Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose, but my primary urge is to make people laugh.
Nicky SingerSomeone once told me I always write about loss. I was very indignant – I write about lots of different subjects, don’t I? Then I looked at my work. It’s all about loss. Even the happy bits are about loss. Probably because I lost my father when I was 14 and my mother just before my first child was born, when I was thirty.
Nik PerringNope! I have tried, but find it works better if don’t try to address anything head-on. I can sound very ‘preachy’ when I try too hard, so that’s something I definitely try to avoid. Besides, it’s not really got that much to do with what I think – it’s what the characters think that’s important.
Patrick DillonThe main issue for me is to capture what history felt like to people at the time. People at the time never knew what was going to happen next – it’s that uncertainty you have to get back to. You have to get into different mindsets, of course, but if you’re writing about modern history, the past really isn’t long ago. The other theme I can never get away from is how strange the world we live in now is. Unlike most people for most of time, we’re in uncharted water. Most people from the past would find most of our own attitudes completely unfathomable.

In The Story of Britain, I found powerful themes emerging as the story took shape. There are motifs our history has kept returning to – how we’re governed; how we reconcile different religions without strife; how Britain has been shaped by ideas and people from outside.

Paul ReedDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?

I like to use a bit of psychology when I write. My mind is always on the reader’s response to my words. I like to show various mental states, both negative and positive. Also black humour—you know when it's wrong to laugh but you just have to...?
Peter RobertsonThe themes I will address in fiction in the near future will be culled from personal experience, yet transmuted by the creative process. I guess you could say that some of these themes will be quite visceral in nature. Writing my own fiction will be a completely different undertaking from literary translation—I will have no writer to hide behind. I find that prospect quite unnerving.
Preethi NairDeception, perspective (same story from another person’s view point) and possibility.
Rebecca ConnellI do think there are recurring themes which pop up in my writing. The major themes of THE ART OF LOSING are loss (unsurprisingly), love and infidelity, and identity. I can see myself returning to these themes again and again, because they’re all so complex and rich that I can’t imagine running out of things to say. The concept of identity in particular fascinates me – how we perceive ourselves, the gap between that and how others perceive us, and the idea that some people have a much stronger sense of self than others, who may be more adaptable and see themselves as social chameleons. In the future, I’m also interested in exploring sibling relationships more. I’m an only child so this is out of my comfort zone, but I’m very intrigued by that dynamic, particularly between sisters.
Rebecca StrongHere or There is set around the lives of several characters trying to find the right path in life and deal with the consequences of their decisions. It is an exploration of something we all struggle with sometimes; the biggest challenge we face is not the quest for happiness, but the quest for that which will keep us happy. As humans, we are always searching for validation and greater fulfilment in life – this can be a good thing, or a very destructive thing. I am hoping the novel will appeal to a wide range of people, because the issues it addresses affect us all. Here or There is for anyone who has made a choice in life and wondered if it’s the right one, or anyone who sometimes questions the person they’ve become.
Ron MorgansWhatever premise I start the plot with, it always comes out as ‘good triumphing over evil.’ It’s my positive upbringing. Thanks, mum.
Rosy BarnesThemes: masks and roles, society versus real and personal – status, labels and categories, values, materialism, individuality – gender, sexuality. You know. That sort of thing.

I observe the gaps between how people behave and how they tell you they behave; between who they are and who they want you to think they are. That is always my subject matter.

Rosy ThorntonAny answer to this question is going to sound terribly pretentious when I write books called More Than Love Letters with hearts and butterflies on the cover. But it does also have Big Ben on it, and there is stuff in the book about asylum policy and domestic violence, mental illness, bereavement, child abuse and suicide. Cheerful, eh?

Hearts and Minds has elements of romance, and humour, but it also (if you can believe it) centres round an argument about higher education funding! And my current one, just started, is about the relationship between a ‘Blair babe’ MP and her former Greenham Common peace campaigner mother.

In other words, although what I write is mainly about relationships, and is light and (I hope) even at times funny, I couldn’t ever write something which I didn’t also hope would make people think about ‘issues’ as well. And I suppose I enjoy sending up the silliness and red tape of social institutions.
Sally NichollsWays to Live Forever is about death. I wanted to answer all the questions that children cannot always ask (such as “What does a dead body look like?”) and I wanted to show that while death may be sad, it shouldn’t be frightening. I’m interested in family life and I’m interested in emotions and I’m interested in love and I’m fascinated by damaged people. I always said that I found reality so interesting that I couldn’t understand why people had to add fairies or wizards, but with The Green Man I’m finding that fantasy can be a tool to explore a character’s real-life emotions.

Sally Zigmond
Not consciously, although the more I have written the more I find the same themes and preoccupations popping up time and time again. I do, though, have a preoccupation with the way everyone seems to misunderstand everyone else. It’s a good basis for conflict in any fiction. And for some reason I find myself writing about sisters who are at odds with each other and daughters who clash with their mothers, although I haven’t got a sister and my mother and I have always got on very well so I have no idea where all that comes from.
Sara MaitlandMost of my writing is about women and power and Otherness. African writers are naming a sort of writing they called “spiritual realism” – I think that is what I write, if I am allowed to make that claim.
Sarah SalwayI try not to, but I am told I specialise in dysfunctional relationships. Luckily this is (mostly) only on the page. My most recent writing has been about fierce, larger than life and fabulous women (hopefully this is not just on the page!)
Sarah StovellNot deliberately, but yes. My recurring themes are the usual ones: love, loss, grief. Wretchedness in general.
Shahrukh HusainI’ve noticed two ideas resurface in my writing, one is about storytelling. I make constant reference to story-making and story-telling. It was something several people from the world of folklore and story-telling picked up on. So the details of narrative seem to be a preoccupation. Another one is about the hidden or unrecognized potential in all of us – for example how we may disregard some obvious talent because it’s commonplace or domestic, like cooking, organisation or doodling, when it could be turned into something fulfilling for the owner. I notice also issues of universality and how humans all over the world and from all walks of life have the same basic tendencies and needs. Myths are a great way of bringing the point home with immense force and each of my myth collections and anthologies is on a theme. I’ve also noticed a preoccupation with things ecological. But hopefully, none of it is obviously evangelical.
Shelley WeinerI’m still obsessed with the same issues that inspired my first venture into fiction: survival, bravery, the lies people tell in order to get by, the silences they maintain. I’m fascinated by the way families function (or dysfunction) and by exile and adaptation. Big stuff – a lot of the time overwhelmingly big. The next thing I do, I swear, will be pure entertainment…
ShikaThe immigrant experience and how it soaks up or clashes against its adoptive new culture interests me.

Sion Scott-WilsonDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?

I believe that standing up for the marginalized, the weak, the
dispossessed, is the basis of all societies. That's the whole point.
We agree to co-operate: to pool strength, vitality, intellect, and
resources precisely so we can protect our weaker members. We
trade-off individual freedoms for protection. That is the Social
Contract. Alas, a contract which is breached on a daily basis by
politicians. Without this validation, what is the point of society?
Any society? It's a very big part of what I will continue to write
Sol B RiverI like to look at contemporary issues now. My first set of plays came under the banner of what I called 'The Agenda Album.' The second set comes under 'The Progressive Album'
Stella DuffyI personally believe everything I've ever written has only been about truth and lies. Absolute honesty is hugely attractive to me and I believe that most of our (perfectly human) dilemmas are due to a lack of honesty.
Steve FeaseyNot consciously. I think any themes that are part of my work come about in an organic way. I think if I were to set out to write with a theme in mind, it would just muddy the story. And as Stephen King says, ‘The story is always the boss.”
Steven HagueI like to focus on the dark side of human nature, so themes like revenge, betrayal, prejudice, corruption, justice and greed figure highly in my books – all the good stuff, basically. And where possible, I also like to explore social issues – Justice For All asks the question is vigilantism ever justified, and the follow up, Blood Law, looks at how poverty and despair continues to drive a generation of kids into the arms of L.A.’s murderous gangs.
Sue MoorcroftDefinitely. In Want to Know a Secret? which comes out on 1 November 2010, the theme is about money and family and which is most important. It drives the book. I have discovered that some people will behave badly when money is involved.
Tania HershmanI don't think that's for me to say. I don't consciously address anything. I'd rather other people see whatever they want to see and get whatever they get.
Tara HylandDo you address particular themes or issues in your writing?

I never really thought that I did. But having written two books now, I would say that there’s a theme of what happiness really means – getting that balance of personal and professional / financial success.
Tim LottUncertainty, and how we deal with it.
Tony McGowanTo adapt a joke of Larkin’s, bodily fluids are to me what daffodils were to Wordsworth. That’s about it for me and themes. But I suppose another constant is that I try to smuggle in as much philosophy as I can get away with.
Tracy BuchananI tend to write about relationships, especially families. Infertility plays a role too, in particular the role of a mother in society.
Trilby KentNot consciously, although I suppose a few are starting to emerge. Not fitting in and learning to be ok with that, which often means learning to embrace loneliness. Finding and following a passion, something to give life meaning. The dangers of projecting your own weaknesses and expectations on to other people. On a lighter note, I also love writing about food!
Vanessa CurtisIn the novels for children I like to address serious issues with a liberal dollop of black humour. It’s a thin line between tragedy and farce – I enjoy switching from one to another. It may sound trite but the scriptwriters on Coronation Street get that balance absolutely right.
Vanessa GebbieOh alright, we’ll be serious for a bit.

Loneliness, displacement, non-communication, isolation, love that misses by a mile or two…that’s the ‘serious’ work.
William ColesThe Well-Tempered Clavier has a number of themes - in particular it's an exploration of first love and jealousy. The more I thought about it, the more I realised what a strange, unrepeatable experience it is when we fall in love for the first time. Up until then, we might consider ourselves pretty sorted - and then suddenly you fall heels over head in love, and you're facing a whole glut of emotions that you'd never dreamed of before: The love itself; the lust; the amazing highs and devastating lows; the anger; and also the vicious jealousy.
I think boys suffer more from jealousy more than girls.
We can fall in love many times over, and as we do, we learn to deal with these emotions better. But first time round, you just haven't got a clue what's going on - and sometimes it can overwhelm you.
One other slight theme - which I only began to appreciate when I was halfway through the novel - is just how weird Britain's single-sex schools are. Eton College in particular.
To have over 1,000 boys in this cloistered environment, and not a girl in sight; it's strange.
When you're in the middle of it, you just accept that it's the norm. Only years later do you realise that the whole place is quite extraordinary.

William SuttonI don’t come to things with themes in mind, they just seem to emerge. The best of my radio plays was about friendship, death, the games we play in communicating. The Worms seems to be about growing up, fathers, how the present and the past are uncannily similar, how good people can do bad things, integrity and compromise.
Zoe LambertBuses. Also, I’ve written a lot about disability and caring and the kinds of relationships that you have with someone who ‘cares’ for you or who you ‘care’ for. I’m also interested in asylum seekers and refugees.
Zoe WilliamsWell, my guess is that if you were to look at it as a whole, certain themes would emerge, modern feminism maybe, the growth of a new wave misogyny, a kind of post-anti-globalisation, half-baked left-wingery (in essence, my politics are liberal egalitarian, but I can see that this is a bit of a cop out). I’d hate for anyone to look at is as a whole, though, since the problem with quick turnaround journalism is that you have often written an awful lot around a subject before you’ve reached a considered conclusion about it, so unless you’re going to constantly start “I have refined my line on this since last time, blah”, which is pompous and assumes that people follow all your work wherever it crops up, you do often contradict yourself. Sorry, I mean I do.