Gillian Cross Interview
Posted on 06 February 2008. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Young Adult author, Gillian Cross, author of over 40 bestselling books including The Demon Headmaster series and Tightrope
Tell us something about your writing background.
I donít do much besides writing. Sometimes I visit schools (primary and secondary) and give talks and workshops. I enjoy this very much and I suppose it helps to keep me in touch with young people, but Iím never sure what effect it has on my own writing. If I do too much of it, I end up feeling like a fraud.
How did you start writing?
I started writing when I was about seven, though I didnít write a whole book until I was about twenty-eight. I began with secret scribblings and I still donít show things to people until theyíre finished. I began because reading and imagining and writing all seemed like parts of the same wonderful activity.
Do you approach young adult/teenage novels in a particular way? Ie. Does research inform the way you write?
All my writing is for young people, and I do a lot of research into the backgrounds of my stories. What I discover certainly influences the book. But I donít do any kind of research into possible readers and their tastes etc. I wouldnít find it helpful to think about things like that.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
I very much admire Peter Dickinsonís books, and Frances Hodgson Burnett is also a favourite of mine Ė particularly The Secret Garden. But this is a bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question. And there are loads of writers I admire who donít influence my writing at all.
Is there a pressure to keep up with youth culture in the YA world?
If there is, it hasnít reached me. I try to avoid obvious blunders, but I always hope that people will be reading my books in fifteen or twenty years time, so it doesnít seem sensible to be locked into any transient fashions.
How did you get your publisher?
I kept writing books and sending them off to publishers. And after about five years, when I was writing my fifth book, two of the other books were accepted in the same week, by different publishers. That was a good week.
What inspires you to write?
Getting an idea out of the blue and feeling that it has a lot of substance to it.
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