An interview with… children’s author Susie Bower

Kate Frost

Today on our Storytale blog we have author Susie Bower whose novel for 8-11 year olds, School for Nobodies has just been published by Pushkin Press.

First of all, Susie, we’d love to know where you get your ideas from?

Anywhere and everywhere – I might read a newspaper article or be fascinated by a fairy tale. What I love most is combining random elements from very different places to create something (hopefully!) new.

How do you know when you’ve got a good idea?

The idea has to withstand the test of: Am I able to sustain this over the months it takes to write a novel?

Where do you write?

At my laptop on the desk in my living-room. I’ve tried writing longhand from time to time but I can type faster!

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Very much a plotter! For me, writing a first draft is the epitome of hell – I hate writing into the unknown, the void of the blank page, etc. So I plot it out as much as I can beforehand. Of course, it changes as I write it, but for my sanity, I need do the plotting anyway!

How long does it take to complete a book?

The first draft may take about six months. I enjoy editing far more than writing, so the next several months will be devoted to that. But of course, agents and publishers always want revisions too… So, around a year.

What hurdles, if any, do you encounter along the way?

So many! Doubt, despair, overwhelm, anxiety – you name it! But the more I write, the more accustomed I get to these hurdles and the more I can reassure myself that they are part of the obstacle course of writing a book.

How do you know when your book’s journey is completed?

When it goes to print! Because then nothing else can be changed.

What books inspired you as a child?

All the Narnia books and the Swallows and Amazons books, Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, Alice in Wonderland, Jane Shaw’s Susan books. 

What’s your current or next project?

I’m currently writing another middle-grade novel, combining The Red Shoes with The Little Mermaid, with touches of Icarus thrown in!

That sounds intriguing! And last but not least, could you tell us 3 random or interesting facts about yourself.

  1. I used to write and direct programmes for children at the BBC and Channel 4.
  2. By the time I hit my teens, I’d lived in 8 houses and attended 7 schools.
  3. For 18 years I had no sense of taste or smell – and recently, it’s returned (bliss!).

Family secrets, circus folk and a school for misfits – School for Nobodies is Susie’s first novel and is described as ‘a hilarious, captivating debut.’

Author photo by Sally Sargent, Natural Portraits.

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