I was sent a list of questions the other day. They came from a publicist who wanted information in advance of my next picture book.
Most of them were easy enough:
Did you ever imagine you’d reach a hundred books? (it’s going to be my 100th book - whoopydoo!)
What inspired you to write it?
What sort of relationship did you have with your grandparents? (it’s about grandparents, sort of)`
How many bobble hats do you have? (read the book and you’ll understand)
But one question stopped me in my tracks:
What keeps you motivated in what is predominantly a solitary occupation?
Hmmm. Interesting. Here’s what I wrote back (with additional thoughts, for your eyes only, added here, in italics):
I love being a writer. It’s far-and-away my favourite occupation. (beats packing Polo Mints on the night shift, anyway. And ‘working’ in the British Rail laundry, reading Emile Zola behind an enormous pile of sheets. Oh, and ‘teaching’ a bunch of unruly sixteen year old girls in inner-city Leeds, in the year they’d just raised the school leaving age. They did NOT want to be there!)
I love living in a world of imagination.
I love having total freedom as to when and what to write.
Writing’s hard, but I love the buzz you get when you know you’ve cracked it. (even if, the next day, you realise you maybe haven’t)
I love that young children are so open to joy, to excitement, to wonder. I love living in the mind of the four, five, six-year-old Malachy, of seeing the world through his eyes and trying to capture some of that joy, wonder, excitement (and silliness) on the page.
I love making books, and working with illustrators and good editors. (not that there are any bad editors, of course, but we all have our moments!)
I love the first time I get my hands on the finished product. (like last week – Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires, illustrated by my very own daughter, Hannah. Whoopy-doopy-doo!)
I love reading my books to children (especially little Daniel, above), and watching them read the books themselves.
Books have brought so much joy to my life – it’s a privilege and a continuing wonder to be a part of bringing some of that joy to the next generation.
So that’s what it's all about, to me. That's what keeps me motivated. Anything you’d add, anyone?
My latest picture book is called Peek-a-Book, illustrated by Rowan Martin (Parragon, August)
My storybook, Pete and the Five-a-side Vampires, illustrated by my daughter, Hannah Doyle - it's her very first book - is published by Firefly Press (September)
And my next picture book, Tadcu's Bobble Hat, my 100th book, illustrated by Dorry Spikes, is published by Gomer Press in October.