When did you first know you were a writer?
I always loved English at school and read lots of books – anything I could get my hands on. Thank goodness for libraries, as I would never have been able to buy all the books I wanted to read. I was a member of the Puffin Club, too, and read all their recommended books, like The Incredible Adventures of Crazy Professor Branestawm and the classic Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. I really liked being part of a club and getting the magazine each month.
Later in my life, I was lucky enough to get a job as a children’s book editor and it was then that I realised I enjoyed writing the back cover blurbs of books more than editing them! So I eventually went freelance to write full-time.
What inspired you to write Rise Up/What is your favourite part of the book?
I was approached by the publisher to write Rise Up and we collaborated on the choice of characters. It’s difficult to choose my favourite part but I do love the story of Pierre Delmalvilain, who was only 14 when he joined the Resistance in France during World War II. He’s the youngest spy I’ve ever written about and he was incredibly brave. Being so young was a great cover too – the Nazis never suspected him of being a spy. You can pick up some useful spying tips in this section too! I really enjoyed combining factual stories with useful tips and advice in this book.
How would you describe your writing style in three words?
Clear, entertaining, enlightening.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
If you want to be a writer, you have to write something! Anything! Even if it’s not very good, you will learn something from it and you will get better. Also, read as much as you can.
What are you reading?
I’ve just started reading Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which is about a girl called Isma, who had to step in and look after her younger siblings when their parents died. Years later, she’s studying in America but she can’t escape the conflicts within her family. Not quite sure where it’s going yet, but it’s proving an intriguing read.
What are you working on now?
At the moment, I’m working on some new storybooks about the Moomintrolls, the classic characters from Finland created by the genius Tove Jansson. These books partner the new animated series of the Moomins. It’s great fun!
A very special thank you to Amanda Li. Rise Up features over 29 tales of amazing young girls and boys who have achieved the unimaginable and is shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards. Illustrated by Amy Blackwell.