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Smithfield Public School 3. Bookweeking - Ask the Author

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 , Posted by Sandy Fussell at 11:30 PM

It's a really busy week for me, because it's Book Week. In three days I have spoken to almost 750 kids at 9 schools and visited 5 libraries. It is exciting, fun and exhausting. I have four more Book Weeking days to go. Did you have an author or illustrator visit for Book Week? Has anyone read any of the Book Week shortlisted books? One of my favourite ones was Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy and it was selected as Younger Readers Honour Book.

I am working on a special blog post for you about book covers - making a bit of a quiz so you can try to guess what is inside the cover. But it's taking me longer than I thought to find all the tricky covers, especially when I am visiting so many schools. So we'll do that one next week.

I thought this week maybe you would like to ask me a few "Ask the Author" questions. I'll start off by telling you the question I have been asked the most in the last three days. Probably once at every school I visitted. So that must mean it is something lots of people want to know.

Where do you get your ideas from?

And the answer is...drum roll... everywhere! Ideas are like flies, they are buzzing around all over the place. The hard part, just like with flies, is knowing how to catch them. You catch them with questions! Who, what, where, when and why. Whenever you see, hear, smell, touch or taste something interesting, ask questions and you will find a story idea!

On the weekend I went to the breadshop to buy a sausage roll for lunch and on the way out I saw someone had dropped a pie in the street. Splat. It was squashed flat! I started to think about what might have happened. Who dropped it? Why did it fall? I wondered whether some really hungry person had to go all day without anything to eat. Or maybe two kids were riding their bike down the pavement, pushing and mucking around until the pie fell out of the bike basket. Or... how did the pie feel? Maybe it was saying "I wish somene would tread on me and then I could travel all over the world on the bottom of a shoe." Sometimes I tell this story as an example - I do a great imitation pie voice.

I got the idea for Samurai Kids when I read that to be a samurai, you had to be born into a samurai family. It's not like deciding to be a teacher or a doctor. You can't decide to be a samurai, not even if you are really good at sword fighting. So I started to think about kids who didn't want to fight but had to - because that was the job they were born to do. And then I thought: what if they weren't any good at it? What if they weren't any good at it because they only had one leg? That's when a sentence popped into my head: "My name is Niya Moto and I am the only one-legged samurai kid in Japan."

Once I had that sentence I started to ask even more questions. What was Niya like? Who were his friends? What did samurai kids learn? Who would want to teach Niya? What worried Niya about training to become a samurai warrior? Suddenly I had lots of story ideas. Enough for a whole book!

So who has a different question they would like to ask me?

Currently have 22 comments:

  1. Sally Murphy says:

    Thanks for showing off my cover, Sandy. And a great answer to the question about where ideas come from.

    Enjoy the rest of your Bookweek!

  1. Hey, how's that Smithfield! We've got a Book Week Honour Book author dropping by to say hello. If you have a question you would like to ask Sally, I bet she would like to participate in our "Ask the Author" blog conversation too.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Who or what inspired you to begin writing books?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What genre of books do you enjoy the most?

  1. Anonymous says:

    How long does it take to have a book published?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What do you like about books? I enjoy the ending of a book.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Of all your books, which one do you have a soft spot for?

  1. Anonymous says:

    James O,
    Who checks your stories to see if they are ok to be published?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you have fun writing books?

  1. Anonymous says:

    How long did it take to write Jaguar Warrior? We are reading it at the moment, I am up to chapter 3.

  1. Anonymous says:

    James E,
    When is the best time to get ideas to write?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you think any of your books will ever become a film or cartoon?

  1. Hi SONALI,

    When my son was in Year 4 he stopped reading. He said all books were boring. I asked him to show me what wasn't boring by writing a story for me. It was my job to write down what he said but I kept trying to make suggestions. In the end he folded his arms, glared and said:'Mum, this is my story. If you want to write one, go write your own!'

    So I did and have been writing ever since then.

  1. Hi AMANDA,

    I read all sorts of books but my favourite genre is fantasy.Especially books with a dragon in them. THE DRAGONKEEPER SERIES by Australian author Carole Wilkinson is one of my Top Ten books.

    What is your favourite genre?

  1. Hi ROSTOM,

    That's a tricky question. It varies from book to book and picture books usually take the longest - because of the illustration component.

    Samurai Kids White Crane took two years! But some of my other books only took 6 months.

    Authors need to be very patient people!

  1. Hi KELSIE,

    I'm going to answer your question twice - once with each of my hats on.

    When I am Sandy the author I like the beginning best. It is my favourite part to write and I rewrite it over and over again until I have it just right.

    When I am Sandy the reader I am like you and I like the end best. But I don't like ends that leave me hanging so that I have to rush out and read the next book straight away. I don't think that's fair. What if I can't get the next book for a while?

  1. Hi NICOLE,

    The book I have the softest spot of all for is not published yet. I have been working on it for a long time. I call it 'the book of my heart' because I love the story so much. It is a historical animal story.

  1. Hi JAMES,

    I have a wonderful editor called Sue who checks my books. I am lucky she is very good at it. When I was writing POLAR BOY, which is set in the Arctic Circle up above the tree line where there is no metal, I wrote that Iluak zipped up his trousers! Luckily Sue spotted that mistake - it was on my very first page! No metal above the tree line = no zips!

  1. Hi JERRY,

    I have heaps of fun writing books. I don't think I could do it otherwise. I write very late at night after the day at work and after my family have gone to bed.

    My writing time is from 11pm to 1am.

  1. Hi DAVID,

    I wrote JAGUAR WARRIOR in two goes. I was half way through it when everyone wanted more Samurai Kids books. So I stopped to write SHAOLIN TIGER AND MONKEY FIST.

    Then I went back to finishing JAGUAR WARRIOR. I think it took me about 6 months but it was spread over a year and a half.

  1. Hi JAMES E,

    That's an excellent question and one I think every author would answer differently.

    I don't get to choose a best time as the only free time I have is after work and after my family has gone to bed. I write from 11pm - 1 am every night. It is 11.34pm now!

    I do know where is the best place for ideas - when I am driving in the car all by myself or when I am in the shower! Lots of time to think then!

  1. Hi DENNIS,

    I really hope one day one of my books is made into a film or a cartoon but I think I will need a lot more readers first.

    I will also need to be very lucky.

    But I am feeling hopeful and lucky! *smile*