So far, my only publication is a junior fiction novel, The Mystery of the Ruby Glasses. However, I’ve recently completed an adult novel which I’m hoping will be published. It’s a Speculative murder mystery (if that makes sense)and involves a disgruntled detective and his teenage nephew who get caught up in a virtual reality computer game searching for a serial killer.
A mysterious gypsy youth from the 1700’s leads them on a quest to solve the ongoing murders. I’m also trying to start a new junior fiction novel but my Uni teaching commitments keep me very busy so it’s been very frustrating not being able to get some words on paper. I love the Fantasy Quest genre and Mystery Adventure. My interest lies more in the junior fiction and Youth Adult area.
2. How long have you been writing for children?
I’ve loved writing children’s stories since I was quite young (yes, even I was young once). This was developed when I started my Arts Degree at USC. I wrote The Mystery of the Ruby Glasses as my Honours thesis and luckily, it was picked up by Lothian Books shortly after. Since then, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a sequel but may begin something totally new.
3. How much time do you spend each week writing and/or revising? And how much time on other writing-related tasks such as promotion, researching markets and so on?
I don’t spend anything like the time I’d wish writing but do spend a lot of time thinking of plots. I also research what is currently popular in Children’s and Y/A fiction and teaching creative writing at Uni means that I need to do this anyway. I enjoy attending writing festivals such as Voices on the Coast and will probably be at the Ipswich Writer’s Festival this year. Checking what is on the shelves in bookshops helps to give a broad idea of what children and youth are reading and checking publisher’s websites is also time well spent. My own website is another way of staying in touch with my readers though I must admit, I don’t update it as often as I’d like.
4. How much time do you spend reading children’s books? And what are you reading right now?
I spend as much time as I can reading both children’s and Y/A books. I also love reading non-fiction mysteries which give me ideas for plots. I lecture in Children’s and Y/A fiction at Uni, so I’ve done a lot of reading of both classic and contemporary children’s stories. I also lecture on the Children’s illustrated book which I find incredibly interesting. At the moment I’m reading a Y/A novel, Taronga by Victor Kelleher.
5. What advice would you give other would-be children’s writers, or share with other professional children’s writers?
Try to find something really unique to write about. Make it breathtakingly interesting and start the action right up front. Don’t be too preachy and follow the rule, ‘show don’t tell’. Let the reader do some of the work and don’t fill in all the dots. I think it’s important that writers tackle issues that are not always pleasant to digest but may be what some children experience every day of their lives. Also, remember that we have all been children so think about what it was like for you. Draw on life experience; it’s far more credible to your plot. A course in creative writing can help to hone your skills but in the end, it’s your imagination and attention to detail that will carry you through.
6. What is your favourite online resource for children’s writers? Why?
To be honest, I don’t use any one site but surf everywhere. I go to Publishers’ sites and other authors’ sites and anywhere that looks interesting. I read stories on-line and save ‘handy hints’ from those who’ve had interesting experiences. Be careful not to be influenced by sites that preach rigid structure in fiction writing; after all, it’s writing about what you love or interests you that makes a good story for others to read.
7. Do you have a website or blog? What else do you do to promote your published works and/or your writing skills?
I do have a website that is still in its infancy: http://www.lindsaycripps.com/ I promise to add things often but I must admit, I can be slack. I’ve put some info on it about The Mystery of the Ruby Glasses and I love getting comments or questions on the site. I reply to all those I receive. I’m using The Mystery of the Ruby Glasses as a novel in a writing course at USC this year so I hope it will be interesting for students to get a first-hand account of how it came to be written and some of the pitfalls of publishing.
Finally, the best of luck with your creations. I hope to be reading them soon.
If YOU are a children’s writer, of any level of experience, and would like to be interviewed here, feel free to drop me a line at sally @ sallymurphy.net (remove the spaces) and I will send you the questions.