MY INTERVIEW WITH CAROL HEDGES
My guest today is a British author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her novel Jigsaw, about a teenager's suicide, was shortlisted for the Angus Book Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2001. Her most recent work is the excellent Spy Girl series which now comprises four great books.
Carol, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Usually it’s you doing the interviewing in Hedges Towers, so how does it feel to be on the other side of the blog?
It's great, Richard - and the lemonade is very nice. I see you got PINK lemonade! (Gets up) Oh, there seems to be an empty pizza box down the side of the sofa... I'll just put it on the floor for now. (Sits down).
Thanks. That was my tea! How did you get into writing and what was your first book about (published, or not!)?
I think I've probably been 'telling stories' as long as I've been reading! The two go together, don't they? I recall I used to make up Famous Five stories - with me, George and Timmy the Dog as co-heroes. My first published novel was called “Ring of Silver, Lord of Time”, and was a historical whodunnit based around the building of St Albans Abbey. It was published in 1992. I've since had 12 novels published - and a lot that haven't been.
You’re represented by the David Higham agency. Were they your first agent and how long did it take to get representation?
I started without an agent because, like many new writers, I was faced with the age-old 'you need to have a publishing history for an agent to consider you' problem. I was lucky: OUP took me on without an agent and published 3 novels. However, it soon became apparent that other agented writers had much better deals - so I decided to get an agent. A very kind children's writer called Tim Bowler made the necessary intros to David Higham, and they took me on. I've been there ever since. I must say though that having an agent is not a guarantee of publication any more. The recession has affected mainstream publishers very badly, and they have cut back drastically. Recently I've had novels rejected, even though I have an agent and have been nominated for awards.
Like me you write books for the younger generation. Have you always written for younger people?
Mainly. I wrote and still write a lot of short stories for adults - I've had one broadcast on Radio 4. But my novels tend to be for the 10 -16 age range.
Have you tried writing an adult book?
I'm writing one at the moment, but I'll tell you more about that later.
The Spy Girl series centers on a feisty girl. Was she based on someone you knew?
Jazmin Dawson is a mixture of someone I wish I'd been but wasn't, and my own daughter, who has many of Jazmin's traits. Jamin's relationship with Assia, her mum, often echoes the way my daughter and I got on when she was a teenager: we fought like cat and dog at times, but underneath, we loved each other very much.
Do you plan for the Spy Girl series to stop at a certain point or will you continue them until the ideas run out?
I'd love to see a 5th Spy Girl book published, but that decision lies with Usborne.
That's good to hear and I'm sure Usborne will publish it. Do you have a set routine as a writer and a special place where you work?
As you know from my blog, I write in the sparse, freezing cold writing garret at the top of Hedges Towers!! It also doubles in real life as the third bedroom. I'm very flexible as far as routine goes. You could say my routine is not to have a routine. I try to write every day, but I don't beat myself up about word counts or set goals; life is stressful enough!
I totally agree! What projects are you’re working on right now?
I'm doing the final edits on a Victorian Gothic detective novel. It's called Diamond Girl, and is an affectionate homage to Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins - with a nod to Bram Stoker at the same time.
That's something to look forwqard to. You've helped lots of budding authors on your blogs, but what is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer?
Place backside on chair. Turn on laptop. Write.
One last question, Carol. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?
Ooh - toughie. Well, I'd like to see Diamond Girl achieve publication. Either via a mainstream publisher, or as a self-published ebook. And I'd like to get Village Green status on our playing field. And, as my daughter recently married, I'd like to be a 'gran' . I think that's 3 goals, sorry. That's what happens when you're dealing with someone who failed O-level Maths!
Carol has an excellent blogsite at http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk/
She is on Twitter @CarolJhedges
and her books are available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=carol+hedges