Linda Newbery is an author of many talents. She started off writing books for young adults, winning the Costa Children's Book Prize in 2006 with Set in Stone. She has now published more than thirty books for children and young adults, including picture-books, and books for early readers and older children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, with The Shell House and Sisterland, and Catcall won a Nestle Silver Award.
Here are some of her thoughts on the all-important planning and researching process…
1. I would never choose to plan in a hurry. When I start to have an idea, it needs to settle, and other ideas gather around it. It takes time to see the possibilities of a story.
2. Depending on what you're planning to write, spend time reading, visiting galleries, watching films, going for walks, visiting special places - it all helps to make the world of the story begin to feel solid.
3. Enjoy this stage! I often don't make any notes at all while an idea is fixing itself in my mind - that comes later. But I do start filling a noticeboard with pictures and words, and keep adding to it.
Linda's research noticeboard
4. But don't wait till you've done all your research before you start writing - you might never start. Eventually you have to take the plunge and just begin. You can find out other things you need to know on the way - or afterwards.
5. Writers work in different ways. Some wouldn't start without a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, but that doesn't work for me. Often I start writing when I'm happy that I've got promising ingredients. Planning is very different from writing - more logical, more reasoned - but it can only get me so far. I know that my best ideas won't come until I immerse myself in the writing. I prefer to have an idea of "stepping stones" - important marker-points in the plot - and to see what happens in between.
Linda’s new book, The Treasure House, will be published in May by Orion Children's Books.