Writing books for kids
with Lorraine Gregory

Middle-Grade Children's author, Lorraine Gregory, joins us to talk about writing books for kids and winning the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for England and Ireland 2018. 

Lorraine is author of Mold and the Poison Plot. Her next book, The Maker of Monsters will be published in May 2019.

Writing books for kids: Firstly, congratulations on winning the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for England and Ireland 2018. How did you celebrate?

Thank you! I think a did a bit of twirling about the house when I first heard! My husband took us all out to dinner that evening but the celebrations really took place a few months later at the SCBWI conference in November when I received my award at the Saturday Night Party. It was wonderful to share the joy with all the lovely SCBWI folk and I had a truly delightful time.


Writing books for kids: Can you tell our visitors what your debut novel Mold and the Poison Plot  is about and how you got the idea for the book?

I got the idea while teasing my son about all the mess he’d made with his toys. I threatened to throw them all in the bin, then I threatened to throw him in the bin and I said “But the bin men wouldn’t want you either,” and then my eyes glazed over and I imagined a real baby in a bin and I wondered what happened to him and why he was there and the outline slowly took form over the next day or so. Mold became that baby in the bin and he’s rescued by an old healer called Aggy who raises him in the Dregs among the poor and unwanted. When Aggy is arrested for poisoning the King Mold has to find the truth behind the poison plot to save her from the hangman’s noose. 


Writing books for kids: Mold reminds readers of the importance of empathy. Were tolerance and inclusivity themes you deliberately set out to incorporate?

One of the first things I decided to do in this story was give Mold a big nose because I have a big nose and was constantly teased about it as a child. I realised that big nosed characters were almost always the baddies and never the heroes and I wanted to change that. I wanted children to realise that the things that make us different are also the very things that make us special and we should embrace differences in ourselves and others!

As the story developed the fractured history of Pellegarno and the various tribes who lived there soon became integral to the plot which all tied in perfectly with the themes of inclusion and tolerance and eventually became the core of the story and of Mold himself. 


Writing books for kids: How old you were you when you first started writing?

I was writing stories from a young age. I remember writing great big long adventures at primary school and I asked for a typewriter in my early teens so I could carry on!


Writing books for kids: What does your ideal writing day look like?

I really prefer to write at night when I feel most at peace so ideally I’d like to be able to do that and then be able to have a lie in till 11 or so the next day!


Writing books for kids: How many manuscripts had you written before Mold?

Lots!  Two full manuscripts were edited and sent out to agents and duly rejected and there was another first draft that I was writing when the idea for Mold first came to me. So three full manuscripts altogether before I started writing Mold.


Writing books for kids: Is there anything in particular that you’ve done which has assisted you on your journey to becoming an author which you’d recommend to other writers?

Get feedback. It was really important for me as a way of learning and growing. I started with an online SCBWI crit group, moved on to meeting up with a monthly crit group in real life and when I felt I’d reached a certain level I started looking for ways to get feedback from actual editors. You can get paid for crit’s at conferences or similar events from editors and agents, the Children’s Book Circle also offer the chance to get 1 to 1’s at events in London for a reasonable fee and eventually I joined the Golden Egg Academy to push my writing to the next level.


Writing books for kids: What are you currently working on?

I’m writing a story about dragons just because who doesn’t love dragons?


Writing books for kids: You run a popular Twitter chat for children’s book lovers. How can our visitors join in?

#UKMGCHAT generally runs every 2nd Wednesday evening from 8 till 9pm on Twitter - just follow the hashtag, answer the questions from me or Miriam Craig or just chat about snacks and other malarkey with the lovely bunch of bookish folk who take part.


Our website is called WritingNV.com In the spirit of all things green can you tell us if there are any writers you envy?

Any of them who manage to do it without losing their minds…


Many thanks to Lorraine for joining us.
You can follow Lorraine on Twitter @authorontheedge


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