Writing Kids Books
with Catherine Coe

Writing Kids Books - Catherine CoeCatherine Coe

Author and Editor Catherine Coe kindly spoke to Victoria's daughter Summer about writing kids' books. Like many children her age Summer is a huge fan of Catherine Coes' Blossom Wood series so she was most excited to quiz her about writing and her inspiration for the books.

Writing Kids' Books: Who inspired your characters?

Writing kids booksSummer interviewing Catherine Coe
Sometimes my friends inspire characters. For example in The Owls of Blossom Wood I borrowed one of the character’s names from my best friend Alex. She inspired the character of Alex. I have another friend called Katie and she inspired that character. She’s quite outgoing so I made the character of Katie similar.

And sometimes I think about what would be a nice balance of characters. In The Owls of Blossom Wood I wanted to have different types of characters. I wanted to have a shy character like Alex, another more outgoing character like Katie and have a character who’s quite creative like Eva. 

Writing Kids' Books: Where did you get the ideas for the story?

The idea for the Owls of Blossom Wood came from, when I was your age and I really wanted to be able to fly. When I sat down I thought I really want to get into a story the idea of children who can fly. So that’s where the idea came from. I want to have them turning into some kind of bird. I really love owls so I decided to have them turn into owls. I was living in Suffolk at the time and there was an Owl Sanctuary nearby. I spent lots of time with the owls there for research.

Writing Kids' Books: When did you start writing books?

Probably when I was about your age. Do you write stories?

Summer: Yes I’ve written two. They’re called Heartland.

Catherine: Excellent. I’ve been writing since I was a child and never gave it up. So if you want to become a writer definitely keep writing. It all helps. Even if the books never get published. I’ve got lots of books that I’ve written that will never get published but it helps to develop your writing so you can make up even better stories.

Writing Kids' Books: What are your favourite books?

That’s a really difficult question because it changes all the time. One of my favourite books is The Hobbit by Tolkien. However, the book that I’ve read the most is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

I went through a stage of being obsessed with it and I read it again and again and again. You can probably tell in the books that I write because I send my characters off to different lands where they can have magical adventures. That’s part of what Enid Blyton does isn’t it.  She sends her characters off to these amazing lands where you never know what’s going to happen. I thought that was the best thing ever and that’s why I couldn’t stop reading them.

Writing Kids' Books: Do you have pets?

Writing Kids Books - StockholmStockholm

No I don’t have pets sadly. I live in Stockholm at the moment, in Sweden. Part of it is in the arctic circle. It gets quite snowy here. I move around a lot which wouldn’t work with pets. It wouldn’t be very nice for them. I travel a lot. I come back to England often.

When I was 10 I had a rabbit called Gigsy.

Summer: I have two rabbits and a cat.

Writing Kids' Books: What is your favourite thing about being an author?

I get asked this question a lot. I get to read and write books all day every day. It’s my dream job. When I was your age, I didn’t know that would even be possible.

I love going into schools, meeting children and talking about books.

And I also love that I get to work from home so I can work in my pyjamas.  That’s quite fun.

Writing Kids' Books: Where do you like to write?

I like lots of peace and quiet so I write at home pretty much all the time. I know that some writers like to write in cafes but I can’t even listen to music when I’m writing. I have a little corner of our dining room and I write there. All my books are here. Before living in Stockholm I lived in Belgium and I brought all my books with me. When my husband and I move countries we need a big removal lorry to fit in all my books.

Writing Kids' Books: Do you like owls?

Yes, as I mentioned I spent a lot of time with owls at Fritton Owl Sanctuary and I found out so much about how different and gentle they are. I got to hold them. 

Catherine :Do you know what a sanctuary is? 

Summer: No

Catherine: It’s where they look after owls when they’re injured. Sometimes they’re brought in because maybe they’ve broken a wing or baby owls have been brought in because they’ve lost their mother. The sanctuary had all kinds of owls from Barn Owls to Snowy Owls, American Eagle Owls to little owls. 

I learnt some pretty cool facts while I was there about owls. They can do some pretty cool things like turn their heads around almost 360 degrees. Did you know they have three sets of eye lids? 

Summer: What?

Catherine: One set for sleeping, one set for blinking and one set for cleaning.

Summer: My next question was, Have you held an Owl? I have.

Catherine: When did you hold an owl?

Summer: Two months ago. It was a white owl. The claws felt very heavy but the body was very light.

Catherine: They can look quite big but they’re quite light as they’re made up of so many feathers.

Writing Kids Books - Summer holding an owlSummer holding an owl

Writing Kids' Books: How much do you like writing?

I love writing but sometimes it’s hard. Some days I can’t think of any ideas or I can’t decide how to write a sentence. So I have good days and bad days. Some days I sit down at my desk and no ideas come so I have to do something else. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. But I love writing. Sometimes I’ll have ideas when I first wake up in the morning so I keep a notepad by the side of the bed so I can write them down before I forget them.

Writing Kids' Books: Do you edit your own books?

No I do not. I am an editor as well, I’m guessing you know that, but I can’t edit my own books. It’s hard to check your own work and see if you’ve done anything wrong or if it could be better. I always have an editor because I get too close to it. I work with some great editors at Scholastic, my publisher, and they help me make it better.

Writing Kids' Books: What are you writing at the moment?

I’m writing a new series about bunnies. It’s not going to be published until 2020 probably. I’m also writing a book for older children, nine years and above, about Merpeople. I really like the ocean, so I wanted to write about creatures who live in it like Merpeople.

Catherine: How old are you now?

Summer: I’m seven.

Catherine: So hopefully when you’re nine it will be published.

Catherine: Do you have any more questions?

Summer: No.

Catherine: What are your favourite books?

Summer: Your books and Rainbow Magic

Catherine: I used to work on Rainbow Magic when I worked for the publisher Orchard Books. I sometimes got to decide what type of fairies they were going to have.

Summer: Wow!

Many thanks to Catherine Coe for taking the time to chat to Summer. You can find out more about Catherine on her website  and follow her on Twitter 

More interviews you might like

·        Vashti Hardy, author of Brightstorm
·         Katherine Wiseman, author of Gangster School
·         Tony Bradman, lead author of Project X
·        Jini Reddy, author of Wild Times
·        Lorraine Cannell, author of Hollow

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