Writing Kids’ Books with Maz Evans

Writing Kids' Books - Maz Evans

Maz Evans, author of the popular series, Who Let the Gods Out, joined us to talk about writing kids' books.

Who Let the Gods Out, was published by Chicken House in February 2017. It was chosen as the Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month. Who Let the Gods Out received over 20 award nominations, including the Carnegie Medal, Branford Boase, Books Are My Bag and Waterstone's Children's Book of the Year. The sequel, Simply the Quest was published in August 2017 and Beyond the Odyssey was published in April 2018.


Writing Kids' Books: At what age did you start writing?

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t. My first great work “The Ladyberds in my Bathroom” has been lost to the literary cannon after I dropped it down the toilet, aged six. 


Writing Kids' Books: What does your typical writing day look like?

I wish there were one! Ideally, once the Mum stuff is done and kids are deposited at school, I would write for a couple of hours, then exercise, then write some more, then sort world peace etc. In reality, I am to be found scribbling on trains, bus stations, toilets – wherever I can carve out a few minutes to get some words down. 

Writing Kids' Books

WKB: To what extent did you plan the Who Let the Gods Out series before you started writing?

The whole series was pretty much planned before I started – although changed quite significantly from my self-published version to the Chicken House series. I am an unashamed planner – I have to know where I’m going, or I write myself into a hole. I can go off-piste, but with a plan, I can always find my way back to the slopes. 


Writing Kids' Books: Which book has been the easiest to write?

Beyond The Odyssey was a dream. Went down well the first time, a few pretty easy edits and it was done. I doubt that will happen very often!


WKB: You self-published Who Let the Gods Out before it was acquired by Chicken House. Can you tell us what are the main differences for an author between being self-published vs traditionally published. 

The truth is that there isn’t nearly as much difference as I would have thought. Obviously I had total control as a Self-Published author, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing! With Chicken House, I have a lot more support and routes to market – and the book would never have sold to 17 countries from my hands. But the nuts and bolts are the same: you work hard, you travel a lot, you flog your wares. I think self-publishing was excellent preparation for life as an author as I already had my schtick for events that was tried and tested. 


WKB: You deliver the creative writing programme, Story Stew. Has teaching taught you anything about your own writing?

So much. Story Stew came about from my time as a creative writing lecturer at Bournemouth University, when I had six weeks to get a piece of creative writing out of uni students. In working with their writing, I had a great deal of insight into my own. And it taught me that working with their imaginations was sadly not leaving me enough time for my own, so I left to self-publish a book!


WKB: Congratulations on your upcoming musical comedy H R Haitch Is it difficult to switch between script writing, writing lyrics and writing children's books?

Not really – there’s a bit of a gear shift and the latest stint on H.R.Haitch was tricky because I’m a bit rusty as a scriptwriter and I’m right in the middle of writing Gods 4 at the moment. But I just love writing in any form – and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do so. 


Writing Kids' Books: How do you find time for all your different projects? Do you have any time management tips?

Ha! I would never hold myself up as an example because I work pretty much all the time! I’m getting old and struggling to fit it all in now, but the only piece of advice I give is not to fetishise writing. People get into all kinds of silly rituals (“I can only write on the third Thursday of the month with whale song and glass of yak milk…” etc etc) and I think that way madness lies. Writing is like dieting or exercise. There are no shortcuts. You just have to put the hours in if you want to see results. So get on with it. 


WKB: You set up the Book Buddy scheme whereby schools can apply for book donations from authors, bloggers and booksellers. What inspired you to set up the scheme?

Quite simply, what I’m seeing traveling around the UK. There are schools that have no money for books. I’ll just say that again – in a first-world country, there are thousands of schools that can’t buy books for their children. Libraries are statutory in prisons, but not in primary schools. It’s scandalous. 

(You can find our more about the Book Buddy scheme at www.bookbuddy.org.uk)


Our website is called WritingNV.com In that spirit can you tell us if there are any writers which make you green with envy?

Many! But I think that envy is a wasted emotion. I prefer to admire and aspire. 


Many thanks to Maz Evans for taking the time to join us. You can find out more about Maz on her website http://maz.world and follow her on Twitter @MaryAliceEvans


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