Robert Swindells Interview

Robert Swindells, author of Room 13, Timesnatch and Stone Cold, answered these questions for me in 2005.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

They Found a Cave by Nan Chauncy - published in the 1940s, still in print. Set in Tasmania.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?

Brother in the Land because of the harrowing nature of the subject: nuclear war and its aftermath.

How do you write your books? Do you plot and plan in detail, or do you develop an idea as you are writing?

I plot in advance, though ideas do pop up and cause me to change things as I go along.

Why do you enjoy writing for children?

Children have open, repetive minds. They like a pacy, exciting storyline. Getting youngsters hooked on reading is one of the most worthwhile things anybody can do.

What advice would you give to young writers to help them improve their stories?

Read, read, read. That's the first thing. Try not to copy other writers' ideas. Set your stories in places you know. Let your characters be the sort of people you know.

Remember: Exciting stuff can happen anywhere, to anyone. Ordinary people in ordinary places, having extraordinary experiences. Stephen King calls this 'making skyhooks out of old coathangers'. He seems to be doing all right!

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