My first job was in the film industry, working as a casting assistant. I discovered I had a knack for working with young people and spent a number of years specialising in casting young people in TV and film roles. I think people find it strange that I took the jump from working in casting to being a school librarian, but it didn’t feel like a jump at all. Both roles are about helping young people use their imagination to engage with stories. The difference is that being a school librarian allows me to do lots of other things too. I think it’s important to know yourself well. I know I would struggle at home writing full time. I like the rhythms of the school year and the social aspect of school and I know that if I didn’t see the kids, my writing would stagnate. So, I only write one book a year not two, but it means I get the best of both worlds.
It also means I get to do exactly what I want to do without worrying about money. I know my mortgage is covered and that gives me the freedom to write exactly what I want to. The non-fiction articles I write are always led by ideas that I have had, about things that I am interested in exploring. It means that I work with the charities I feel passionate about and want to help. Sometimes I get paid for what I write and sometimes I don’t, but it isn’t necessarily about that for me, it’s about getting the opportunity to explore the ideas I want to explore and work with people that I find inspiring.
There are some key things I did that I would advise anyone who is interested in being a writer to do. I went on an Arvon writing course where I met my friend Anna, who became one of the most important creative partnerships and friends I have. We started an online teen magazine together and founded a writers group for people who wanted to write similar books to us. I was published because I entered a competition to find new writing talent, and I have got lots of paid work because I did work for free for people that I felt were like minded and interested in the same things I am.
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