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.
I like hearing stories and telling stories and have done for my entire life. There isn’t really a set path I don’t think. Just try and get the most out of every job you have. They will all help you refine until you know you have found your groove and are in the best place for you.
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