Last month I did a Skype interview with Year Seven at Sir Harry Johnston International School (@SHJSecondary), Malawi. It was part of a monthly author talk facilitated by my friend Col (@touristcol) who currently works there, and following in the footsteps of the lovely Adrian Magson.
We had a brilliant chat all about the books we love reading, the stories we love writing, and the publishing process. Each of the students went away and wrote up their accounts of what was said, and I'd love to share some of my favourite bits with you...
Marion is an amazing author because she enjoys writing books. She was born in the UK but lives in and loves Rwanda in Africa. The amazing author mostly writes books for adults. Let me tell you all about her... - Zahid
Marion said she liked reading a lot us a child. She enjoyed reading lots of different books. She also just got to play or watch television... - James
Marion was bad at punctuation and grammar. She said “I was good at other things but grammar was hard and so was punctuation”. But she didn’t give up; she kept on trying and then managed to get better at the technical part of writing. - Mphukira
When we asked her what she does if she runs out of ideas, she said "you cannot run out of ideas. If you run out, the world is full of ideas.” Those words inspired us to write. Your mind is full of ideas so there is a limitless amount of stories that you can create. - Angelo
“In all books there is always some part of real life. You write what you imagine, you imagine what you live,” explained Marion. She also said “In some books while you’re writing you run out of ideas, so if that ever happens, relax for a bit, take a break and eventually you will get your inspiration.” - Zahid
If you get stuck on sentence or if you are generally stuck, go out and do something, that’s what she said. “Enjoy life and it will inspire you.” I think that’s true because life does inspire you to do more... Ms.Woolley told us she loves writing historical fantasy stories based in the past. She says, “It’s like having a time machine and going back to re-write the past.” - Adam
She said that her favourite book depended on her age, but there were two series that she enjoyed most. The first was Point Horror. These were short and easy to get into, but it kept her awake at night. The other was Fighting Fantasy books which were very important, “It’s not a novel, you choose your own adventure,” she said. It taught her how to write and create worlds... Ms. Woolley told us that she doesn’t based characters on people she know. “It’s not a good idea.” People could get upset. Some people think they see themselves in characters because stories influence how people see themselves. - Trang Anh
When Marion is writing she likes villains because she says it is easier to surprise your reader. This author mostly reads dark stories because they used to keep her awake at night when she read them, also because they have very interesting villains. To write a scary story you have to remember it's what you don't tell them. “Don't give them monsters, give them footsteps.” - Sam
Talking to Marion was a great experience because we have learnt new skills in our writing. She loves what she does and I think what she does is amazing too. Marion has told us a lot and I’m looking forward to applying it to my next piece of writing. I’d like to thank you Marion Woolley. I really enjoyed our Skype-a-view! - Tamika
What a thoroughly lovely, lively and engaging group of students. It really was a pleasure to talk with them.
If you're an author interested in inspiring the next generation of readers, drop Col a tweet in the new year to ask about opportunities for outreach.