Category Archives: Writing 4 Children

An interview with… Cath Howe

In the November 2018 edition of Writers Forum I have interviewed Cath Howe about her book Let’s Perform! She explained how her love of drama for children was developed into the ideal educational resource for schools.

CH4

Cath Howe has written books for children for many years, which include books of plays, educational readers and commercial fiction.

Let’s Perform! is an accumulation of 10 years experience of using monologues, duologues and poems for children to perform. Each script has suggestions for performance and creative suggestions for pupil’s own writing. Learning by heart is part of the UK National Curriculum and this book meets the target whilst encouraging children to develop a keen interest in performance.

Let's Perform good version

When she first wrote the plays and others scripts she was not trying to get them published . The audience was the school full of parents and children she was working at. All the scripts have been tried and tested at schools and festivals. Cath says:

It was important that the book uses scenarios, language and humour that children can really relate to and make their own, because this helps to get them excited about the prospect of performing. I wrote each script with the idea of showing a child or two characters in a dilemma or puzzling over a problem. I chose everyday things.

In the interview, Cath advises new writers for children to get feedback on their work in an environment where they will be encouraged and not to give up doing what you love. You can read the full interview in the Nov 2018 #205 issue of Writers Forum.

Since then Cath has told me:

Ella on the Outside2When I wrote Ella on the Outside, which was published in May 2018, I was very influenced by my interest in drama and my long connection with running drama clubs and workshops. There’s something about the way children relate to one another, especially the subtle power play of groups, which really fascinates me. I like to write duologues where one character is much more powerful than another and get children up on their feet acting these out.  Ella on the Outside is a lot to do with the power play of the playground, especially between girls.

You can find out more about Cath Howe and her books here: www.cathhowe.com

Or follow her on Twitter @cath_howe

An interview with… Becky Bagnell

My Writing 4 Children column was launched in the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum in May 2016. It has show-cased an interview every month with top authors, editors and agents for over two years. The very first feature was with  Becky Bagnell founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency.

Becky Bagnell magazine

She provided some valuable insights into the children’s book world and explained to me what she looks for in a manuscript, what makes a good children’s book agent and what makes a great children’s book.

Becky set up the Lindsay Literary Agency in 2008 having worked as a commissioning editor for Macmillan. The agency represents a wide range of authors including Pamela Butchart, who won 2015’s Blue Peter Award. She has a particular interest in discovering new talent from picture books to YA.

I heard Becky talk at this year’s SCBWI Agent’s Party. She said her favourite commercial debut book this year was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. This gives an indication of Becky’s taste and writing styles which will grab her attention.

Conversation with Friends

In her interview for Writers’ Forum Becky told me she likes to dive straight into the manuscript before reading the submission letter and the synopsis. This reiterates what she said in her interview with me.

I like to get that excited feeling about a manuscript at the very first paragraph, and if I’m still keen after the first three chapters it is a pretty good sign.

She suggests that you look at that agent’s list of authors and really consider if you like any of their work and if you do then tell the agent what it about a certain book or author that appeals to you. Even if their work is completely different to your own – it shows that you’re a reader and you’re thinking about how your writing might fit alongside the other authors that the agent is working with.

You can find out more about Becky Bagnell’s likes and dislikes for submissions in the May 2016 #175 issue of Writers Forum.