I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have the fabulous Celine Kiernan on my blog today. I read Begone The Raggedy Witches last year, and absolutely loved it. And the sequel, The Little Grey Girl, was published recently.
She gets described by the press as “Ireland’s answer to JK Rowling”, but I really don’t think this does her justice. She has a magical quality to her writing – I’m more in the world of CS Lewis and E Nesbit.
Anyway, we had a little chat, although she did have to vanish up into the attic for a while in the middle, and here it is. How she didn’t end up a crime writer is beyond me – you’ll see what I mean!
What kind of stories did you write as a child?
Weird, dark, spooky stories, such as the one about the murderously xenophobic astronaut trapped on a crippled ship with the ghosts of the crew they poisoned and the hapless alien hitchhiker who was their intended victim.
Could you share a childhood pic of yourself, or your early writing, if by some lucky chance they’re still shoved in your parent’s attic?
Me as a kid:
You just sent me off on a very dusty hunt to look for some school day’s writing (If I have an asthma attack, it’ll be your fault)
I had an idea that I might have had some old copybooks in a trunk in my husband’s office, but in fact I turned out to have a wee folder of typed stories! My mam and dad bought me a huge old second-hand dinosaur of a typewriter when I was about 12, and I used to tippy-tap away at the kitchen table almost every night. Here are sections from a few of my stories (including the murderous astronaut one!) It’s hard for me to believe I wrote these as a child. They seem far more mature than I recall myself being.
And a tough one: the Magic Faraway tree or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
Alice in Wonderland every damned time (though I prefer Alice Through the Looking Glass!)
What are your top tips for children wanting to develop their writing skills?
Don’t worry about what you think other people want to read, find a story that you want to tell. Write that story without fear or worry or shyness. Be true to yourself and what you want to say. Everything else – spelling, grammar, punctuation, all that stuff – can be learned or fixed later: even if you’re dyslexic ( I know, because I am dyslexic)