Your final book ‘The Spook’s Revenge’ is released this month (December 2013), out of all the Spook’s series which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I enjoyed writing ‘The Spook’s Battle’ the most. It was a happy time in my life and I had become a full-time writer. I was sending the Spook and Tom east to face the Pendle Witches. It is the only book I did deliberate research for but then I threw most of it away and the story flowed out with ease. It is the first story where Grimalkin, the witch assassin, appears and also the witches summon the Fiend to our world. It is also the longest book in the series.
Is being an author all you expected it to be?
Yes I like being an author. My job is writing and I get paid for doing what I enjoy! I also get to travel all over England and visit lots of other countries too.
What would be your top tip to a young author?
I think a young author needs to read widely from many different genres. As you read you are being learning how to write.
Most of the places in the Spook’s books are based on real places in Lancashire and often some of the stories come from local ghost stories and legends. Could you share a spooky story with us?
I live in a village called Stalmine and it has a boggart which is now bound under the step of a cottage belonging to the local church. There are many types of boggart: some take on the shapes of animals, play tricks or scare people. Some even help with the chores. This one was like a poltergeist. It made noises, pushed over tombstones and rattled the church door scaring away the parishioners. As far as I know there were no spooks around so finally, a brave priest said the correct prayers and bound the boggart. That tale was my inspiration for ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’.
When writing do you struggle with any part of the story?
Yes sometimes I am not certain which direction the plot should take and I have to wait for further inspiration. You see, I discover my narratives and do not plan much in advance.
Who is your favourite author and why?
My favourite author is Tolkien who has inspired many writers to follow in his footsteps (including me). Also his books can be read and enjoyed again and again (which is my test of excellent story-telling).
Do your children and grandchildren read your books?
My nine grandchildren range from a baby to a seventeen year old. Some do read the books and I have visited their schools to give talks there.
What made you write your first ever novel?
Reading inspired me. Each really good book inspired me to write myself. At last I wrote a novel but it got rejected. My path to being published is littered with rejection slips.
What is the most exciting part of being a published author and why?
I like all of it from the actual writing to the school visits and the travel. But the best bit isgetting a good story idea and turning it into words.
What is the stand out moment in your career as a published author?
There have been many memorable moments. Perhaps the ‘bidding war’ in the USA for the first Spook’s book is the one that changed my life. The result was that I was able to leave my teaching job and become a full-time author of children’s books.
What are your plans for the future?
I will continue writing. In 2014 a new series of books from the world of the Spook will be published. In 2015 the first book from my new Science Fiction trilogy for children will be in shops. I hope to enjoy writing both series to ensure their success.