Author Interview Claire O’Brien

Download C_OBRIEN_053_S.jpg (1586.3 KB)First question, I see you’re a Brit, which is cool, so am I! Give our readers some background info!

I grew up in Nottingham, which is a city right in the middle of England. My friends and I spent the holidays playing in abandoned allotments, climbing trees and eating the plums and gooseberries we found there. I have lived in different parts of England and Scotland and I now share a sunny flat in London with my partner, Robert. I love the beautiful museums and galleries here, and being able to hear different languages every day. It’s a very international city. I have one grown up son, Ewan, who is a digital musician. He spends a lot of time inventing strange new musical instruments that spin and whirr.
Nottingham is awesome, I love that place! Can you tell us about Cordelia Codd? Where did you get the idea for this story?
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Cordelia just popped into my head one day, chattering away, being funny and cross about lots of things. Most of her is completely made up – you need a WILD imagination to be a writer! Some of the things that happen in my storis, like being bullied at school or Cordelia’s parents falling out are experiences that lots of children have. I used to be a teacher so I have talked to children who know how this feels and I am certain that, even if we have tough stuff to deal with in our lives, we can come through these bad times happy and strong, like Cordelia.  I want all my readers to be so confident and optimistic that they will never be sad for long, no matter what might happen to them.
You’ve been compared to Jacqueline Wilson (One of my favourite authors as a kid) would you agree? What writers inspire you?
Wow! I feel very flattered to be compared to Jacqueline Wilson because I think he books have helped many children to stay strong and cheerful through difficult times. Judy Blume and Jean Ure are two other writers who have given us funny and helpful books – you might want to check them out if you haven’t read their stories. I also admire Sita Bramachari, who wrote a wonderful book called Arthichoke Hearts, which deals with the death of a beloved grandparent very beautifully. Arthur Ransome, was another great writer. He wrote the classic, Swallows and Amazons series. I admire him for allowing his characters so much freedom, much more than most children are allowed these days, and I love Roald Dahl for being so outrageous and funny and rude. I read all his stories with my son when he was young and we laughed SO much.  
Some people would say writing for children is easier/simpler or not “real” writing. What would you say to those people?
I would say, ‘Okay, try it.’ Then I would chuckle to myself and think ‘He/She has NO idea how difficult this is going to be.’
What practical advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I am always honest about this question. If you can think of anything else that would make you happy then do that instead. Writing is VERY tough and only a few lucky authors make enough money to pay their bills. Most writers, including myself, have to have another job as well. However, if you feel that you MUST write or else you will EXPLODE and that nothing else will EVER make you happy, then you should start by going out in the world and having an interesting life. Meet lots of people, do lots of different jobs, travel, and be very observant. Keep a diary or notebook to jot down interesting conversations and things that you see. Take photos, too. Read as much as you can so that you can find out what type of book you love because this is probably the type of book that you should write. After all, who wants to write a book that they wouldn’t want to read themselves? Then, one day, the time will come for you to start putting your ideas down as stories. It may be very soon or it may be when you are much older. If you are a writer DEEP down inside then you will know when the time is right.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this and what was the easiest?
One of the toughest things is that until you are published most people think that you are just a dreamer who should get a proper job, so you have to believe in yourself 100%, which isn’t an easy feeling to hang on to. Sometimes you want to give up and say, ‘They’re right, I’m probably no good as a writer, I should do something else instead.’ But that’s when you MUST keep going.
The great part is when I receive messages from young people who have read and enjoyed my books. That’s the BEST feeling in the world!
Finally if you had the ability to teleport where in the world would you go and why?  
So MANY places. I would do a huge tour all over space and time, then I would come back home and get on with writing my next story because that’s where I am happiest.

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