Author Confessions: Liz Kessler

Liz Kessler
Category: Writing

Liz Kessler has worked as a journalist and a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of sixteen books for children and young adults. Her popular Emily Windsnap series has reached the bestseller list, and the next in the series will be published in 2015. Her newest YA novel, Read Me Like a Book was recently published and Liz has found time to take a few moments and tell us about how she handles book reviews, which piece of writing she is most proud of and more...

When do you write best?

I generally write best in the mornings. I like to wake up early and get to work straight away with a cup of tea and the dog curled up asleep on the carpet next to my desk.

How do you react to bad reviews?

I really try hard not to read reviews as they can spoil your day if they’re not perfect! I find that for most of us, we can read twenty good ones, and the one that’s slightly less than enthusiastic will be the one that sticks in our minds! So where possible, I avoid them! I do believe that people are entitled to their own views, so unless the review is particularly harsh (which I don’t think they have been up to now!) then it doesn’t upset me too much. My new YA novel Read Me Like A Book has attracted more reviews than usual. Up to now, they’ve been mostly LOVELY and that makes me jump in the air and cheer out loud!

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?

The book I am most proud of is the one which has just come out after a fifteen-year wait. Read Me Like A Book is my first YA book and is about a seventeen-year-old girl coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out as gay. I am proud of all my books – but this one has an extra special place for me.

Don’t give up... Sometimes a book has to wait for its time to come.

Is writing a pain or a pleasure?

Mostly a pleasure and a privilege. Sometimes it is difficult. (Like any job!) So I’d say 90% pleasure, 10% pain.

What’s your most extreme research story?

I wrote a book that was set in the Bermuda Triangle – and had a two-week research trip to Bermuda! Perhaps not exactly extreme, but it was certainly the best one I’ve ever had! I’ve also visited castles hidden by mist, towns that have been washed away by the sea. I have spent a night sleeping in a treehouse and all sorts of other things for research!

Which book should every child read?

I don’t subscribe to the opinion that there are particular books that every child should read. I believe every child should read the book that excites them. If a child discovers a book that they love, it is much more likely to switch them on to a passion for reading than if they are handed a list of books they ‘must’ read.

Read Me Like a Book
Do you ever mentally edit someone else’s work while you read?

Oh heck. I do this way too much. I don’t even restrict it to books. I get frustrated when people don’t use apostrophes correctly on Facebook! (I have even made my partner rewrite her status updates because of my grammar uptightness!)

Have you ever cried in public because of a book?

ALL THE TIME! Most recently, I did this whilst reading Clare Furniss’s Year of the Rat on holiday. I lay in the sunshine on a sunbed blubbing all the way through it!

What’s your opinion on reading in the bath?

I do it all the time. My strongest opinion on this, however, is that it is much safer to do this with a real book than with an e-reader. My dad was staying with us recently and dropped his kindle in the bath. LUCKILY he caught it in time and after a night on the radiator, it survived.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?

Right now, my advice would be: don’t give up. I wrote Read Me Like A Book fifteen years ago and it was rejected by everyone back then. I took it back to my publisher two years ago, and it has JUST come out. Sometimes a book has to wait for its time to come.

Discover more secrets from writers including Irvine Welsh and Lucy Ribchester in our Author Confessions archive.