FAQ's

How and why did you start writing books?
I began writing books because I believed I would be able to provide interesting stories for children that would encourage them in their love of reading. To begin getting published, I had to be persistent and just keep on trying.

 

When did you start writing books, and what age were you?
I was about 16 when I first began writing.  My first written piece was rejected.  I didn't try again until I was 37 when Penguin published 'Unreal'.

Where do you get your ideas from?
From everywhere, experiences I have, people I meet and childhood memories.

How many ideas have you come up with?
I have come up with so many ideas that I have to keep an ideas book. I don't necessarily use them straight away but if I write them down I won't forget them.

How do you come up with a twist?
I try to think of things that don't go together, and then I think hard about how they can be linked in an unusual way.

Do you enjoy your job?
I love my job. It's an obsession, a way of making your dreams come true, a way of dreaming. It's also a way of exploring your inner feelings and its fun.

Do you have a special place to write?

I do all my writing in my office at home.  I like to be on my own when I am writing and I prefer to write in the morning with the sunshine streaming in the window.
 
Do you get writers block?
I don't believe in writers block - it just means you can't think of anything and the way over it is the same as for most things - hard work and don't give up..

Do you have any writing tips?

Some writing tips are: 1/  Think of a weird or unusual idea which the reader can't resist; 2/ Use short sentences to hook the reader in and to make the story sound tense and exciting; 3/ Short paragraphs are easier for the reader, and 4/ introduce dialogue to involve the characters, help reveal their personalities and add new information to the plot.

What is the process of writing a book?
Begin with a great idea. You have to write many drafts of your story and when you are happy with it, it is sent off to a publisher.

Do you type the stories yourself?
I do type the stories myself on my computer.  When I started writing books I first wrote the storey down in a notebook and then typed it on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

How do you send your books off to get published?
I type my manuscripts using a Word program then I email them to my editor. 

What advice do you give to children that have a desire to be an author?
Never give up!

Which book took the longest to write and how long did it take?
My latest novel, 'The Nest', was the longest.  It took almost four years to write.

Which took the shortest to write?
The Rascal stories only take a day to write (a little longer to be perfected though).

Why do you write mainly short stories instead of novels?
My stories are generally for 8-12 year olds. Short stories hold the interest of this age group best, especially readers who are reluctant as longer books can put children off. The only novel I have written for teenagers is The Nest.

Who was your biggest influence?
My mother instilled a love of reading in me, so I guess I can thank her for starting me off.

How many books have you sold?
Over 8.9 million.

How many languages are your books published in?
My books have now been published in 18 languages.

When writing a book, who are you aiming to please? Yourself, the reader or your editor?
When I write a story I am writing with the reader in mind.

Do you feel accomplished when you find out how avid readers of your books are?
I am always honoured when I hear how much people like my stories.

How many books have you written?
Including all the new Rascal books, I have published 70 books.

What are the names of your best sellers?
My best selling book is Unreal, having sold 608,000 books.

Do you like reading your own books?
No, not really. I very rarely go back to them after I have finished them.

Do you plan to write any more books with Morris Gleitzman?
Morris and I have no plans to write any more books together at the moment, but hey, you never know!

Where did you get the Gizmo book idea?
The first story is about a boy who stole something. The only time I ever stole anything was when I was six and I still feel guilty about it.

How long has Singenpoo been in your life?
Singenpoo first came into my life in 1989.  Since then I've written four stories about her.

Was the Ice Maiden story based on something that happened to you?
The Ice Maiden was not based on my own experience, but it came from a story I heard from someone else who got their tongue stuck on the ice in their freezer.

Do you have any pets?
I don't have any pets because I live in the bush and I don't want them eating and chasing the birds and wildlife.  But we did have family cats when I lived in the city and my children loved them very much.

How old are you?
I was born in 1943.

Do you have any children?
I have six children and nine grandchildren.

What are your childrens names?
My childrens names are: Tracy, Lyndu, Andrew, Sally, Gemma and Bronson. 
My granchildren are: Anthony, Sarah, Jamie, Kayle, Andrew, Jermaine, Kyle, Sage and Arley.

 

Is anyone else a famous writer in the family?
No, there hasn't been one before me and, as yet, no other younger member of the family are famous writers.

Have you done any of the things in your stories?
I haven't done all the things in my stories (thank goodness) - there are a few things though as often the main character is based on me as a child. I don't want to give away all of my secrets so you will have to do a bit of guess work!

Do your friends think you're weird?
I haven't actually asked my friends, but we have all been friends for many years and we all get on extremely well. If they do think I am weird it hasn't affected our friendship and I think that is all that matters.

Where did you grow up and how many brothers and sisters do you have?
I was born in England and moved to Australia when I was six, so most of my growing up was in Melbourne. I have one sister, called Ruth.

Do you, or did you, play any sport?. What sport?
I used to play squash and tennis and I liked playing marbles as a kid. Now I enjoy walking around my property for exercise.

What is your favourite food?
I love Bread and Butter Pudding.

What is your favourite past-time?
Reading, walking along the beach, spending time with friends and family and gardening.

Is Paul Jennings your real name?
Yes it is.

Do you have an accent?
When I first arrived in Australia I had an english accent.  I got teased at school for it and very quickly changed it to an Australian accent so I could fit in.