Hugest welcome to the wonderful Saviour Pirotta. An author and playwright, his first children’s book was published back in the late 1980s and he has since produced picture books, collections of myths and legends, middle grade novels and early readers. Wow! Super excited that he is here to answer the My Book Corner questions today… PSst: they are FULL of great things!
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
Author. Reader. I love writing, reading, walking on the beach, cooking for friends and collecting things, especially books. I love books more than air.
Where is your favourite place to create?
When I’m writing, I go to a place in my head I call The Mental Writing Room. It’s a state of mind really, where nothing exists but my story, the characters, the world they inhabit. Everything in the real world just becomes a fuzzy backdrop to it. When I’m planning the story, I like working in coffee shops, especially the ones on Scarborough seafront where I live. My favourite in summer is called The Clock Café. It overlooks South Beach and has a wonderful terrace. Most of the people who use it are out walking their dogs, so it’s always packed with gorgeous pets having secret pow-wows under the table while their owners indulge in coffee and cake, or the café’s world-famous scampi and chips. Sometimes I try to imagine what the dogs are saying to each other. They mostly talk with their ears. In winter, I move indoors to a café called The Waterfront. I often just sit behind the glass window and watch the sea. You get to see the most fantastic storms and splendid rainbows.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
I’m just finishing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I’m finding quite heavy going. When I finish, I’m going to read Vanessa Harbour’s Flight, followed by Mary Hoffman’s Tilt, Ian Beck’s The Bakery of Happiness (which are both quick reads), then I have to decide between Eloise William’s Seaglass and Gaslight.
What’s your worst habit?
Not believing enough in my ideas. The many times I’ve given up on stories because people tell me ‘that’s been done already’ or ‘is that it?’, only to see a similar book in the shops some time later. I’m also guilty of eating crisps while reading in bed. And I use the word ‘awesome’ too much.
You are a bit of an expert when it comes to events and school visits… can you offer words of wisdom to fellow authors?
Just be yourself. People are happy to just meet someone who has been published. I prepare thoroughly for the event but when it starts, I relax and enjoy it. If you’re passionate about books, that comes across to the audience.
The strangest question you’ve even been asked?
As an author. Do you have a toilet at home? I’m not kidding. I actually got asked that question by a Year 1 kid. I still have no idea why.
Your favourite word(?
All time favourite word: ice-cream, for obvious reasons, closely followed by vanilla and hot fudge. I also love the words ‘thank you’ and ‘the end’, which means I’ve finished a book. This applies to both writing and reading.
What are your top tips for budding children’s writers?
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to explore ideas no one has tackled before. Believe in yourself. Write, rewrite and keep on doing it till it flows like water. The first draft is just getting rid of the obvious ideas in your head.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake)
I’m working on the third book of my Wolfsong series for Maverick. It doesn’t have a title yet but I call it The Forbidden Temple. The series is set at the end of the Neolithic Age. It starts off in Skara Brae, in the Orkneys (Book 1: The Stolen Spear), moves to Stonehenge for the second book (The Whispering Stones) and then on to the island of Malta for the book I’m working on now. The last book in the series might be set in Turkey but I’m not sure. The stars of the series are a boy called Wolf and his best friend, a chief’s daughter called Crow. Wolf lacks confidence and Crow has bundles of it. They’re like chalk and cheese but together they are a perfect team. In The Stolen Spear, they are accused of stealing a sacred spear from inside a burial mound and they have to prove that they are innocent. In my wip, they have to break into a forbidden temple where no one ever has survived the night. It’s a real temple in Malta called the Hypogeum, and it’s proper spooky.. …(can I have my cake now, please?)
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea, preferably from Bettys in Harrogate, although I do like a coffee in the morning to get me going.
Seaside or countryside? I love the countryside, especially in Yorkshire where I live. But the seaside wins, I think. It’s the ice-cream.
Paper books or e-books? I’ve tried e-books but I think e-readers look really boring. I just love paper books, especially vintage ones. I collect old editions and have over twenty copies of Treasure Island.
Cake or chocolate? Both, sad to say. Sometimes together. With chocolate ice-cream.
Write or type? Both! I write my first drafts in longhand, using a pencil so I can rub out stuff until I’m happy. Then I write a second draft with a fountain pen. I find pens make you write slower, giving your brain time to catch up with your hand. When I’m reasonably happy with the work in progress, I type it up into my mac.
Poetry or prose? I love both equally. I read both and write both, although I’ve never shown anyone my poems.
Hot or cold? I was brought up in a Mediterranean country but I can’t work in the heat. So I guess it’s cold.