Hugest welcome to prolific children’s author Colin R Parsons. Colin’s a bit of an expert when it comes to school visits too, so I couldn’t resist picking his brains…
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I’m a weirdly, fun person who likes to write more than breathe (which is really difficult). I’m welsh and proud of it.
Wizards’ Exile, your latest book, has just been released. How did it come to be?
I wrote a trilogy about wizards when I was first published in 2005 – Wizards’ Kingdom. That was all about your Gandalf type sorcerer, all hooded robes and white horses. I’ve always wanted to do a more modern story about wizards. So I did, and added dragons. I also threw in cities in the sky. There’s even a prison called… wait for it: Skytraz, which I acquired from a certain rock. Most of the story takes place in the air with ships that float like clouds and… I’d better not give too much away.
Where is your favourite place to create?
I do a lot of travelling, so where ever I am is where I work. There is a place though that I visit when I can and gives me great ideas. It’s somewhere called Laugharne (pronounced Larn) in west Wales where Dylan Thomas lived and wrote his poetry. It’s a magical place and his “Writing Shed” overlooks the estuary. There’s a ruined castle with rich green grass surrounding it and tables with benches. It’s a perfect place to write and my wife loves the Boat House where Dylan Thomas lived. They do lovely coffees.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel. Book of Dust by Philip Pullman and Skulduggery Pleasant book 10 & 11 by Derek Landy.
What’s your worst habit?
Oh… um… shouting at the word auto-correct facility on my phone.
You are a bit of an expert when it comes to events and school visits… can you offer words of wisdom to fellow authors?
In schools definitely don’t talk down to pupils and students, or they will switch off right away and won’t respect you. If you’re a no nonsense kind of person, you must add humour to your dialogue, or again you’ll lose them. Be informative, but also be kind. They’re kids after all and they’ll get plenty of negative feedback throughout their lives. Encourage pupils in their efforts and they’ll respond by writing more. Try to steer them away from the “Once upon a time syndrome”, oh boy that’s hard work. As regards to doing a presentation or performance on stage – practice on someone before hand, so that it becomes second nature. I started off with a small group of children (back in the day) and gradually it got easier and I found I could handle bigger audiences. Now I can perform in front of many hundreds.
The strangest question you’ve even been asked?
As an author. “Do you enjoy writing?”
Your favourite word(s)?
Supreme (it’s such a smooth sounding word). Unorthodox (because it’s the way I write and not the way you’re supposed to prepare).
What are your top tips for budding children’s writers?
Write something down, anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. It will start you off and you’ll soon have ideas coming to you. If you choose a certain subject – know what you are writing about, or do a lot of research if you don’t – don’t wing it. Keep up with trends (mobile phones are always changing). This may sound silly, but close your eyes and define all the different sounds that surround you – you’ll be surprised at how much more descriptive your work becomes. Enjoy it. If you don’t and it’s too much of a task, then writing is not for you.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Mmmmm, cake. I’ve been messing with this project for a while. Twin boys find an I.D. card and when they use it in a certain elevator key-slot, it takes them underground to a weird steam punk world. There are deserts and western towns, with stainless steel horses and a shop with a tea lady who can send them to the Light & Dark… Title: Winter Code or Winter Scape – I haven’t decided yet.
Did we forget anything?
Cake… cake. I’ve a book of short stories coming out in 2020 called: The Man with the Black Shoebox and Other Strange Stories (Thunderpoint Publishing). Also, I’ve published my very first picture book in February. It was dedicated to my three-year old granddaughter Amaya. It’s called: Amaya’s Imagination – Traffic Cone Trouble (Haus of Clare). I have a manuscript with a publisher as I speak, about a boy sucked into a computer game (they seem very interested).
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea.
Seaside or countryside? Countryside (hate grit in my sandwich).
Paper books or e-books? Are you nuts? Paper books.
Cake or chocolate? Is this a trick question? Choco… no cake… no cho… no cake… no chocol… oh, I can’t – I can’t – I can’t decide.
Write or type? Both.
Poetry or prose? Prose.
Hot or cold? Hot.