How did/do you manage the demands of (young) children and writing and did this evolve as your boys became older? You assume that when your children enter school you will have a lot more time, but that often doesn't happen. When your children were in pre-school did you have a child care arrangement or family close by? Alternatively did you only write in the evenings?
I chose to write picture books as I did not have time for long complex plots. I wrote in snatched moments mostly, although my mother did take the boys at points, or at least one or two of them which made a huge difference. Evenings and nap times were the best times in the pre-school days, then there was a phase, like most people, where I had school and pre-school children which is a very bitty stage as your have the school run but not the freedom associated with it. If I tried to write in naps, the problem was that I often had to abandon the writing at a critical stage when the children woke up, but I do think mothers get used to doing things piecemeal. And those stages pass too quickly and here I am with teenage children.
What is your schedule like now that you are published? Is it easier? Perhaps being published only gives you a different set of obstacles? There is a pressure to keep performing well and meeting deadlines as it is such a privilege to be published, especially in these times of economic difficulties and book-buying habits are changing.
My schedule is still based round family life, and with older children weekends and holidays can be quite useful for writing as they tend to plan lots of their own activities now, or go away for a whole weekend with Duke of Edinburgh events and so on. I love the fact that if I work across a weekend, I can take it easier at other times. With writing, sometimes you have to write when the ideas come. If I get ideas and can;t get to my computer, then I jot down notes.
Ok, how about guilt? Most mothers suffer from this. Did you have any guilt about the time you spent writing? It seems to be a common feeling amongst female writers that they love their time spent writing so much that it makes them feel bad for their family. Do you think male writers feel guilt?
I possibly felt guilty if I snuck off to finish a line while they were playing, or if I let them watch a DVD so I could check my e-mails, but on the whole, I feel they have benefited from my career in terms of provision for them, exciting visits to festivals and access to lots of books. The flexibility of my career has meant that I have never missed anything important for them through business. But I should stress that authors of complex full length novels really do need a better routine than I have described here, or the plot would suffer. I'm not sure about male authors...I would guess that some prefer to focus on and finish one job at a time, so the routine I've had of bits and pieces of writing, cooking and childcare might not suit some.
Briefly describe your journey as a writer before and after children. This would be interesting to any readers as I understand you initially published Princess Poppy yourself?
I always wanted to be a writer and always wrote stories, but it was a big burst of ambition which came from wanting to stay at home with the children, yet be creative and provide for them, which led to Princess Poppy. I made ten books and tried them in local shops, then WHSmith ordered 20,000 and that was the day I knew it was all going to be okay. Having children has made me make better use of my time and plan well. I also feel that the content of my books is relevant because of my mothering.
What is in the pipeline for you?
I am working on a series for Usborne called Angel Academy, about a training school for young angels!
And my new digital series SUPERFAIRIES can be found at www.magictown.com
My main website is www.princesspoppy.com
Finally, can you give one piece of advice on any aspect of writing that you think would be helpful to others.