Knowledge and skills
- Reading widely
- Discussing books
- Building on others' ideas
Paul Mason, author of Sports Day on Mount Olympus, has lived all around the world and is currently writing and teaching in New Zealand. He answers our questions on behalf of your class.
When and how did you start writing?
In some ways I’ve always been a writer. Even when I was just a boy I used to spend a fair amount of my own time just making up stories. I’ve still got some of them somewhere (I must dig them out!) but it wasn’t until I became a dad and a teacher that I started writing for children and getting published.
What’s your favourite thing to write about?
The truth is… whatever I happen to be writing about at the moment.
Where do you get your ideas?
From all around, literally. I always carry a little book with me in my back pocket and I jot things down all the time. I’ve been lucky enough to have lived all around the world, and I often draw on those experiences.
What are you reading now?
I think it’s important to read the sort of stories you want to write. I’m always learning from other children’s authors. At the moment I’m reading a book called The Halfmen of O by New Zealand children’s author, Maurice Gee. It’s a great, great book.
Did you like reading when you were at school? What were your favourite books?
As a boy you couldn’t keep my head out of a book, apparently. Roald Dahl was and continues to be my favourite children’s author. Danny the Champion of the World made a big impression on me – the bond between Danny and his father. My father and I are close like that.
Where and how do you write?
I have a lovely little room downstairs in our house that looks out through the bush to the sea in the distance. Sometimes I write stretched out on the sofa with my laptop and our cat, Kipling, on my lap (like I’m doing right now). I usually set myself a goal of a certain amount of words or chapters and try to stick at it until I’ve reached that goal. I must admit I’m not one of those writers who puts in 12-hour shifts day in, day out, churning out the pages with ease. Sometimes I wish I were.
Do you enjoy reading stories to children and do you read your stories to your class?
I think all teachers would like to take some time each day to read aloud. But classes are such busy places these days that it sometimes drops off the timetable. I do read my stories to my class, though I still find it daunting. Reading a line you thought was funny when you wrote it, and then no-one laughs. Ouch!
What are you going to write next?
I’ve just started a light-hearted, adventure novel about a Yeti on a quest. Do you know how many different cultures have a Yeti-like legend? I like to think they might be real….