Here's the interview, blog friends, I hope you enjoy it!
When did you find out you wanted to be a writer?
Beth Webb: I was about 3. I couldn't read or write, but I loved making 'books' with light bulb packets (with a ballet dancer on) cut up to open like a book, and folded pieces of paper inside, scribbled on. I remember being very frustrated that I couldn't make the writing as black as in a proper book.
What was your first job ever?
Beth Webb: I think I was a mother's help. I was a disaster. I got shouted at because i didn't know how to use an upright vacuum cleaner. (My mum had a cylinder one). I was 14.
Were you working full time when you began to seriously write and finish a novel?
Beth Webb: Yes, I was illustrating books for adults with learning diabilites for St George's Hospital Medical School. I was also a full time mum of four. Don't ask me how I did it all - I have no idea.
What was your first story ever written?
BW: Hummm... I can't really remember. When I was a teenager, there weren't many books for young adults, so I wrote my own episodes of 'Tha Man from UNCLE' (with me playing opposite David McCullum (Now 'Ducky' in NCIS), of course! My first published piece was when I was 15, I interviewed my fav rock group and sent it into a pop magasine.
Do you ever get a writer’s block? If you do, how do you get rid of it and carry on writing?
BW: Rarely. More like fatigue when I just feel too numb to keep going. For writer's block I go for a long walk, or blow lots of bubbles. One BIG rule with WB is NEVER to think, just chill and daydream. Lots of Mars Ice Cream helps (but makes me fat!). Another thing I do is to go to the book shop of library and get out LOTS of books and read for about a week - not to 'nick' ideas, but to refresh the brain and get back into gear.
How long does it take for you to finish the first draft?
BW: If it's 'flowing,' I can do a draft of a 60,000 word book in 6 weeks. If I'm struggling, a couple of years.
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far as a writer?
BW: It's always the book I'm currently working on - so it's got to be Wave Hunter, out in May or June this year. After that it'll be something else. Probably Bk 4 of the Star Dancer seires - Stone Keeper.
Who are the authors who inspire you?
BW: Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula le Guin, Katherine Langrish, Jenny Nimmo, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, Neil Gaiman. I could go on for ever.
What made you write for children and not adults?
BW: I do write for adults, but haven't seriously tried to publish much. I love writing for children and young adults because the stories are faster, more to the point and less self-consciously 'literary'. Basically kids books are more fun both to read and to write.
Do you write full time now? If not, do you have a day job? Would you like to tell us about it?
BW: I write almost full time. I also teach creative writing, mostly at local schools or Kilve Court http://www.kilvecourt.org/enrcourse.asp. When I'm not doing that, I'm helping my old dad.
Do you have a special place where you write? Does it have to be really quiet or do you prefer some music?
BW: I usually write in my study, where I'm sitting right now. I have a lovely big desk and a gentle AppleMac (my dearest friend, probably). I have to have absolute silence because music has rythyms that might spoil the rythyms of the words I'm trying to write. I believe that even prose has to be written rythmycally, like poetry.
BW: Story ideas have no manners, they pop up everywhere and all the time, crawling out of life's nooks and crannies. I just scrawl them down in a notebook. Some are more persistant than others. Those are the ones that tend to get written.
I also often use ancient myths and legends to give my stories structure. Eg, many of the stories Tegen tells and refers to (eg the one about the boar with the comb between his ears) comes from a wonderful collection of Welsh stories called the Mabinogion.
These sorts of tales are also are the nearest one can get to original Celtic storytelling art, so by referencing them, I hope to add real authentic flavour to my work.
As to the characters, they are rarely real-life people, I can only think of one actual incidence, the others tend to evolve from experiences and people I have known. For example, my sister and I were bullied relentlessly by 'Ma Bennett', an awful teacher at school. From her, I learned how to fear fierce old women. That fear I put into Tegen's experience of Derowen, but 'Derowen' isn't 'Ma Bennett' as such.
What advice would you give to writers aspiring to get published out there?
BW: You've got to really, really want to be published. It's a nasty, backbiting, tough world, but also loads of fun and thrilling. A bit like taming and riding a rather bad-tempered dragon, I'd guess. Also, It's important to think about why you want to be published? Is it the cudos, or just because you HAVE to tell stories? There are other ways of telling stories than being mainstream published that are less stressful, and maybe more effective (see my link to my Guardian blog - on 'Not Being Published' on my website www.bethwebb.co.uk
Anything else you’d like to add?
BW: Can I have a cup of tea now please?
Len: Ooops, sorry, did I really forget to offer you a drink? My apologies. Let me get you a cup of tea....
Please visit Beth's website to find out more about her books! www.bethwebb.co.uk .