Interview with Anne Fine
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Just William books by Richmal Crompton were my favourites when I was between eight and 12. I lived in their imaginary world almost more than I lived in my own, and William became my imaginary brother.
When you were growing up did you have books in your home?
Yes, my grandfather and my father were great readers. There were five of us children (the last three were triplets) and my parents didn’t have much money so they bought furniture from auctions. And if you bought a bookcase, it came with the books! So we had a wide selection of strange books. My mother also gave me a lot of freedom, so I would often go to the library near our house.
Was there someone who got you interested in writing?
We did a lot creative writing at school. We were sat down to write a story, in quiet, at least twice a week. They don’t do creative writing in school now. It is an absolute tragedy.
What made you want to write when you were starting out?
I was perfectly happy as a reader but one day, I was at home with my baby and I couldn’t get to the library. I was bored, so I sat down and started to write a book.
Do you find writing easy?
No. I sit there, like everybody else, chewing over the pencil and getting stuck and thinking, ‘How am I going to get out of this?’ Sometimes it comes in floods and then I go back and tinker with it for six weeks. It is satisfying and absorbing, but not easy.
What makes you write now?
The germ of the book comes and then I don’t have any choice – I am not satisfied until it is finished!
How do you write? Do you have a daily routine?
It’s almost impossible to have a routine because children’s authors are seen as an educational resource, so there is quite a lot we have to do. And there is my family, so I cannot be precious and say I must sit down at my desk at nine but I do work as often as I can, which is almost every day. I don’t distinguish between the week and weekends and I work much better in the morning.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Firstly, Muriel Spark said you should write a book as if no one you know will ever read it. Secondly, you should never share your book with your partner. They are the worst people to advise you. And finally, Philip Larkin said, “Write the book you would most like to read, that no one else has written.”