Interview with Jacqueline Wilson
How old were you when your first book you wrote was published?
I was writing stories throughout my childhood, and my first short story was published when I was 17. But I was 22 before I got a book published.
How did you first become interested in writing? Did any author or teacher inspire you?
I loved books, I liked pictures, and it evolved from there. No, at my primary school, they made a fuss of me, I was chosen to read my stories aloud. At secondary school, stories were made to be more formal, so I had lots of corrections. So I feel if they read any of my books now I’d still get full of red marks! Do it the school way at school and your own way at home.
How long have you been writing books? And what is your favourite book you have written?
I never can decide, I think it’s possibly The Illustrated Mum, it’s probably the saddest of my stories, but it came almost how I wanted it to be. Each time I start a book, I want it to be this and that and it hardly ever does. I’ve written over 80 books now.
How do you come up with all your ideas?
I think it’s a bit like asking you, where you get your dreams from, you don’t exactly know, do you? Dreams are distorted and you have no idea where they came from. I don’t know what’s going to come next! I came up for the name of Tracy Beaker in my bath. I knew I wanted her to be called Tracy and be a feisty girl but I couldn’t think of the right surname for her. In my bath, I came up with Tracy Toilet, Tracy Bath and lots more and then I was washing my hair and I pulled up this beaker to wash my hair down with, and that’s when it came to me “Tracy Beaker”.
Did you ever think your books would become a TV series?
No I didn’t. For years and years, I got letters for children saying why don’t you make such and such a TV Show? I was thrilled to bits with Tracy Beaker. I met a lovely woman called Sue, who held on to that idea for years and I don’t know how anyone thought it would be that big. I do like to visit the set, I don’t write the script as there’s too many and it wouldn’t be possible. They’ve written it just the way I would have though!
How long does it take to write a book?
It takes too long! Children read them in 3 days and think it takes that long to write it – I wish it did. I write little bits on the train, and here and there. I try to write 500 words a day, then when it’s finished I type it up, it can take as long as 6 months. I like to get two books written a year.
Did you ever imagine becoming the Children’s Laureate?
I knew I was short-listed, I felt very honoured and excited, I take it very seriously. We’ve had 3 really great ones who’ve worked so hard, and I thought what can I do? Then I thought I can talk to lots of children, talk to lots of adults too. So many children write to me about author projects I thought it would be lovely to have a book project with about 50 different authors. Lucky pens, photos of what we were like as children etc. I was brimming over with ideas and I hope they come to fruition.
How do you know pre-teens’ emotions so well?
I do have a vivid memory about what it’s like to be young. I pretend to be my characters and write it down.