Tuesday, 12 July 2011

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS WITH...ANGIE SAGE


Angie began as an illustrator of children’s books and slowly moved into writing books for toddlers. Then she allowed herself to write what had been in her head for years: Septimus Heap. She is now on the last book of the series and has a film in the offing with Warner Brothers.


Writing the Septimus Heap books has changed my life by...
... allowing me to write full time, which I had wanted to do for quite a while. Also it has been great to find that I can create something that people feel an emotional attachment to. In my previous working life as an illustrator I felt I never quite managed to do that. And of course feeling financially secure has made a big difference!

I write for children because...
...that’s just how it happened. Because I was illustrating children’s books it was a natural progression. When I have time I want to go back and finish my ‘grown-up’ novel, but that is a bit of a luxury at the moment.

As a child I read...
...voraciously. My mother got quite worried, first about my eyes “it’s not good for you, all that small print” and later about my lack of social life, “why don’t you get out more instead of always having your head in a book.” Hey ho. Up to the age of about eleven I read Enid Blyton, E. Nesbit, Rosemary Sutcliffe, all the classic children’s stuff with the exception of Swallows and Amazons which I somehow missed. After that I graduated to grown-up stuff, which I sometimes found scary.

Age-banding is...
...not a great idea. Books appeal to different ages for all kinds of reasons, not just age. Why be proscriptive? There’s enough to put children off from reading without adding an age range too, so that slower readers feel embarrassed about reading ‘too young’.

The hardest thing about writing is...
...writing! I do find plot the most difficult thing within that, whereas writing characters is what comes most easily.

My underlying themes are...
Isn’t that something the author is not meant to realise? At a guess I’d say that in the Septimus series is about putting back together things that have been broken and pulled apart. Creating a whole once more.

Longhand first or straight to computer?
Computer. I don’t think I could write a book without a computer, I change so much stuff much as I go along. I also don’t think well in longhand. The brain-keyboard connection is what works for me.

First drafts are...
...important to get right. Editing something that has not worked first time is a total nightmare. I try and get everything right (ish) as I go along. I think that is one of the great advantages of using a computer as in reality the first draft is probably the sixth or seventh. My drafts don’t change much at all, ideally the second draft is just about refining language, cutting repetition, making sure I’ve not shot myself in the foot with the timing- that kind of thing.

I wouldn't have got this far without...
...my editor at HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen. My first book, MAGYK, needed a lot of editing and I learnt so much from Katherine.

I'm most inspired by…
AARGH Why does this inspiration question really bug me? I dunno. I think it’s because it implies that writing is some idiot-savant thing you don’t have to work at or even think about. Just wait for the fairy dust of Inspiration to settle over you and write down what it tells you to. I always want to say, what do you mean by inspiration. What … do… you … mean? There, I have had my rant and I feel much better now, thank you.

My shameful writing secret is
I don’t plan much at all.

The most exciting thing about writing is
...when you write something really funny. So funny that you laugh at it days later.

The three writers I'd invite to dinner are...
Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh and … well, it has to be William Shakespeare. I reckon he’s the only person they’d listen to. And I’d love to hear about Elizabethan society.

If I were to try writing in another genre it would be...
Please file Genre under the AARGH section – see Inspiration.

The best thing about being a published author is...
...people take you more seriously. And lots more people read your books. And you get paid.

A writer should never...
...get complacent.

Favourite writing snack...
Chocolate raisins.

If I could pass on any tip it would be...
Ask what people think about what you’ve written and listen to it. Do not be offended by what they say, even if you think they are sadly mistaken and wouldn’t know a work of genius if it hit them on the head. They are your readers.

If I could go back and do it all again I would...
...enjoy my early success with MAGYK more and not get so worried about writing all the other books.

When I'm stuck for ideas I …
...talk to my husband, Rhodri, who writes too, about the problem. I get ideas when I say things out loud.

Booker prize or Hollywood film?
Both, please! But for different books. Hollywood film for Septimus (and it’s looking like it might well happen...) Booker for my novel-in-waiting. If that’s ok. Thanks.

5 comments:

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thank you so much, Angie, for visiting us at Strictly. :) And all the very best with the film and the adult novel.
Susiex

Fionnuala said...

Angie, thanks so much for taking the time out to be here on SW. I loved this post and so much of it resonates at the moment. As someone who is facing a plot hole the size of Venus in the WIP, I too wish I could ignore it and just write all day about the characters! I also find if I talk out loud to myself, I can sometimes come up with the answers... Only other writers get the fact that we all have to talk to our selves!
Very best of luck with the film -how hugely exciting. F

Debs Riccio said...

Fab post, Angie, and I'm thoroughly heartened by your non-edit-editing - I've always found I can't move on unless the last bit's just right, so, like you say, the first draft is probably more like the 4/5th anyway... I can't stand not getting it right first time.
Another ARGGH moment - 'so you're going to be the next JK Rowling then?'.... and congrats on the movie deal, of course!

Roderic Vincent said...

Thanks for your answers, Angie. Inspiring post . . . Aaargh! I mean encouraging.

Caroline Green said...

Hardest thing about writing...yup, I hear you on that one!

Thanks so much for coming over to Strictly today Angie. So exciting about the Hollywood deal!