Scoop had the opportunity to interview acclaimed author and Costa winner, Hilary McKay. She is one of Britain’s best-loved children’s authors of popular titles such as The Time of Green Magic and Skylarks’ War.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t think there was a particular time. Being a writer evolved from being a reader. The possibility was always there.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I have been asked that question so often, and there really isn’t a true answer. I loved so many: Joan Aiken, Tolkein, Ursula le Guin were favourite writers. AA Milne and Beatrix Potter in earlier years.
Do any of the ideas for your books come from your own childhood?
No. Not consciously, but I suppose unconsciously the experience of growing up in a family of four girls started me off with my first book, The Exiles.
How long does it take you to complete a book?
Ages, far too long. I am so slow. Never less than a year, and often two years.
What is the most challenging part of being an author?
The first blank page, without doubt. It never gets easier, or less blank, no matter how many books I’ve written before.
When did you write your first book?
More than thirty years ago, while I was working as a chemist.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing?
Day to day, I love natural history and I live deep in the countryside, so there’s lots of it about. And I like travelling and seeing new places.
What is one of your favourite books and why?
I have two favourite books (at the moment). One is The Tailor of Gloucester. The other is The Worst Journey in the World. (Apsley Cherry Garrard). They are both perfect, in their way.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing books?
What a small world it is! Everyone is connected in children’s literature in the UK.
Are you working on any new books now?
Yes, I am working on a sequel to The Skylarks’ War. I am always working on a new book, there has never been a gap.