Born of the Sun
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Born of the Sun by Gillian Cross
About the Author
Gillian Cross has won numerous literary prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award (now the Costa), and the Smarties Prize.
“Books have always been an important part of my life. As a child, I spent a lot of time writing stories, or acting them out with my friends. I write because I love telling stories and finding out about things. My stories don't have 'messages', but I like to write about people in difficult and dangerous situations. I'm interested in how they cope and the decisions they make.”
I was born near London, on Christmas Eve 1945. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, and books have always been an important part of my life. As a child, I spent a lot of time writing stories, or acting them out with my friends.
Then I went to Oxford, to study English, and met my husband, Martin. We got married when we were both twenty one, had a baby son, Jon, and lived in a village outside Oxford in a cottage next door to an old-fashioned bakery. I used to help the baker twice a week. Jon came too. He sat on the floor and played while I kneaded the dough.
Ever since then, I’ve had a happy time looking after my family and writing. Martin and I now have four children – Anthony was born in 1984 and Katy was born in 1985. We’ve moved a couple of times and at the moment we’re living in a beautiful village in Warwickshire. When I’m not writing, I orienteer (like everyone else in the family), play the piano (very badly) and edit the Parish Magazine.
I've done quite a lot of travelling abroad to speak about my books. I've been to Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and Mexico, among other places. Wherever I go, I like to talk to people (of course) and to look at paintings and sculptures.
Praise for Gillian Cross and her novels:
‘Genuinely moving’ Times Educational Supplement
‘A winner’ Carousel
‘Taut and beautifully written’ Mail on Sunday
‘a tour de force’ Financial Times
‘Exciting, fast-moving and brilliant.’ Lancs County Library Children’s Book of the Year Reviews
‘Packed with tension and drama’ Books for Keeps
‘Outstanding’ The Scotsman
‘Believable, emotive, captivating, interesting and very enjoyable’ In Brief
A Q & A with Gillian Cross.
It's hard to say where my ideas come from. I usually get a picture of a place or a person. Sometimes I get a tiny little scene in my mind - very short, like the trailers you see on television. There's never very much of an idea to start with, just a little snippet and a very strong feeling that it can grow into a story. Then I ask myself lots of questions about the characters, and I find out what happens by starting to write the story down. I hardly ever know the whole story before I start writing the book.
Yes, I earn quite a good amount of money from writing, but I never know how much it's going to be. Every time someone buys one of my books, some of the money (around 7 per cent) goes to me. The publishers collect up all that money and pay it over to me twice a year. And in April, I add the whole lot up and find out how much I've earned that year.
The first book I ever wrote was called Such a Nice Girl - and it was terrible. But I learned two important things from writing it. The first was that I could get to the end of a book, and the second was that I liked writing books better than almost anything else. So I went on doing it and, in due course, I wrote The Runaway, which was my first published book.
No, I never base my characters on real people - not on purpose at least. If I did I would find it very hard to make anyone in my books do anything bad - in case the real person was cross about it. And anyway, it's much more fun to make people up. But sometimes, I find I've made a character a bit like a real person by mistake.
My main hobbies are playing the piano (very badly!) and orienteering, which involves finding your way round forests with a map, and running as hard as you can. I also like swimming and gardening, though I don't have much time for those. I read lots and lots, as well.
I haven't really got a favourite book - because I have so many. I always seem to be discovering wonderful new things to read. But one book which has always been among my favourites is 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I haven't got a favourite out of my own books, I've had good fun writing all of them - but the best one is always the one I'm writing NOW.
I've got two main tips. First, tell the story as well as you can. If you get to the end and you can see things that are wrong - go back and put them right. There's no point in rewriting for the sake of it, but you're very lucky if you get everything right first time. I usually have to rewrite a book three or four times. â€¨The second tip is - have fun! If you don't have a good time while you're writing, how can you expect readers to enjoy themselves? (But that doesn't mean telling jokes all the time, of course. You can enjoy being sad or serious too.)
9. How long does it take you to write a book?
It usually takes me between five and nine months to write a book, depending on the length. In that time I rewrite it three or four times, and I've always spent quite a long time thinking about it before I start.
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