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'When a child doesn't like something they let you know'

16 December 2020

‘Just because you can write a full-length grownup novel there's no guarantee that you can transpose that ability to a children's book. In the end it was a collaborative performance both with (illustrator) Daniela Terrazzini and my children: I would read parts of the story to them and they gave instant and very direct feedback. They were very honest and sometimes pretty brutal. When a child doesn't like something they let you know - often by getting up and walking away...

Writing is a process. Obviously prizes are lovely to get, that knowledge that somebody, a reader or a panel or a child in a library, has responded to your work. But I think after that you just had to forget them. You have to keep doing good work.'

Maggie O'Farrell on her first children's book, Where Snow Angels Go. She is also the author of Hamnet, After You'd Gone, The Hand That first Held Mine, The Distance Between Us and four other novels, as well as a memoir, I am, I am, I am, in the Observer.