are a few answers to questions you may have
about Robin's work.
Where do you
get your ideas from?
of my books have begun as a series of pencil
sketches, where I develop the various characters
- though inspiration can come from just about
anywhere. Often I can be inspired by a place,
like Whitby for example. I first visited Whitby
when I was at college in Newcastle, and found
it possessed a marvellous, haunting atmosphere.
when I came to write about it some years later,
I wanted to try and include as many of the
local legends as possible. At other times
I simply start doodling in a sketch pad and
a new character will begin to emerge on the
page. That's how The Oaken Throne came about,
one night I had drawn a leprous old mole and
around him, I constructed a storyline.
you do a lot of research for your books?
I always try to find out all I can about the
subject matter in each new story and during
this early stage all sorts of new ideas can
suggest themselves. With The Deptford Mice
trilogy, I incorporated some of the local
history of Greenwich and Blackheath.
the Alchymist's Cat, I researched into the
Black Death and the fire of London, while
for the Wyrd Museum it was the Second World
War and Norse Mythology. I believe that if
you can incorporate elements of documented
history into fantasy, this will hopefully
enhance the experience for the reader and
make it more convincing.
How did you
never intended to write books at all. I used
to work as a model-maker for television programmes,
and commercials.The Deptford Mice evolved
when I was taking a break from designing a
large, furry alien and fancied drawing something
small for a change.
Dark Portal, my first book was published when
I was twenty-five. I had doodled some mouse
characters in my sketch pad just for my own
enjoyment, and a friend of mine saw them and
suggested I send them to a publisher. To my
amazement they responded very positively and
asked if there was a story to go with the
mice drawings. So I had a go, and it went
from there. I didn't realise at the time that
I would ever become a full time writer.
you won any awards?
have won one award, and been shortlisted for
quite a few others. It was "The Whitby Witches"
that won the Lancashire Libraries award, which
was wonderful, because it was actually judged
Do you work
to a deadline?
although my editors might not agree with me!
The deadline is based around how long the
book will take to write, then edited, proof
read (checked for mistakes) and printed.
The actual writing usually takes about six
months, but often the research, and developing
the idea takes a lot longer. Unfortunately
I have been known to exceed the deadline,
at which times I usually hide from the publisher
and don't answer the phone until the work
materials do you use for your illustrations?
is a huge range of materials to choose from,
but to develop a "style" or "feel" to a series,
I mostly use inks, acrylic paint, and airbrush
for the cover artwork. The inside black and
white illustrations have been pen and ink
for the Deptford Mice series, black pencil
for the Whitby series, and water-colour for
the Wyrd Museum.
Do you design
the covers of your books?
With a lot of help from the designers at
When planning the composition of the final
artwork you have to include enough room for
the title and your own name.
it comes to the back cover however you have
to leave space for the blurb and that annoying
box for the bar code. I'm
always a little sad to see how much of the
painting it hides! This was especially the
case when dozens of Hobb worshippers that
had taken a morning to complete were totally
hidden behind it on the back of The Oaken
book have you most enjoyed writing?
really enjoyed The Whitby Witches because
it was my first book with people in it, but
The Alchymist's Cat was quite a challenge
because it involved both human and animal
course I like all the books for different
reasons. The Woven Path features my old Teddy
Bear, so that was great to do, and the werling
creatures in Thorn Ogres of Hagwood made me
are some unusual and different characters
coming up in the new novel Deathscent, I'd
really like to make one of them in 3D.
My main pleasure though is in giving myself
and the reader as much variety as possible.
I'd hate to have to write about the same old
thing all the time..
Do you prefer
to write about humans or animals?
I enjoy both, but
after writing the mice books, it was particularly
nice to write about humans for a change. I
tend to write about animals more than humans,
because I think from a dramatic viewpoint,
you can place animals in more dangerous situations
than their human counterparts, and because
talking animals are more the stuff of fantasy,
it is exciting without being too frightening.
do you get your descriptive words
difficult to say, keeping a thesauraus handy
is useful but I think it helps if you can
try to "see" what it is you are writing about
in your imagination. Having said that I always
continuously go through the work as I'm writing
to change sentence structure and swap words
over until I'm happy with them. This can sometimes
take quite a long time - apologies to my editors.
Who are your
favourite authors are Lucy Boston, who writes
the Green Knowe books, and Alan Garner who
wrote The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I also
love Tolkien's books, and usually read The
Lord of the Rings every other year.
you written for adults as well as children?
far, I haven't written specifically for adults.
I am however always pleased by the number
of adults who write to me saying how they
have bought the books for their children,
and enjoyed reading them themselves.
Do you have
any tips about how to become an author?
I can advise is read as much as you can, and
make decisions as to why you liked (or didn't
like) a particular book, so that when you
actually write your own, you can criticise
also write something called a synopsis of
my books first. A synopsis is a much shorter
overview of everything that happens in the
story. That way I can work out the whole plot
so I know exactly where I want to the characters
to go before I start on the main bit of writing.
everybody writes like this, but it is essential
for me. The only other advice I can give is
to keep trying, especially at first. It can
be very discouraging if your submissions keep
being rejected by a publisher, but if your
work is what people want to read, you should
get there eventually!
2016. Robin Jarvis. All rights reserved