Darren Shan is the author of many horror books for kids.
His dark tales include Cirque Du Freak and Lord Loss.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read it many times and always found something new to excite me.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Five or six years old!! I used to daydream about being all sorts of things at that time, but being a writer was what I wanted more than anything else.
Any tips for kids who want to get started as an aspiring author?
Just keep writing!!! There really aren't any secret formulas or shortcuts. The more you practise, the more you learn and the better you get. Write the sort of stories you'd like to read, and keep looking for ways to improve. If you stick with it, you WILL succeed. It won't happen overnight, but the struggle and long period of time involved is largely what makes it so enjoyable and rewarding in the end!
What makes books so special?
They're personal. At the cinema, museum, arcade or a concert, you're part of a crowd. Reading's something you always do alone. You're the one who decides what the characters look like, and how elaborate or simple the settings are.
You can set your own pace and read as much or as little as you like, spreading a good book out or devouring it all in one quick go. And there are no limits - a good book will spark off as many ideas and stories as your imagination is capable of processing.
How do you get your inspiration for your writing?
I just think about stories a lot. Ideas aren't something you can control, and, in all honesty, they're not the most important part of the process. I had loads of great ideas for books when I was a kid, but of course I wasn't able to turn them into novels because I lacked the experience.
My advice is to work hard at improving your writing, at learning to plot, to develop characters, to handle dialogue, to pace a story strongly. The ideas will come by themselves. The trick is to be prepared to make the most of them when they come!!!