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Last Updated: Thursday January 19 2006 17:23 GMT

Authors on the spot: Steve Voake

Steve Voake
Steve Voake is the author of The Dreamwalker's Child and The Web of Fire - both based around a world of giant insects.

Before being a full-time author of children's books he was a headmaster of a primary school in Somerset.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
My favourite book as a child was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I loved Tom's friendship with Huckleberry Finn and all the characters were so well written that I really felt I was living alongside them.

It was a book I would return to again and again.

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
I tried writing my first book when I was about thirteen. It was about two American detectives driving about in fast cars, catching criminals and eating pizza.

It was a straight copy of all the American detective shows I had watched on TV and it wasn't very good. But I filled several exercise books before I gave up and I remember having good fun doing it.

It was another twenty-five years before I tried writing another one!

Any tips for kids who want to get started as an aspiring author?
The best advice I would give to anyone who wants to become a writer is to keep a diary.

If you write a little bit every day about what you have seen or done, about things that make you laugh and things that make you sad, or little snatches of conversations that you have heard, you will soon find that you begin to develop your own style.

It will also be fascinating for you to look back on when you are older!

What makes books so special?
I think books are a very special way of telling stories, because unlike films or TV, everyone creates their own unique picture of the world they read about.

It's wonderful for the author too, to think that there are so many different versions of the same story floating around in people's heads!

How do you get inspiration for your writing?
Like most writers, I get my inspiration for stories from all over the place - it might be something that someone says, or something I read about in the newspaper.

In the case of The Dreamwalker's Child, it was being bitten by a horsefly that gave me the idea for pilots flying around in insects like fighter jets.

If you look at The Web of Fire you will see that there is a picture of some fierce insects called Robber Flies on the front cover. I was on holiday when I saw one of these attack a wasp as it flew past me and that gave me an idea for part of the book.

So keep your eyes open - you never know what you'll see next!