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Last Updated: Friday March 03 2006 14:04 GMT

Authors on the spot: Justin Richards

Justin Richards
Justin Richards is the author of over 20 novels and is best know for his series of children's books The Invisible Detective and as Creative Director of the BBC's hugely popular Doctor Who books.

His latest book is The Death Collector is published on 2 March.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I always loved mysteries so Enid Blyton's The Famous Five were favourites of mine.

I enjoyed her stories about the Five Find-Outers and Dog even more - the first of those is The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage. They all start with The Mystery of┐ I loved them.

I suppose my absolute favourite though was Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks - which is quite a title! It came out again later as just plain: Doctor Who and the Daleks.

The book was written by David Whitaker from the original scripts of the very first Dalek story on Doctor Who, which was by Terry Nation. Both hugely talented writers who knew all about adventure and thrills!

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
I've always been a writer - scribbling stories and telling jokes. Jokes are a sort of short story really - they need a structure, a beginning, a middle and an end.

I don't think I really believed that it was possible to be a writer as a job and career until I was quite old. But it's something I've always done.

Any tips for kids who want to get started as an aspiring author?
Writing is a craft that you need to work at and practice. It's like training for a sport - the more you do it, the better you get.

There are two things you really have to do. First, you have to write a lot - that's the training. Try to write something every day - it doesn't have to be pages of a huge novel. It could be a letter, an email, whatever.

Keep a diary. Just writing every day helps you to know what works and what doesn't, to develop your own style, to finds out about words and how they work.

The second thing you need to do is to read a lot - see what other people are writing. Don't analyse it in detail, but pay attention to the words and the story. The more you read, the more you will come to understand what works and what doesn't, how books and stories are put together.

And above all, enjoy it. If you really enjoy it, you'll get better and better...

What makes books so special?
Books can do anything. There's just you and the author's ideas and your own imagination. There's no limit to what books can do - what you can learn from them, or where you can go in them!

How do you get inspiration for your writing?
Inspiration is all around us - there are ideas everywhere. Again, having ideas for stories is something you can practice.

Next time you see something odd, wonder what's going on and why it's happening - or even something very ordinary - ask yourself what the story is behind it...

A man getting on a bus - but is he escaping from somewhere, or off to a secret meeting, or an alien disguised as a human being? Who is he? What's he doing? Where is he going?

What's his story?

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