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Last Updated: Wednesday August 16 2006 15:08 GMT

Authors on the spot: Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori
Debi Gliori is the author and illustrator of many children's books.

Pure Dead Magic was her first novel and she has since written Deep Fear, Deep Trouble and Deep Water, among many others.

She lives near Edinburgh in Scotland.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Tough question. My answer today really depends on how I feel. I loved so many books, and still do, but one's loyalties change as time goes by.

I think I have to give you three answers, because I cannot choose between these books.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. (I used to wish that by some happy accident I could be adopted by the Durrells.)
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (my first taste of the bittersweet nature of love lost and found.)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graeme (I identified with Mole whilst secretly wishing I had been born into the life of Mr Toad.)

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

About 10, but I kept very quiet about wanting to be a writer so that nobody could tell me that it was about as likely as growing my own pair of wings.

Any tips for kids who want to get started as aspiring authors?

My first tip is to point out that nobody wants to be an aspiring author. We all want to be published authors.

My second tip is to remind you to read and read and read.

My third tip is to advise you that when you're not reading you should listen to what is going on around you. And now I can almost hear you sigh, as if to say 'Is that it?'.

I'm afraid there are no magical tips. There is no secret. Writing is all about telling stories as well as you can.

In order to do this, you need to read how other people tell stories. You need to fill your head with so many stories that you almost burst with the desire to let some of those stories out.

And you need to get enough sleep to allow all those stories you have read and all those things you have listened to mix and mingle and miraculously recombine into your very own and unique story.

What makes books so special?

Books are a portable portal into other worlds.

Books are time machines, transporting us out of our own lives into other times and other places.

Books are mind reading devices; they allow us free access to the thoughts and dreams of people we have never met.

Lastly, unlike computers or handheld personal digital whatchamacallits or even mobile phones, you can read a book in the bath without the terror of what would happen if you dropped it.

How do you get inspiration for your writing?

This is very hard to explain, but it's almost as if I have to make myself very still and wakeful inside to catch a passing idea.

It's a dream-state, but also a very alert state, almost as if I am trying to lull the passing idea into thinking that I'm asleep, or not paying it too much attention, and it, the idea, comes closer and closer to where I am lying, silently waiting. Ready to pounce.

No ideas are harmed in the making of my books, by the way. All I do with my best ideas is run with them, fast as I can, taking notes and occasionally suggesting a left hand turn rather than the right hand one which might have taken us both over a precipice.

There we go, the idea and I - kicking up a cloud of dust, scattering leaves, sending little avalanches of pebbles and scree tumbling back down to the earth as we climb ever upwards, dancing up there on the skyline.

This form of inspiration, of course, would be deeply embarrassing to my family if I ever happen to uncover an idea in the middle of Tesco's, but we'll cross that particular bridge when we come to it!

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