In the first of a new series of in-depth interviews with published children’s authors, Geoff Barker discusses the difficulties and the joys of the writing process with Kathryn Evans.

How did the seed of your novel More of Me emerge?

I was looking at pictures of my children, because my daughter is now grown up, and she’d gone off to university – and I was missing the baby that she was. If you like, I was mourning the baby that she was, and the toddler and the young child, and the twelve-year-old, although of course I adore her as she is now. All those previous versions of her I really missed, and I started to think about myself as a child. I had quite a difficult upbringing: my mum died when I was very young, my dad remarried and I didn’t get on with my step-mum at the time. Growing up, things were not easy. In the book, Six is pretty unhappy: and that six-year-old was me. When I look back, it doesn’t feel like it was me. I know it is – but it feels like a different version. And that was literally it. What if those previous versions of yourself still existed? So it started with my daughter going off to university, and it ended with this crazy story!

What’s so special about writing for you personally?

That’s changed over the years. I trained as an actor. But I fell in love with a farmer and if you want to be an actor you really need to be prepared to travel, earn not very much money, go wherever the jobs are and be away for quite a long time, and it’s really unsociable hours. We set up a smallholding and it needed both of us to run it, so acting went on hold. But that yearning for me – to create character – never went away. I’ve always written, always dabbled in writing, ever since I was a tiny child, but the need to create character and tell stories like I did on the stage remained: it’s kind of a performance. And certainly when I’m creating characters in stories, I act them out: I might play a part to the mirror; more often than not, though, I’ll be talking to my dog. And I will have conversations. To see me, you would think that I had absolutely lost it. Particularly the conversations in More of Me between Teva and Fifteen: I acted out both sides because that for me is the best way of hearing how a character is working. So I think writing became a substitute for acting – and then it became an addiction.

What are you most proud of? 

The reason I wrote the More of Me book – obviously I wanted to be published – was because I thought it might matter to someone who was struggling with identity issues. The fact that I have quite a lot of people contacting me for very different reasons spoke to me. That is the thing that I’m most proud of: people picking up that book and connecting with it. Also there was a young girl in my village, whose mum had bought the book, and she’d had a bit of a rough time at school. She sent me a message and said she’d only read my book because her mum had bought it and she felt guilty. But having picked it up, she couldn’t put it down. She took it to school, she’d had a really bad day, but she said she didn’t care because she could read about Teva. She said: ‘I was in her world’. She said that I’d made her want to read again. There’s nothing better for a writer than hearing that.

Header image: New York Zoological Society

This is an extract from the in-depth interview with Kathryn published on Geoff’s website. Find the answers to these question in the full-length article:
  • Did Kathryn actually enjoyed writing her first novel More of Me?
  • How do you follow a brilliant debut that’s been hugely successful?
  • What advice did SCBWI BI Co-Regional Advisor Natascha Biebow give to Kathryn early in her writing career?
  • What’s the hardest thing for Kathryn as a writer?
Click here to read the fascinating FULL INTERVIEW with Kathryn Evans

Geoff Barker thanks the generosity of those authors who have given their time to eloquently express their thoughts about their work and to provide fascinating insights into the creative experience of writing for this series. 

Geoff Barker may have written over 50 published non-fiction titles, but what he really loves to do is to create children’s stories... once upon a time for his long-suffering kids, but now for anyone who thinks quirky animal stories are essential for a long and happy life. He is currently working on Booty and the Beasts, a comic caper for which he received a Mentorship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2017.

Kathryn Evans is the award-winning author of More of Me. Her most recent success is winning the SCBWI Crystal Kite for UK and Ireland in May 2017. As well as writing YA, she fences competitively, bellydances for fun and also runs a strawberry farm with her husband. Somehow, she also finds time to volunteer as Co-Regional Advisor for the SCBWI British Isles.
Links to websites:
Kathryn Evans:
Usborne Publishing:

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