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March 22, 2011

Question and Answers with Alex Scarrow, author of YA series, TimeRiders

Posted in: Children's Books, General, Writing for Children

So we’re very lucky to have here today (virtually of course) Alex Scarrow, author of the TimeRiders series (TimeRiders (Book 1), TimeRiders: Day of the Predator (Book 2) and TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code (Book 3)). First I must thank him for taking the time to stop by my blog and answer my questions.  So now, let’s jump in.

Question: How did you “break-into” writing?  Were you still working your day job?  And you were writing and submitting for how long before you got a contract?

Alex’s Reply: I ‘broke into’ screenwriting before novel writing. I say ‘broke into’…I never sold a film script, but I got a couple of them optioned. Which got me some agency representation from a small boutique agency. Which in turn I used as leverage when I contacted a literary agency. It took me about nine months to nail a deal with an agent, and after that my manuscript was being shopped around for about nine months before I got my first book deal.

It was hard then (7 years ago). I’d say it’s even harder now! There’s no real trick to it really. Just common sense. If you buy yourself a copy of the ‘Writers And Artists Yearbook’ and go to the section listing literary agents. Each listing shows the clients/authors they represent. You start with agencies that rep’ writers you consider yourself most similar too. The first point of contact is usually the ‘email query’. Just make sure you write a crisp, compelling and professional query. The compelling bit is sually the tricky bit of course. That’s down to how original/strong your book is.

Question: So what was your first novel published then?  One of the adult ones, right?  Not TimeRiders?

Alex’s Reply: My first book published in UK was A Thousand Suns in 2005 by Orion

Question:  You’ve written a lot of successful novels and YA novels between 2005 and now.  Can you tell me what a typical writing day is like for you?

Alex’s Reply: Up at seven thirty with my wife and son. The usual routine getting ready, breakfast, then we’re all out of the door before nine. I usually walk about three and a half miles into town to a cafe I normally work in, plug in my laptop, buy a coffee and a muffin and work until midday. Usually that gives me about 1200 words then I walk back home. I’m home by one, and the afternoon is spent dealing with emails and boring routine stuff. My son and wife usually come in at about three-thirty. After dinner, I tend to mess about on the internet for a while, and after my son’s gone to bed at about ten in the evening I’ll go over my day’s work, tidying it up and usually adding about another 2-300 words. Then to bed, where I read until I’m unconscious :-)

Question: Now, you are published both in the U.K. and also in the United States. Tell me how you made that happen?

Alex’s Reply: My first publishing deal was with Orion. Then I started writing YA fiction, and got a seperate deal with Puffin. It’s their foreign rights team that landed a deal with Walker US.

Question: So what inspired you to write the YA novels? (Time Riders Book Cover

Alex’s Reply: I wanted to write for YA as well as for adults, and TimeRiders was the idea from my ‘little black book’ that best suited that market place.

Question: And what are the differences between writing for adults and YA?

Alex’s Reply: Apart from losing the profanity, really its pretty much the same!

Question: You do school visits? Is this something that comes very naturally to you? Or did you have to push yourself to face a crowd of, gasp, adolescents.

Alex’s Reply: I visit schools in the UK all the time, and love it! I do an hour long talk about the TimeRiders Series, how I got into writing, I also do a workshop on how to structure novels and generate new ideas. I really get a buzz out of doing school visits…it’s something I’m comfortable doing. I know a lot of authors hate this side of the business.

Question: Well, it’s been great Q&A’ing with you Alex. In case my readers are unfamiliar with your work, they can follow the Amazon book cover links and read excerpts from your books right now. Where else can they find more information about TimeRiders and your writing?

Alex’s Reply: Timeriders website uk - www.time-riders.co.uk and the TimeRiders website US - http://timeridersbooks.com/

Me: I hope TimeRiders does well on both sides of the Atlantic!

Alex’s Reply: Thank you, Anne. Always a pleasure to chat with prominant book bloggers. You guys do a great job I think in keeping the idea of The Book alive! Great blog, by the way. I’ve just been trawling through a few pages. Think I’ll be bookmarking you!

Me: Thanks for the compliment and again, your time answering my questions!

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