School fete - Miriam Moss

Miriam Moss, the Lewes-resident children’s picture-book writer, is opening Southover School’s annual Fete. Curious about the process of writing childrens’ books, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of interviewing her about her metier. “Can’t you just dream them up and write them a day?” I ask her, sitting at a table near her back-garden writing shed on a glorious summer afternoon. It seems not. “Try writing a poem,” she says. “Picture books have to be carefully sculpted. There is no space for mistakes; there can be no redundant words. They also have to appeal to all age groups of the community: both the teller and the child. And they have to entertain. A child will just wander off if they are bored.” So does she just dream them up? “They evolve out of things that happen to me,” she says. Then I write the story out in longhand, and revise it many times on the computer. It can take months, or years. Some are wacky, others include issues like coping with separation or fear, but they're all ultimately reassuring. ” She's had almost 30 published in the last ten years”

She tells me much more than I can put in this space, about the important relationship between text and illustration, her writing workshops and school visits, and the insidious effect of Amazon on royalties. But does she read her stories out loud to test them? “I sit in my shed, talking to myself all day… with the windows closed,” she laughs, and I’m not sure if she’s joking. AL

Miriam Moss: writing children’s books is no kids’ stuff

Southover School, Potters Lane, Lewes
When? 12-3pm
How Much? 50p (free for under 12’s)
Miriam Moss
(w) Website