Top tips from Ross Montgomery for children who are authors in the making…
What’s your top tip for budding young authors?
There's only one writing tip that's always true, and that is: write, write, and write some more! Write about things you like and write about things you think other people might like. Write in different styles. Write a series with the same character and then write a poem. Most of the tips you'll ever need you can learn just by doing it yourself - so long as you keep going, you'll work out everything that's important to you as a writer.
What was your absolute favourite book as a child?
It was called GING GANG GOOLIE, IT'S AN ALIEN. It was about a group of boy scouts who discover an alien on a camping trip, and feed him sausages. It was really funny, and had sections that were like comics so it broke in and out of being a regular "book". I may be the only person on Earth who remembers it - but I've never forgotten it. That's the power of books.
If you could live as a character from one of your books, who would you be and why?
Fi from Perijee & Me. She's a girl who lives on the road and is probably one of the best confidence tricksters who ever lived. She's an expert in picking pockets, stealing cows, breaking into ice cream vans and escaping on speedboats. I'm not very good at any of those things.
What book inspired you to start writing?
I remember looking at the Terry Pratchett Discworld books in my local library - he'd written so many that they filled up a whole shelf. They were almost double the length of the sort of books I read - I found them really intimidating, and could never imagine reading them. But the front covers were so detailed and the blurbs on the back sounded so interesting that I was intrigued. I noticed one of them was much shorter - it was called Eric. So I read it, and I was blown away. I couldn't believe that books could do what he was doing. I'd always loved writing stories, but that was the first moment I went, "This is it - this is what I want to do".
Did you spend most of your time in detention or getting gold stars at school?
I spent my time at primary school almost weighed down with gold stars, and then most of my time in secondary school in detention. It wasn't because I was badly behaved - just lazy. There was one teacher who came up with really inventive punishments. He caught me drawing cartoons in one lesson, so he made me come in at the end of the day and draw cartoons on my own for an hour and a half. It turns out that stops being fun after about ten minutes.
If you had a super power what would it be and why?
To instantly make a glass of water appear in my hand at will. It's useful, and I could always stay hydrated. Plus, it would totally mess with peoples' heads - "Wait, whaaaat, where did that glass of water come from?" Eventually they'd work out that was my superpower, and they'd all laugh at me because it's rubbish. Then one day their building would start burning down and they'd say "Quick! Has anyone got some water?" And they'd look out the window to see me on the pavement, calmly drinking a glass of water and laughing.
Browse some of Ross' children's books below:
The Tornado Chasers
When Owen Underwood's family move to Barrow, it's because there's nowhere safer in the Valleys - and safety is very important. Especially when the threat of tornadoes, and giant bears, is constant. But in Barrow, safety is taken to extremes. Children have to wear bright yellow at all times and are never allowed outside except to go to school.View Book
Perijee & Me
When 11-year-old Caitlin discovers a shrimp-like alien creature on the shores of her island home, she takes responsibility for teaching it about the world. Mostly, this just involved stopping little Perijee from eating everything! Caitlin becomes increasingly close to her alien friend, treating him like a brother.View Book