Annaliese Matheron author of the Ninja Nan books and the forthcoming Wolflore series talks about all things writing!
When did you start writing?
I started writing properly, with purpose and dedication about five years ago, after I completed my degree and realised that I wanted to be a writer.
So, you didn’t always want to be a writer?
No, I thought I was going to be everything but a writer growing up. I went through so many varied future job choices, ice skater, archaeologist, astrophysicist, theatre director, there was a long list. But I hadn’t thought about being a writer, even though I have always loved books and enjoyed writing, I never thought of it as a career choice and I still don’t, not really; I don’t write because I choose to, I write because I have to. It’s as if I was slowly infiltrated and taken over by a deep need to write all the stories that fill my head. It took a while for me to realise that it had happened, it wasn’t until I caught myself constantly thinking about writing that I realised it had sucked me in and dragged me under.
I can’t understand why I didn’t realise that writing was meant for me before; maybe I just didn’t see it. But I now realise that through writing I get to be many, many, things far more interesting things than I had ever dreamed of being when I grew up. I love writing, I need writing; I am a very happy word junkie and I never, ever want to stop.
You said your stories fill your head, where do you find inspiration for your writing?
I find inspiration everywhere. I try to ground all of my stories in relatable reality. Even when a demon is chasing after a werewolf or a geriatric spy is using a pair of nunchucker knitting needles to stop a criminal boss, their actions and their motives are real and identifiable.
I get a lot of inspiration from my childhood, my children and the people around me as well as music, art and history. I read a lot of non-fiction and I think this helps to ground everything I write and add a solid perspective.
You mentioned before that your Nan was the main inspiration for the Ninja Nan books, does that mean that she was a spy?
Haha, no. But that would be very cool. My Grandparents are very important to me. They are both very strong characters and loving people. The Ninja Nan concept came about when I was telling my children about all the things my Nan used to get up to when I was little. We used to call her Riff-Raff Nanny and she was the first person on the bouncy castle and the last person off it she was always doing things Nan’s shouldn’t like trying to do handstands in the garden and things like that. She could also used to throw her slipper and hit her target every time.
She doesn’t go on many bouncy castles now days, and her aims a little off, but she’s still a force to be reckoned with!
Ninja Nan and Sidekick Grandad has been chosen to participate in The People’s Book Prize, how do you feel about that?
I feel very honoured to have my book selected for the prize. It’s a wonderful achievement and a huge award to be considered for.
Ninja Nan and Sidekick Grandad is such a fun book, I hope it does well.
There are currently two Ninja Nan books, Ninja Nan and Sidekick Grandad and Ninja Nan Strikes Again, are you planning anymore?
When I first wrote Ninja Nan and Sidekick grandad it was going to be a standalone book, a one off. But I had so much fun writing it and some really good feedback from the children that read it and wanted more that I decided to turn it into a series of adventures. Also my Aunt Sue kept reminding me of all of Nan’s Antics over the years; like when she got totally paralytic one Newears eve at a party and me and my cousins had to push Nan home in a shopping trolley!
I’ve just finished the third Ninja Nan book, Ninja Nan and the Trio of Trouble , which will be out as an ebook in April and a paperback from May, and I have a fourth one gathering form in my thoughts Ninja Nan and her Merry Men, but after that I’ll stop the Ninja Nan books and move on to new challenges.
One of those new challenges is your new book Wolflore, what can we expect from that?
Wolflore, I’m very excited about Wolflore. It’s about a young boy, Adam Blake, who finds out that he is not entirely human and that the world around him isn’t all he thinks it is. There are things that are out to hunt him, demons lurking in the corridors of his school and dead things in his bed.
He has to come to terms with what he is and where he fits in this new reality whilst still functioning in what we class as the world, there is still school, still family life, best friends, school bullies and girls but there are also, werewolves, demons, sirens and voodoo priestesses.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing wolflore and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story is heading.
Don’t you know what’s going to happen in the Wolflore books?
No, I never know what’s going to happen in a story. I start with an idea something that I think is interesting and has potential to grow, I keep this in my mind and it slowly finds likeminded thoughts and grows bigger, then I start writing, but I never know where it’s going I let my characters show me the way and sometimes they really surprise me.
If there is something important or fun that I want to happen then I hold that in my mind but I don’t force it I just let the action take shape and find its way there, or not!
When will we be able to read Wolflore?
Wolflore will be out in the summer.
Who do you write for?
Um...I write for anyone that enjoys reading and likes good adventure stories. My books are predominantly for children Ninja Nan is for age 7+ and Wolflore 9+ but anyone can enjoy the books, 75 year olds have contacted me telling me how much they enjoyed Ninja Nan.
And although lots of people have commented on the appeal of my books to boys I don’t write with just boys in mind. I write what I find interesting and what insists on being written; I don’t choose to write for an age group, as such, the story, the action, and the language dictate that.
What books did you read when you were little?
I used to read a lot of non-fiction, just like I do now, but my favourite author as a child was Roald Dahl, I love Danny Champion of the World, it’s my favourite Dahl book.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Firestorm Rising by John Clewarth, It’s a fantastically good story full of mystery and a few frights along the way. I love the friendship between the three central characters and the way that the story grows and builds on the suspense it creates.
John is a friend of mine but that has no bearing on my opinion.
To vote for Annaliese’s book Ninja Nan and Sidekick Grandad for the People’s book prize go to www.peoplesbookprize.com and to buy the Ninja Nan books check out www.mauvesquare.com