Interview with Vera Lethbridge

What's the story behind your latest book?
17-21 November 2014 is Anti-Bullying Week in Great Britain, and I'm delighted to see all the publicity coming along. Bullying is a subject close to my heart and background, partly because I was a teacher for many years and know how destructive and hidden it can be. My latest book features Kit Marsh, age 10, and his complicated life. It's the story of what can happen, with a little magic from some wee aliens, when bullying gets out of control. It's a lot of fun - and a rollercoaster of a story - that will allow children age 7-12 or above to think about and discuss bullying while enjoying a good read.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'v'e written bits and pieces all my life, and some years ago I found I finally had time to really start writing seriously. My characters and what's happening to them truly matter to me, and I hope they'll matter to you too!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm just starting, so I'll let you know later!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing for kids, writing about something that matters to them, that they can relate to.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a book called A Ghost of a Girl, about a young girl in Australia who suffers a terrible bereavement and how she copes. It's based on a true story - I never found out what really happened and it bothered me so much that I decided to write my own ending, in the hope that the real ending was also uplifting. The book is a labour of love and hope.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm talking books for children, young people and sometimes 'crossover' here.
I adore Jackie Wilson, as I know from experience she relates to so many young people and children in a very profound way. Malorie Blackman writes books that grab young people and make them think.

Michael Morpurgo and Jeremy Strong are also wonderful story tellers, with masses of humour and a deep understanding of what their readers find truly fascinating. Kids who aren't very keen on reading love both these authors.

And I'll read Melvin Burgess and Patrick Ness anytime. They write clear and beautiful prose and produce page turning realistic stories. I also enjoy Cathy Macphail (Roxy's Baby, Grannie Nothing amongst many books) and Linda Strachan (Dead Boy Talking is chillingly good) - their Scottish sense of humour and gritty realism make for a great read.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing, grandchildren, my allotment, friends, walking by the sea, travel, cooking, even the gym! - there is so much out there I have to plan carefully!
What is your writing process?
I have an idea. I'll probably do some research (on subjects like bullying or children's bereavement - anything serious needs serious background work) I develop characters, giving them many more characteristics than I'll use, but it helps me get to know them and love them - or hate them. Then I develop the story and roughly block it out. Next I write, fast and badly, just to get the story out. Finally, I rewrite ....and rewrite again.... and again.... and again. I am the world's worst fiddler with words.
Finally comes a moment when I can't usefully fiddle any more.
Then I need a proof reader - I have always proofread for others, but have learned to my cost that you can't see your own stupid mistakes!
What stories have had a particular impact on you growing up?
I'm a reader, so many books have mattered deeply, but here's a selection. Cheaper by the Dozen by Gilbraith amused me hugely but also taught me to be efficient, and not waste precious time with excess movements or too many steps, in the wrong order (!) when doing things.
I was a sucker for Laura Ingalls Wilder - the whole series, every single one. And its such fun to reread my favourite books with grandchildren - Charlotte's Web, Swallows and Amazons, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe....
How do you approach cover design?
Badly I suspect. I have been trying to teach myself to illustrate as well as write and covers are the hardest of all.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read books for children and young people as well as adult fiction.
Describe your desk
I absolutely love my desk. It's big and old and stained and was made from walnut planks somewhere in rural France. All four legs have had to be replaced - floors in farmhouses were regularly sluiced down with water - so you can see the angled joining up. I'm definitely not the first person to upset a drink on the surface. The desk isn't even flat, but has a distinct bend in the middle, and a single deep drawer either side. You can pull out an extra foot at each end - someone must have added this feature later on, as it's a bit wonky and the wood is really thin, but my oh my, it's brilliantly useful when you're really busy. It's such a big desk I can even keep a row of important books at the back, along with my big wooden 'tidy'.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up first in California, partly in a city and partly on a ranch. Later my family moved to Europe (Coppet in Switzerland, as well as shorter periods in Upsala, Sweden and then France and Germany and England) and finally to Oberlin, Ohio. By the time I finished high school, I'd attended twelve schools. It marks you, for life!
Published 2014-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Whizzagazoom!
Price: $1.50 USD. Words: 31,470. Language: English. Published: September 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
A chapter book about a family in trouble - saved by snuffalumps. At first the magic is fantastic. Snuffalumps can whizzagazoom anything, superfast. All Jamie and Grace's wishes start coming true. It's only when Jamie's brilliant library plan takes off that everything goes suddenly horribly wrong. Can Jamie and Grace solve the mystery of the snuffalumps and save them from the evil Robbo?
Bully for you!
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,830. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Bullying, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Alternative Family
Primary school chapter book about what happens, with a little help from some wee alien Krakens, when school bullying gets out of control. Meet Kit Marsh, fat as sausages, with a habit of talking before he thinks. The Krakens are trashing his house and his Gran can't even see them, but school is worse. Big Trev is lurking and Kit's terrified. Watch Kit's desperate brain hatch an awesome plan!