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Live webchat with Malorie Blackman, Monday 19th October between 1 and 2pm

(49 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Oct-09 12:49:42

Award winning author Malorie Blackman will be joining us for an online chat on Monday 19th October at 1pm. Join us then or post advance questions to Malorie here.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:17:22

Dear Effie,

I totally agree with you about children's writers being brave and taking on controversial topics in this country - and isn't it wonderful! To be honest, I read far more books for children and young adults than books for adults. As I love strong, challenging stories, I think the best place to find those on a regular basis is in books for children/young adults.

I don't know of any children's writer who writes on controversial topics merely to be exploitative or gratuitous and I have read books for adults which have turned my stomach quite frankly. But there's usually an element of hope in children's books which appeals to me.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:21:01

Hi 40andproud, (love the name by the way!)

I hope your daughter enjoys the book.

And I totally agree with you about Jackie Kay's poem. Wasn't it wonderful and so moving. When Jackie was reading it, it brought a lump to my throat. There's been a big response to that poem so i'm glad it has been brought to the attention of more people.

antoxo Mon 19-Oct-09 13:23:34

I'm keen to find some new authors and books for my eleven year old son. He's a big reader but a bit stuck at the moment for new books. Do you think your books will be enjoyed by boys and girls? which book would you recommend he reads first? Also if he does enjoy you books, which other authors would you recommend? I'm always trying to push him towards books I enjoyed when I was his age, but he's keen to read more contemporary stuff!

deepdarkwood Mon 19-Oct-09 13:24:07

Thanks for coming, Malorie smile

What books most inspired and moved you as a child?

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:24:33

Hi Susye,

I've written over 50 books for children and young adults across all age ranges so it really does depend on the book. Books like Hacker, Dangerous Reality, Pig Heart Boy, Thief, etc are aimed at anyone from upper juniors upwards, whereas the Noughts and Crosses series are aimed at an older, secondary school audience and upwards.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:29:15

Hi Nanny,

I decided to write my first children's book when I was in my mid 20s because at that age I still enjoyed reading children's books. Two years and 82 rejection letters later, I had my first book published. It has long since been out of print but it was called Not So Stupid and it came out in 1990.

ginghamgiraffe Mon 19-Oct-09 13:32:50

Hi Malorie
I'm so in awe at how much you've achieved.
I'm gearing up to do National Novel Writing Month in November for the first time -and am a little bit scared.

I'm now intrigued as to how other writers do the WRITING.
How do you write? Where?

antoxo Mon 19-Oct-09 13:37:53

Hi again, I've just been looking at your website and see you had quite a few other jobs before you became a published author. Did you always want to become an author? Did you write as a child? Who were your influences and was there a particular person who encouraged you to believe you could make it?

Champagnesupernova Mon 19-Oct-09 13:39:13

I am so shocked at your hubby's friend re: the books! shock

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:45:11

Hi Deepdark,

So many books moved and inspired me as a child. I loved myths, legends and fairy stories in particular. But when I was 10 or 11, I felt children's books no longer 'spoke' to me so I started reading adult books (there were no books written specifically for young adults at the time). i devoured Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple's stories and read other books that were totally unsuitable for an 11 year old! I remember being particularly inspired by The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. I loved what it had to say about believing in yourself and believing in something bigger/better/greater than yourself, even when others are laughing at you or telling you that you're wrong.

nannynick Mon 19-Oct-09 13:45:50

82 rejection letters - you must have been very determined to get your book published. Great that you didn't give up.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:53:44

Hi Antoxo,

I had a number of summer and Saturday jobs whilst I was doing my O and A levels but my first full time job was in Computing. I started off as a glorified filing clerk and went on to be a programmer, a Systems Programmer and then a Captial Markets Database Manager (that was so boring!)

To be honest, I didn't think about being a writer until my mid 20s because it never occured to me that black people became writers until i read The Color Purple by Alice Walker and that was when I was 23. I hadn't read a novel which featured black characters before that. So in a way, that book definitely opened my eyes in more ways than one.

That said, I have always written stories and poems for myself from the time I was 7 or 8 but that was for my own amusement.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 13:59:04

Hi Antoxo,

I hope he would enjoy some of my books. Maybe you could try him with Hacker, Thief, Antidote or Pig Heart Boy but I guess it depends on what type of books he likes. You could also try him with the Diamond Brother mystery books by Anthony Horowitz. They are very funny and good mysteries.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 14:02:27

Hi Lio,


Did you agonise over killing off Callum at the end of Noughts and Crosses or was it a decision you made very early on?

Just to answer your question, I knew by the time I was writing the middle of book which way the wind was blowing but, and this is going to sound totally daft, writing the end of that book still made me cry!

antoxo Mon 19-Oct-09 14:04:42

Many thanks for the recommendations - will definitely give some of these a go. Funny you should mention the Diamond Brothers as they were big favourites with my son - agree they are fantastic and really funny. He's pretty much exhausted Anthony Horowitz's bibliography though, so it's great to get some new recommendations.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 19-Oct-09 14:08:13

Well the hour is up and a big thanks to Malorie for joining us and answering so many of our questions. We'll be archiving the chat, which will be linked to from the home page later today. Thanks again Malorie - that was great.

Lio Mon 19-Oct-09 14:10:47

Oh gosh, not daft at all, Malorie, it must have been dreadful to write. I also think I knew which way the wind was blowing, but it was agonising all the same. I had to read it several times to check I was absolutely right about what happened, to kill that remaining flicker of hope.

I am quite shocked to learn that you didn't think about writing because of the lack of black role models. It is good for me (a white person) to be shocked afresh into realising why continuing to address issues of race - and to make it 'normal' for a black child to think without limits about what s/he wants - is important.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 14:20:23

Hi Roisin,

All power to you when you're promoting reading for pleasure. I'm totally with you there.

I totally agree with you that with all these various government iniatives, reading for fun and pleasure has somehow got lost when in fact that should come FIRST, but as far as what we do about it is concerned, that's the big question.

I think we all need to make more noise about getting children reading for fun and pleasure, then reading for knowledge, to improve vocabulary, etc will come. It's about increasing the breadth of the fiction children read and it's also about getting boys and girls reading fiction to improving their emotional vocabulary.

MalorieBlackman Mon 19-Oct-09 14:22:30

Hi All,
Thanks for all the great questions.
Happy reading.

deepdarkwood Mon 19-Oct-09 14:26:41

Thanks Malorie smile

40andproud Mon 19-Oct-09 14:51:54

Thank you so much Malorie for taking the time to talk to us today. What a great webchat!

MichKit Mon 19-Oct-09 14:59:29

Grr, thanks to office meetings I missed the webchat!

But thanks so much for answering my question Malorie, you've made my day grin

ErikaMaye Tue 20-Oct-09 07:14:31

Missed it, damn antenatal clinic!!! Thank you for coming and thank you for answering my question - will be grinning all day now grin

nannynick Tue 20-Oct-09 07:14:49

Reading Pig-Heart Boy now. It's good so far (5 chapters in). Seems a good book even for adults as a quick read.

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