Ann Evans has penned many titles for Badger Learning over the years including A Little Secret from their Papercuts I series, which has been shortlisted for two 2019 awards. She has also written The Prize from Big Top of Horrors, Promise Me from Between The Lines and Runaway from Badger Learning’s popular series, YA Reads II.
As a particular lover of mystery and suspense, especially when there's a ghostly or supernatural element Ann loves to write for children, young adults and adults and has around 20 books to her name as well as writing magazine articles on all kinds of topics from animals to toy collectors.
Ann loves to help children and adults develop their writing skills running creative writing courses and regularly visiting schools to run workshops and give talks about books and writing.
Her home is in Coventry in the West Midlands, she's a mum of three grown-up children. She shares her home with Georgie – a crazy cockatiel who loves walking up and down her computer keyboard when she's trying to write.
Q&A with Ann Evans
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
There's nothing more satisfying than to learn that someone now loves reading since they read one of your books. A few years ago, during a school visit, a 16 year old girl told me that she never read until a friend of hers leant her one of my books, The Beast. The story gripped her, and that prompted her to read more. She became an avid reader and came up to me at this school visit to thank me! That was such a wonderful thing to be told.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
I think to be faced with a big block of print can be very daunting. So with shorter paragraphs, shortish sentences and a story that moves at quite a pace will draw them in rather than turning them away. Also, they might worry in case they can't grasp what's going on, so a story that gets straight into the action is best.
What is your favourite type of character to create?
It's fun creating the villains – it's easier to write about someone's dark and evil characteristics rather than their virtues. So I definitely like writing those characters who have a mean streak.
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that high-interest appeal that really engages young readers?
I generally have normal, everyday people as my main characters, so that readers can identify with them. And then I create some kind of extraordinary experience that they find themselves wrapped up in and have to deal with. I try to make the stories intriguing and suspenseful, and make sure that chapters end on cliffhangers.
What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?
I think books like these are massively helpful to children in need of literacy support. They allow the child to engage in the activity of reading a good story which has been written with their age group in mind, rather than them having to read stories that are too young for them to enjoy. Also, a child who isn't a particularly good reader could feel quite embarrassed if the only books they can cope with are clearly for much younger readers. I'm sure that these books for reluctant readers boost a child's confidence as well as being entertaining and educational.
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in your title, Nightmare?
Beware who you kiss... Todd could never have imagined the horrors about to befall him when he kisses a girl in his class at school.
What are the major themes of your work?
I love writing suspense, and you can bring suspense into anything you write. The theme of Nightmare is if you deliberately hurt someone, chances are you're going to regret it.
What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?
I don't deliberately let restrictions on the vocabulary affect the writing of the story. Whatever you're writing, it should be easily understandable – and that's not just for children. A writer shouldn't set out to baffle a reader or prove themselves to be a wonderful wordsmith by using obtuse words. I tend to bear the reader in mind and then write what comes naturally.
What is your favourite children's book?
This is a hard question as I love so many children's books, modern and classic. But the book that had the most effect on me is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?
My advice to aspiring writers is that the craft of writing is something you can learn, it's not something the majority of authors are born with. It's something they've achieved through working at the craft and learning all the while from books, other writers and tutors. The only way to become a writer, is to write! The more you write the better you become - and the stronger your own unique style becomes. I would also say don't be put off by rejection, it's all par for the course. The thing is to learn by your mistakes and persevere!
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