Jazzy’s Q&A with Allison Tait
I first met Allison a few years ago when I was talking at a school about the MS Readathon. Allison is better known as A.L. Tait, the author of The Mapmaker Chronicles. The fourth addition to the series was recently released and is even better than the first three. You can read what I think about it HERE. I was lucky enough to have Allison visit my school this week and she was kind enough to let me interview her:
Q: How did you get the idea to write The Mapmaker Chronicles?
A: The idea for The Mapmaker Chronicles came from two conversations I had with my son, who was nine years old at the time. In the first one, we had a chat about how far space goes, and got to imagining what might be at the edges. In the second, he asked me how they mapped the world, and I explained to him that they had to ‘go’ – and that they probably felt the same way we felt when we stared out into space. Not knowing where the edges were. And we talked about how scary it would be.
In that moment, I had an idea for a race to map the world – and boy who didn’t want to go. So it was two conversations and a feeling, and now we have four books!
Q: When you came up with the concept, was the plan to make it a series?
A: Once I started to think about the idea, I realised it would need to be more than one book. It’s very hard to travel around the whole world in a sailing ship in one book! So I always knew it would be more than one. Then I decided that the race would have a one-year deadline, so I worked out how far Quinn, Zain and Ash might get in that time. With book four, Quinn is starting a new adventure, taking him into unknown waters again!
Q: Your main character is Quinn. Is he like anyone you know?
A: I think any character is probably made up of bits of people you know, bits of yourself and bits that are just theirs. Quinn is like that. He has some traits that remind me of people I know, some that probably come from deep within me, and some – like his perfect memory – that are just Quinn’s.
Q: What book genre do you generally like to read?
A: I like stories full of mystery and adventure, friendship and a bit of humour. So it’s probably not surprising that’s what I ended up writing!
Q: Did you write any stories as a kid?
A: I used to write little stories all the time, but I don’t think any of them still exist. I mostly wrote them for school. I do have a poem that was published in the Sunday paper about the ANZACs, when I was 10 or 11. Mum cut it out and kept it for me.
Q: What's your top tip for someone interested in writing a book?
A: I think the best thing you can do if you want to write a book is to read lots of books. So much of what I know about writing, I learnt from reading other people’s stories – how they put them together, which bits I liked, which bits I didn’t. It gets to the point, after you’ve read enough, where you just instinctively know how to put a story together. But it does take a long time (and a LOT of reading) to learn.
Q: How many times do you edit a book before you show it to a publisher?
I usually write one draft, read it aloud to one of my boys (I have two sons, now aged 10 and 13), edit it and then send it to my publisher. BUT, then she edits it and sends it back to me with lots of notes to think about. So I edit it again. AND THEN, it goes
to a copy editor, who goes through every sentence and asks a lot of hard questions about why my characters are doing things, and then I edit it again. AND THEN, it goes to a proofreader, who reads every single word to make sure its spelt correctly and that
everything makes sense, and I do that as well, at the same time, so I’m basically editing it again.
You have to really like the story you’ve written because you’re going to be reading it over and over and over again.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island and got to pick one thing to bring with you, what would it be and why?
A: Oh gosh. I’m assuming that I have food and water at my disposal, and maybe my family has been stranded with me, so all my essentials are there. So, of course, the next thing would be a big fat book. Lord Of The Rings by JRR Tolkien, which I’ve read a million times already but I still enjoy, or all of the Harry Potter books, because they’ll keep me going for ages!