Where do you get your ideas?
It varies. Ideas can come from anywhere – a real life situation I’ve experienced or read about; a snatch of overheard conversation; a piece of music sparking off an image in my mind’s eye… Sometimes two unrelated ideas simply come together in the imagination. The important thing is to recognise the seed of an idea when it presents itself – and to make a note of it.
Read more on Sophie’s inspiration for her books and characters.
Are any of your books going to be made into a film?
There are no plans as yet, but any book that tells a straightforward story with plenty of action should work well in the visual medium of film. I will definitely put the news on my website if anyone buys the rights to turn any of my books into a movie.
How long does it take to write a book?
Different books take different lengths of time. The Set-Up, the first Medusa Project story, took almost a year to write whereas the first draft of Girl, Missing was completed in six weeks. I’d say, on average, a book takes me four months – two to three months of hard writing, then several weeks of editing and revision.
When did you start writing – and why?
As a child, I loved making up stories – I used to wander around our garden for hours with whole imaginary families in my head!
However, I didn’t start writing seriously until I got made redundant from my job in a business-publishing company. I took a creative writing class and within a month or so realized that writing fiction was totally for me. I’m lucky that I know what I want to do – lots of people don’t.
Which of your characters did you most enjoy writing?
I always enjoy the character I’m writing right now, because I’m inside their head. However, of the people I’ve written so far, I was very fond of Rachel, in Blood Ties and Blood Ransom, because she starts off so unhappy and becomes much stronger through the story. Elijah in the Medusa stories is also interesting, because he’s complicated. He doesn’t think the bad things he does are bad, which I think is fascinating. Lauren, from the Girl, Missing series is also one of my favourites – for the opposite reason. Whereas Rachel is more insecure than me, Lauren is far braver!
Are any of your characters based on people you know?
Mmm… My brother provided the inspiration for one of my characters: Luke in the Luke & Eve books. Basically, my brother really liked this girl in my class who was two years older than him. They went out in secret for a while, then everyone found out – just like Luke and Eve!
Why write children’s books?
I don’t really think about whether what I write is for children or not, to be honest. I just write the sort of stories I want to read.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like movies and good food and listening to music. I used to play a lot of music when I wrote my early books. Sometimes this just helped me create or reflect the mood of the story; other times a particular track seems to sum up a scene or a character. For instance, all the music in Six Steps to a Girl (there are lyrics heading up each chapter) reflect the action that’s about to take place. When I was writing Blood Ties I listened to a particular track for each main character. This helped me switch between their two points of view.
Do any of your books have sequels?
Oh yes! The Medusa Project and Luke & Eve books were always planned as series. When I wrote Blood Ties I always intended to write a follow-up, which I did with Blood Ransom. Right from the start I knew there would be more to say about Rachel and Theo.
If you could have any super power what would it be?
Mind-reading, I think – being able to understand other people better would be very helpful for writing fictional characters. I’d also love to be able to fly!
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Writing. Seriously! I’m doing what I love to do – and then getting paid for it!! It’s also lovely when people tell me they’ve enjoyed my books.
Is there anything you don’t like?
When the idea in your head doesn’t come out on the page like you want it to. It’s really frustrating when that happens, but all you can do is keep trying to get it right.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
See my top ten writing tips.
How can I get my own book published?
Once you’re sure your book is as good as you can make it, I would recommend getting hold of a copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. This directory is published every year and gives advice and information on how to approach agents and publishers.
Where do you live?
North London. I grew up in South East London, and I’ve lived in the west and the east of the city too.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English. I’ve always loved stories. Listening to them, reading them, watching them, getting lost in them and, of course, writing them. There are stories in everything, but the only place at school where I felt I was really allowed to enjoy made-up stuff was English.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
One brother, who’s younger than me and lives in America. We’re very close now, though we weren’t particularly as young children. He liked guns and sports while I wanted to play dolls and dressing up.
Did you have any pets when you were growing up?
My mum was always taking in strays she found abandoned in our local area, but I only ever had one pet – a black cat – who was truly mine (apart from a goldfish called Goldy I won at a funfair and who died within about two hours of being brought home).
What did you do before you were an author?
I was a journalist and an editor for many years, but I’ve also been a shop assistant, a waitress, an au-pair and a receptionist.