Are the characters in your books based on real people, or do you just make them up?
With the exception of the biographies of Canadian women that I’ve written, none of my characters are based on people I know. They all came out of my imagination. By the time I am finished a book, however, I really do “know” them. I live with them in my head for a long time. I know the things they like, the things that drive them crazy, how they feel about the other people in their families, even what they like to eat. That’s the only way a writer can make their characters “real” to their readers.
How can I become a writer?
Read, read, read. And write, write, write. You should read the type of stories you’d like to write. But mostly, I believe you become a writer by writing. You need to know how to spell, of course, and how to write a proper sentence. But, in the end, after the grammar lessons, you have to get down to putting the words on the page. Look for opportunities to practise your writing. Check any magazines for young people at the library to see if they publish children’s writing. Once in a while you may even discover a writing competition that you could enter. (That’s how I started). Write letters to the editor of the local paper. Perhaps the editor is looking for someone to start a column of school news. Small newspapers are great for this sort of thing. Does your school or youth organization have a newsletter, online or otherwise? Maybe you could write a short article for it. Always ask the editor first what sort of material he/she is looking for. And don’t give up. Believe in yourself, and keep writing. You can do it!