Anne Fine was born and educated in the Midlands, and now lives in County Durham. She has written numerous highly acclaimed and prize-winning books for children and adults.
Her novel The Tulip Touch won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Goggle-Eyes won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal, and was adapted for television by the BBC; Flour Babies won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Bill's New Frock won a Smarties Prize, and Madame Doubtfire has become a major feature film starring Robin Williams. Anne was the Children's Laureate 2001 - 2003 and won an OBE in 2003.
For a fully comprehensive list of Anne's many awards and for further information on her books please go to: www.annefine.co.uk
PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:
Leicester; 7 December
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION:
My family obviously, then my dog. (I hope I wouldn't be tempted to leave the cats...) Then the notes for the book I'm working on. (The print outs for what I've written already are safe in the car boot.)
To be able to sing
WHAT DO YOU HATE MOST:
People sniffing (especially on trains)
When did you start writing?
The flip answer is that one January there was such a blizzard I couldn't get to the library and so I sat down and began a book of my own. And never stopped writing. But, more sensibly, the best advice I was ever given at school was, 'Find out what you like doing most in all the world, and then find someone who'll pay you to do it.' So, since books have always been my greatest pleasure, it's not surprising that I've ended up in a career that entails mostly reading and writing.
Where do you get your ideas?
If it's for quite young readers, and a quite short book, it's often something very simple you hear or read. You just think, 'Oh, that would make a good story.' And you just go off and write it, hoping the characters will come to life, and the background you need will fill itself in as you go along. And it usually does. With books for older children, it's quite different. There, usually, it's the subject, the theme, that interests me. I find myself wondering, 'What do I really think about teenage rebellion, living in step families, violent children, or whatever?' I read around the subject, knowing that, sooner or later, a character will begin to grow in my mind, and gradually they'll get a 'voice' of their own; and I begin to think of the situation they're in, and how I'll be able to use that to show what I started with: what I think about the subject that interests me.
What advice would you give to a would-be writer?
Read, read, read. The practice for writing (whatever teachers say!) is not writing, but reading. If you don't have a library card (and not in the teapot on the mantlepiece), you cannot be serious. Then, as Philip Larkin says, write the book you yourself would most like to read.
Do you put your family in your books?
Bits of them, sometimes. But mostly, as Jan Mark says, 'Writers don't write about people they know. They write what they know about people.'
Why do you put issues in so many of your books?
I get bored very easily, and books take a long time to write, so I prefer to write about things that are complicated and interesting and that matter. I read politics at university, and I think that shows through quite a lot of the writing.
How long does it take you to write a book?
For readers of ten and up, around a year. My adult novels have taken closer to two years. You can't write dialogue slowly, or it sounds unnatural.
Favourite place in the world and why?
The bath, definitely. I spend hours and hours in the bath, reading.
What do you like most about being a writer?
The silence. Working alone. Not having the constant compromises in my work life that most people have. I write the books for me (me at five, me at eleven, me at fourteen), then hope there are readers out there who like the same sorts of books I do.