Most Frequently Asked Questions
Children often email Justin with questions about himself,
his books and his writing. Here are some of the most
frequently asked questions and Justin’s answers
Q. What inspired you to become an author?
A. Books! Ever since
I learned to read I REALLY loved books. So I started
writing my own (they were comic books) when I was nine
years old. Then I tried writing a novel when I was eleven
or twelve, but I gave up after about 30 pages. But it
didn’t put me off reading and writing, and in
the back of my mind I decided I’d try writing
more books when I was an adult. And that’s what
I’m really lucky because what started as a hobby
when I was a child became my job as an adult.
Q. Where do you get the ideas for your books?
A. Anything that interests
me or catches my attention can lead to a story, a book
or a sub-plot for a book. It could be an article I read
in the newspaper, something interesting I see while
I’m taking my dog for a walk, or even a line from
a song. But the best ideas spring from my imagination.
I’ll look at something quite ordinary and my brain
will go ‘Ping!’ and turn it into a story
Q. Do you write by hand or on a computer?
A. I always use a
computer. I’m a compulsive rewriter and am always
editing and changing bits that I wrote the day before,
so if I wrote by hand I’d use about 10,000 sheets
of paper to write a single book.
Q. How long does it take to write a book?
A. Usually about three
months. My quickest book was Crocodile Attack, because
it was SO exciting I couldn’t stop! It took six
weeks. My slowest was Shaedow Master, which took fourteen
and a half months.
Q. When do you write?
A. I write every weekday
(unless I’m away visiting schools or libraries)
from 8.00 am till 1.00 pm.
Q. Do you plan your books before you start
A. Mostly I don’t
plan. When writing the Extreme Adventures series, for
example, I simply decide where the action will take
place, put Sam Fox into that setting, then make a list
of all the dangerous creatures and scary things he might
encounter there. After that, I work my way through the
list, making Sam confront each life-threatening situation
as it comes along. Poor Sam!
Q. Of all the books you’ve written, which
is your favourite?
A. That’s like
asking a parent who’s their favourite child. They’re
all my favourites, for different reasons. But judging
from the emails I get from readers, I’d say the
Extreme Adventures are YOUR favourites.
Q. What’s your next book?
A. Check out my Coming
Q. Do you base your characters on real people?
A. Never. But often
I use characteristics of real people when developing
Q. Where do you get your characters’
A. Sometimes I use
the first - or last - names of people I meet (though
never both together) - if the names suit my characters.
Q. How did you become an author?
A. My first publications
were cartoons and articles in motorbike magazines. Then
I wrote an adults’ novel, called ‘The Initiate’
that was published in 1989. I started writing for children
and young people in 1995. My first children’s
book, ‘Infamous’, was published in 1996.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone who wants
to become an author?
A. Read, read, read,
write, write, write. Being an author is just like any
other job: you have to serve an apprenticeship. Never
stop reading and never stop writing. It might take years
before your first story is published, but the most important
thing is you must enjoy writing them. If you don’t
enjoy reading and writing you will never be an author.
Q. Who’s your favourite author?
A. I don’t have
a single favourite author, I have hundreds! When you
read as many books as I do it’s impossible to
have a favourite. The author of every new book I read
is my favourite until I finish it and start another
Q. Are there any other authors in your family?
A. My cousin, Ted
Dawe, is a successful YA author in New Zealand.
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. Reading, bushwalking,
seeing new places.
Q. How old are you?
A. I’ll be turning
115 on 4 October 2068. You’re all invited to the
Q. Where can I buy your books?
A. At any good book
shop (and most bad ones, too). The problem with my books
is they are so popular that they often get sold within
a day or two of arriving in a book shop; so you’ll
go to buy one and it won’t be there. Here’s
what to do: simply go to the counter and ask the bookseller
to order a copy for you - it’ll take about a week
to arrive. But if you still have problems getting any
of my books, email me on email@example.com
and I’ll let you know how to get hold of an autographed
copy for LESS than you could buy it in a shop.
Q. Will you come to my school or library?
A. I’d love
to! Go to School Visits and follow the prompts. (If
I end up coming to your school because you got your
teacher or librarian to arrange the visit, I’ll
give you a free book.)
Favourite book by another author:
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.
Favourite food: Incredible Bean Pie.
Favourite fruit: Apple.
Favourite drink: Elephant Beer.
Favourite colour: Cerise.
Favourite movie: The Three Amigos.
Favourite TV show: Wildlife documentaries.
Favourite singer: Bruce Springsteen.
Favourite sport: Cycling.
Favourite day of the week: Saturday.
Favourite ice cream flavour: Pumpkin.
Least favourite ice cream flavour: Chocolate