Interview with Cat Clarke, writer, publisher and literary consultant

1/Please could you give us a brief biog. of yourself?

I’m a YA writer and my first novel Entangled will be published in January by Quercus. Until recently, I worked in children’s publishing as an editor, first at Usborne, then at Scholastic Children’s books where I edited non fiction, including Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories.

2/You have recently launched The Lighthouse Children’s Literary Consultancy, please could you tell us a little about it?

It’s a consultancy for writers of children’s and YA fiction. We’re looking to help both unpublished and published writers, and we provide appraisals of manuscripts, query letters, synopses and ideas. My business partner and I are both writers as well as editors.

3/What inspires you in a writer?

For me it’s all about the voice. The most original, exciting plot in the world isn’t going to grab me if the voice isn’t right.

4/What book would you have liked to have published?

I know it’s a cop-out answer, but I’d have to go for the Twilight series. If I’d published that, I would have earned enough cash to be able to publish LOADS of books I really love.

5/Are there any trends in children’s books at the moment?

In YA, it’s still hard to escape from paranormal romance – it seems to be the trend that just won’t die. Series fiction still dominates the younger market, so I’d love to see some good old-fashioned (but not old-fashioned) standalones.

6/Excluding ebooks, how do you see the market changing over the next 5 years?

Exluding ebooks? I wish I had a crystal ball! I know what I’d like to see though – more home-grown fiction for children and teenagers. Huge American imports seem to dominate at the moment, and I’d like to see people buying British for a change.

7/What writer would you invite round for tea?

The lovely Ben Johncock. He’d have to bring the cake though.

8/What top tip could you give to a writer submitting their work to an agent or publisher?

Don’t lose heart in the face of rejection, but equally don’t keep banging your head against a brick wall if all of the rejections are giving you the same feedback. Keep writing while you’re going through the submission process.

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