John with his book about the Titanic

6. My work as a children's author
It's what I do

I've been a full-time author since 1994 ...

Over the years I've written many books, most of which are information or fact books for children. I write some fiction too, but that's another story.*

Many of my books are about history, especially topics taught in British schools such as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Tudors, and World War II.

Writing these books keeps me in touch with my interest in history, and I like to think I include up-to-date or odd facts that other children's books miss out.

However, I'm just as happy writing books about the weather, cars, aircraft, hyenas, dragons, dinosaurs, famous people, and so on.

No matter what the book is, if it's an information book it has to be researched. I need to know how to search for information, and where to look for it. Every fact has to be researched, and I have to remember where I found the information in case I need to go back and double-check (and believe me, I do).

Research takes a lot of time, and it's a key skill in writing a non-fiction book. To research a topic I use the internet, libraries and go on visits to relevant places. Sometimes I interview people.

I work from home. My office looks like a library (a messy one), with eight tall bookcases full of books, mostly reference ones. The floor is always covered in piles of books, too. It wouldn't matter how big my office was, I'd always end up filling it with books!

Working from home means I spend a lot of time on my own. But I've found a great way of getting out of the house and meeting lots of people.

Who do you think I meet? Could it be someone like you? You'll find out when you read page 7.

* Click here to read my short story about a chimney sweep: Climbing Boy