A day in the life of children’s author Abi Elphinstone

#WordBookDay is only days away! Read about a typical day in the life of children’s author Abi Elphinstone.

6:15am: alarm goes off, snapping me out of my dream (which is usually about riding a snow leopard across the Arctic ice plains Lyra / Iorek style).

6:45am: eat breakfast while reading a book for 8-12-year-olds. At the moment I’m reading Tom Avery’s Not As We Know It. There’s a mer creature in this story so I’m hooked. Then I answer any outstanding emails (there’s usually one from my mum telling me to wear a vest and one from my sister with a photo of a unicorn – she’s like that).

7:00am: scuttle inside my writing shed at the bottom of the garden. I usually spend the first hour in there reviewing a book on my blog: www.moontrug.com

8:00am: If I’m in the early stages of my book I map out my world onto an ordinance survey map, create a ‘story arc’ detailing major plot points or read an ancient myth to spark a bit of magic. This morning, I ordered An Illustrated Treasure of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales by Theresa Breslin and I’m sure it’ll prove great story-hunting material…

11:00am: Get a bit distracted (eat a few Oreos or tweet a photo of me doing a star-jump). Then I focus again on my book. The planning stage is so much fun but the organisation of my ideas into a plot can be completely torturous. I think it’s partly because I’m dyslexic and I struggle with arranging ideas into coherent patterns; my brain is all over the place initially and I get so exasperated with myself. But if I’ve learnt anything over the years it’s that plot-planning takes time. You can’t rush it and just dive into the story. You need time to explore characters, settings, ideas and twists - and the book is all the better if you allow yourself that time.

12:30pm: Break for lunch (often eaten inside the floating wicker chair that hangs from the ceiling of my kitchen). Daydream about mer creatures.

13:00pm: Back to the writing hut. If I’m writing rather than planning, I might have some weird Zen music on in the background and maybe even a candle burning if I’m feeling particularly arty, but other than that it’s just me and my computer. The only time I break is if I’m struggling to describe something. Often it’s a sound so I either act the sound out (recently I let out some high-pitched bat screeches and the neighbours shouted at me to shut up) or I turn to youtube and listen to the sound I want so that I can break it down into words (last week I was youtubing wind funneling down a chimney)…

15:00pm: More writing. Unless it’s an adventure day and I get to go meet Romany gypsies, watch wildcats prowl or, if I’m VERY lucky, abseil into jungle caves…

19:00pm: emerge from my writing hut like some kind of deranged mythical creature. Try to familiarise myself with ordinary life and ordinary people (while secretly day dreaming about goblins). Then I repeat the whole deliciously magical process the next day :)


Watch the trailer for Abi’s debut children’s book, The Dreamsnatcher

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