Joanne Harris advises would-be authors to get writing

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Celebrated author Joanne Harris’s top tip for aspiring young writers is simple…get writing!

The author of more than 20 books, including bestseller Chocolat which was turned into an Oscar-nominated film, told her audience of Y9 pupils at GSAL that it was her best piece of advice.

She said: “There is no single way to become a writer, but you really have to love writing and you need to be writing whenever you can.

“People sometimes say to me that they would love to be a writer but they just don’t have the time, but you don’t need a lot of time.  Just 15 minutes a day is enough to get some ideas written down, or if you have a bit more time, 300 words a day are all that’s needed.  At the end of a year you would have a book.”

Before becoming a successful author Joanne taught French at the former Leeds Grammar School for 12 years, both at Woodhouse Moor and Alwoodley. During her talk she reminisced about her time at the school and said it was an ideal place for a writer to work.

She said: “Writers need to be able to see a story and schools are full of stories: some are funny and some are tragic.  Schools are the perfect stage for tragedy and farce and, in fact, they are like villages. There is always something going on and there are people you like, people you don’t like, gossips, bullies, friends and intrigue. It’s all there.”

She admitted that her books featured people that she knew, however she tried to change them enough so that they would not be recognisable.

The only time she has broken this rule was when she included a character in Chocolat, based on physics teacher, Mr Fry.

She said: “I included his dog but I made the mistake of not changing the dog’s name which made him instantly recognisable. I had no idea that the book would be so successful and would become a film!”

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