Interview with Sally Nicholls for SCBWI writing retreat

Award-winning author Sally Nicholls led the SCBWI-BI Writer’s Retreat on 8th May – 11th May 2015. In anticipation of this event, I caught up with Sally for Words & Pictures, the society’ online magazine. Here’s a quick excerpt.

ROWENA: One thing that really struck me when I was reading your books for this interview was the authenticity of your young narrators’ voices. In Ways to Live Forever and Close Your Pretty Eyes, for example, you bounce us straight into the heads of your 11-year-old narrators even though they’re dealing with some dark and sophisticated psychological issues. How do you achieve that balance between a difficult subject matter and a young voice?

SALLY: Mostly it’s just remembering. When I wrote Ways to Live Forever, which is the one I wrote on the (Bath Spa University) MA, about a little boy with leukaemia, a lot my fellow students were quite frightened of dying. I remember thinking: Well, I don’t think I would have been frightened of dying if I’d had a terminal illness when I was eleven. I wouldn’t have wanted it, of course, but I just couldn’t image that I would have been frightened because you have quite a simplistic view of death as a child. So I talked to some nurses at a local hospital and they said, No, you’re not frightened at eleven. The parents are frightened, but the kids aren’t.

Read the full interview here:

Author: Rowena House

ROWENA HOUSE spent years as a foreign correspondent in France, Africa and then again in Europe before turning to fiction. Her debut novel, a First World War coming-of-age quest called THE GOOSE ROAD, is published by Walker Books (2018). Her fascination with the Great War, the trenches, and the appalling artillery battles of the Somme and Verdun began at school when studying the war poets, Wilfred Owen in particular. As an adult, she experienced war first-hand as a Reuter’s reporter in Ethiopia, and saw its terrible impact on civilians. Now settled in the English countryside with her husband and son, she holds a Master’s degree in rural economics and another in creative writing, and mentors fiction writers alongside her journalism and storytelling.

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