I was lucky enough to get the chance to do a Q&A with Author Alex Ratt. Alex Ratt’s book The Stinky Street Stories was released yesterday. I have a review for The Stinky Street Stories that went up earlier this week. I hope this Q&A ties you over untill you can get your hands on The Stinky Street Stories.
Where and when can we buy your book?
The Stinky Street Stories will be filling bookstores with foul fumes from 28 March.
Give us an insight into your main character. Why does he want to be called Brain?
Brian has a rather over-inflated sense of his own brilliance. (In fact, it is really his sister Brenda who is the brainy one.) But he means well!
Was there a particular moment or smell that sparked your idea for this book?
Who would have thought that walking down a street lined with rubbish bins stuffed full of prawn shells would lead to a book idea? But it was a very STINKY STREET!
When did you decide to become a writer?
I have actually been writing for more than ten years (as the more fragrant Frances Watts; Alex Ratt is a pen name). In fact, the inspiration for my first book, a picture book called Kisses for Daddy, also came while walking down the street. In that instance, witnessing a funny moment between a cheeky little boy and his dad sparked a story idea.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I started writing almost immediately after seeing the boy and his dad mentioned above. Although I have always loved reading and writing, I never thought of writing a book myself until that first story started bubbling away in my head.
Do you have a special time or place where you like to write?
I find mornings are the best time to write (which is strange, because I am not a morning person). And though I’d love to be one of those people who writes in cafes, I’m much more productive at my desk.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
When I’m writing something long I try for 1500–2000 words a day…Wouldn’t it be wonderful to actually achieve that?! Really, I’m happy with 1000 words a day. And that’s only the first draft, of course; I usually do three or four drafts at least.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I always start longhand, writing ideas and random scenes and passages of dialogue in my notebook. The ‘proper’ writing takes place on the computer though.
Where do your ideas come from?
Well, it seems that just walking down the street is my best source of inspiration! But I also draw on my memories and experiences, things I see while travelling, my love of history…even language itself—a lovely sequence of words that rolls off the tongue in a delightful way (usually involving alliteration: putrid pongs, rotten reeks and foul fumes can be found in abundance on Stinky Street!).
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
A bit of both…I usually have a general sense of where the plot is going, but I don’t quite know how I’m going to get there. Sometimes I’m quite surprised by the result!
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Ideas for stories! I have so many stories in my head I’m eager to tell.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
There are times when a story just won’t go where you want it to. (Stories can be stubborn like that.)
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Walking. It’s funny how many writers say the same thing: going for a walk always helps. And it turns out it’s no coincidence. Researchers at Stanford University have found recently that walking really does help boost creativity.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I am obsessed with a picture book at the moment: We Found This Hat by Jon Klassen. (It’s all in the turtles’ eyes…)
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Well, I know I could be better at it than I am!
How do you relax?
Reading. (Of course!) Plus travelling and cooking.
What is your favourite book and why?
Russell Hoban’s The Twenty-Elephant Restaurant. It’s hilarious.
What is your favourite quote?
‘Sometimes it’s a one-man circus and sometimes it’s a twenty-elephant restaurant. And that’s life.’ (from Russell Hoban’s The Twenty-Elephant Restaurant)
Which writers inspire you?
Writers like Jackie French and Russell Hoban, who have written for all ages in a variety of genres, have made me feel free to do the same.
What is your favourite film and why?
There’s this French film called Conversations with My Gardener…It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?! I’m a big scaredy-cat, so I prefer films with no drama or tension. (A bit of lovely scenery is a bonus.)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find your creative satisfaction in the act of writing itself. Whether your book will be a commercial or critical success is outside your control, but you can control how much work and care and passion you put into your manuscript. Write to please yourself first.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thank you so much to Alex Ratt for participating in this Q&A.
The Stinky Street Stories by Alex Ratt is available now.