Our FCBG Asks feature is a great way for us to catch up with an author or illustrator from the world of children’s books. This month we were lucky enough to catch up with Tom Palmer. Tom will be attending our Annual Conference later this year and we are looking forward to seeing him there!
When do you do your best writing? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning is best. I like it when I wake up early – anything after 5.30 a.m. – and can go for it. I do admin and school visits in the afternoons. With several cups of tea and a dog walk with my wife.
Do you have a process for writing and how long from idea to first draft do you like to spend?
I love researching and planning. I go deep with the research and then try and piece it all together into a plan. For one of the Barrington Stoke history books, that phase can take three months usually. But I do think it saves me time overall to hold off writing for so long.
Your school visits are widely popular and fun to watch. What are the strangest questions you have been asked by children?
Do you dye your hair? That was in a Manchester secondary. (I don’t, for the record.)
How many books have you written to date? Do you have any favourites of your own titles?
54 published and 8 not published. Armistice Runner is my favourite. It’s a lot to do with me and my daughter’s love of fell running.
What books do you like to read in your spare time?
It varies. I think 75% of what I read is closely linked to what I am writing. The rest of the time whatever takes my fancy. I am reading a bit of adult fiction at the moment; though I usually more kids’ than adults. I think I am trying to improve my prose. Claire Keegan, Sarah Moss and Elena Ferrante. So far in 2022.
What books did you love to read when you were growing up?
None. I would read the football pages in the newspapers, Ceefax and football magazines.
How do you think we can build a love of reading in our children?
My mum got me reading through football (see above). Build confidence through the familiar. Offer comic books and fact books as much as fiction. Make it bespoke. Then – for me – I found the flames spread through the other sections in the library and bookshop once the fire took hold.
What’s next for you?
I have a book out with Barrington Stoke in August, but am not allowed to talk about it until April. Coinciding with the FCBG conference where there might be proofs (but that depends on me getting my edits together this month). I am finishing it this month and am trying really hard to stretch myself. It’s about a very brave girl is all I can say.
What do you hope 2022 will bring?
I know so many people who are having tough times in their lives. Some very close people. Others who are friends and acquaintances. I want them all to have a lighter load to bear. That goes for anyone really. I think 2020 and 2021 have been hard. I want things to be less hard for everyone.
Thank you to Tom for taking the time to answer these questions! Check out Tom’s website below for resources, links and information on school visits and his books! https://tompalmer.co.uk/