Author Jon Robinson decided he wanted to be a writer at the age of 11 and, since then, he has published three books for young adults and has a fourth in the pipeline. He led workshops in generating story ideas and creative writing techniques as well as giving a presentation to the whole Year 7 cohort about his background and writing career.
Mr Robinson said: ‘I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 11 or 12. I loved reading and telling stories but it is a very difficult career to get into. I have been sending stuff off since I was 21 and had lots of rejections but in 2011 I got my own literary agent and that is the step where most people fail because it is so brutal. I still cannot believe my luck that I got a deal with Puffin.’
His first novel, Nowhere was published in 2013 and the follow-ups, Anywhere and Somewhere following in quick succession. He has now finished his fourth young adult novel.
He said: ‘I have always wanted to cover several different genres so I would describe my books as dystopian thrillers with elements of sci-fi and fantasy. I completed the first draft of Nowhere in about a month which was very quick, although the editing process was far more lengthy. I write in very intense periods as the words just flow and I sometimes forget to do things when I am writing. I spent 14 hours on my laptop once without moving!
‘I am definitely a more organic writer than a planner. I have a general idea of the plot and knew what the big mystery was and roughly how it would end and I let the rest come naturally. If you try and plot too much you end up abandoning a lot of the text in the editing process. As you are writing new ideas and new characters come to you so you have to be quite flexible.
‘The biggest thrill for me, as an author, is being able to go into your imagination and create something from nothing. It is my goal to be an author forever. I am really into film writing as well so I would quite like to do some screenplays. I have quite a visual imagination so the whole time I am imagining things very vividly almost like a film. Before I started a full novel I actually wrote some screenplays and that was quite useful tool for helping write a novel.
‘My advice to students who want to write is to read a lot, experiment with different styles, different perspectives and a different sense of voice. It is actually quite simple to write but we just tend to over complicate things. My problem has always been having too many ideas. If you actually start writing the ideas come naturally.
'A good approach, not just for writing, but for anything is to be absolutely 100 per cent single-minded on your goal, but also, at the same time, have room for flexibility. I was obsessed with becoming a writer, but I had been writing adult books and they had been rejected but by having that flexibility to change to young adult fiction I managed to make it happen. Be absolutely determined on your goal but also have a little wriggle room on the outcome.’