Anne Fine

Biography

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Anne Fine is a multi award-winning novelist, and was Children’s Laureate from 2001-2003. Her novels range from the wickedly funny Diary of a Killer Cat for young readers, to the provocative_Road of Bones_ for teenage readers.

Speaking about her work, Anne says: “A lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises quite serious social issues. I believe that many personal decisions have a social or political resonance, and the way people try to pick their way through tricky family situations interests me. But people won’t (and shouldn’t) read books that don’t hold their interest, and I still adore funny books. So since I write for the reader inside myself, I always end up with the kind of book I would have loved to read (if only someone else had bothered to write for me.”

More about Anne: “When I was young, it never occurred to me that I might be a writer. I think I must have thought that books were born on the library shelves. But I was good at writing stories, and I had a good deal of practice.

At school, I enjoyed languages most, and took French and Spanish, along with History, for A levels. That meant there was no room for English, and so for my whole life I have been able simply to read what I want when I want, and only for pleasure or interest. I suspect that this has been really important for the way I write, making it so much easier to think always of the reader.

I studied Politics and History at University, and the interest in political issues shows up in many of the books. After university I taught in a girls’ secondary school for a year — exhausting! — and then moved with my husband to Oxford, where I worked as an Information Officer for Oxfam. Though I was only in this job for two years, it changed my attitudes to money, to ‘things’, and to what is truly important in life, for ever.

In 1971 my first daughter was born. Unable to get to the library in a snowstorm to change my library books, in desperation I sat down and started to write a novel. Clearly this was the right job for me, for I have never stopped writing for more than a few weeks since.

My husband’s job took us to California, Arizona, Michigan and Canada, where our second daughter was born. In 1981 I returned to Edinburgh, and a few years later moved to County Durham, where I now live quietly in a stone house beside a river with Richard, my partner of fifteen years.”

Books by Anne Fine

Packs featuring Anne Fine

  • Bill's New Frock x 6

    Bill's New Frock x 6

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Series by Anne Fine

  • Blue Bananas

    Blue Bananas

    An appetising series for developing readers from Egmont’s popular structured reading scheme. Zappy, funny and quirky, these books feature stories from some of the nation’s best-loved authors. Just watch your readers go bananas for them!

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  • Colour Young Puffin

    Colour Young Puffin

    How do you inspire young readers to tackle new challenges once they’ve mastered the basics? Just try Colour Young Puffin! Featuring fresh, funny read-alone adventures with all the excitement of picture books, these books will soon get gobbled up!

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Awards won by Anne Fine

Anne was the Children’s Laureate 2001-2003, and was twice the British Book Awards Children’s Author of the Year in 1990 and 1993. She has won many prestigious awards, including both the Carnegie and Whitbread for Flour Babies, the Carnegie and Guardian for Goggle Eyes and the Whitbread for The Tulip Touch.

Interview with Anne Fine

What was your favourite book as a child?

The Just William books by Richmal Crompton were my favourites when I was between eight and 12. I lived in their imaginary world almost more than I lived in my own, and William became my imaginary brother.

When you were growing up did you have books in your home?

Yes, my grandfather and my father were great readers. There were five of us children (the last three were triplets) and my parents didn’t have much money so they bought furniture from auctions. And if you bought a bookcase, it came with the books! So we had a wide selection of strange books. My mother also gave me a lot of freedom, so I would often go to the library near our house.

Was there someone who got you interested in writing?

We did a lot creative writing at school. We were sat down to write a story, in quiet, at least twice a week. They don’t do creative writing in school now. It is an absolute tragedy.

What made you want to write when you were starting out?

I was perfectly happy as a reader but one day, I was at home with my baby and I couldn’t get to the library. I was bored, so I sat down and started to write a book.

Do you find writing easy?

No. I sit there, like everybody else, chewing over the pencil and getting stuck and thinking, ‘How am I going to get out of this?’ Sometimes it comes in floods and then I go back and tinker with it for six weeks. It is satisfying and absorbing, but not easy.

What makes you write now?

The germ of the book comes and then I don’t have any choice – I am not satisfied until it is finished!

How do you write? Do you have a daily routine?

It’s almost impossible to have a routine because children’s authors are seen as an educational resource, so there is quite a lot we have to do. And there is my family, so I cannot be precious and say I must sit down at my desk at nine but I do work as often as I can, which is almost every day. I don’t distinguish between the week and weekends and I work much better in the morning.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Firstly, Muriel Spark said you should write a book as if no one you know will ever read it. Secondly, you should never share your book with your partner. They are the worst people to advise you. And finally, Philip Larkin said, “Write the book you would most like to read, that no one else has written.”