Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

An Interview with Kaye Umansky

14th December 2018


Our very own Toppsta reviewer, Kendra (age 7), concocted some fabulous interview questions for Kaye Umansky after reading her new book, Wish for a Witch. Here’s what she had to say:

What inspired you to write this book?
I love writing about witches. Wouldn't it be great to live in a moving tower and be able to do spells?  And I've always wanted a talking bird, like Corbett.  

Who is you favourite character in the book and why?
I am very fond of Elsie, who is sensible, helpful and above all, kind. She uses magic to do good. Magenta Sharp isn't that likeable, but I enjoyed making her up. She has a sharp tongue and a short temper, but that's witches for you. 

I love Nuisance....did you base him on a pet you had?
Nuisance is a favourite with me too. I have two cats in real life (called Heathcliff and Jeremy) but if I had a dog, it would be one just like him. He's scruffy and lovable and like me, adores sausages. 

Do you use real people you know as inspiration for the characters in the book?
I do listen to the way people talk and act around me, so that my made up characters come across as real. But I've never put a whole real person in a book.

Have you written any other books?
Ooh, lots and lots. I've been writing for over thirty years and have written about 140 titles. If you want to know more, you can look on my website (although, shamefully, it's not quite up to date!)

Did you always want to be an author?
I've always written as a hobby, but never thought I would end up as a real author with my name in print. I started making up stories as soon as I could write. There's nothing I would rather do.

How long did it take you to write the book?
About four months. Six, if you include all the re-writes. I do a lot of re-drafting.

How do you come up with the you start a book and the story develops or do you have the story mapped out before you start writing?
I wish I could plan more, but that never really works for me. I have a vague idea, then just plunge right in and make it up as I go along. Sometimes I go right off track and have to back peddle. It can be time consuming, working like this – but it's also quite exciting as I'm never quite sure what's round the next bend.

What advice would you give to children who enjoy writing stories?
Don't worry too much about finishing them. Finishing a story is the hardest bit. The important thing is to stay enthusiastic, so if you run out of steam, leave it and start something else. Just keep practising – and  carry around a little notebook and pencil for when you get a brilliant idea! you believe in MAGIC?
Oh my goodness, I certainly do. I wished to spend my life writing stories in a little blue room with a starry ceiling – and  look, it came true! If that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Kendra, what a wonderful lot of questions! I really enjoyed answering them. I'm so happy you enjoyed reading Wish For A Witch. I'm busy writing two more books about Elsie, which makes four altogether. I wonder if you will have any more questions for me when you read the next one? I do hope so!


An Interview with Kaye Umansky

Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky is out now. Even More Pongwiffy Stories by Kaye Umansky is out in January 2019!

An Interview with Kaye Umansky
Book pages Placeholder Book

Wish for a Witch

After her week living in Magenta Sharp 's magical tower, Elsie Pickles is back home and finding normal life a little dull. But when a magical gift leads her back to the Tower, Elsie knows mischief and marvellous magic are about to turn her life upside down again!

This time Magenta needs Elsie's help to save her magic licence and deal with a grumpy genie on the loose! Will it all prove too much for Elsie and her friends? Even a witch needs a wish every once in a while!

A magical adventure from Kaye Umansky, the bestselling author of the spellbinding children's classic Pongwiffy , brought to life with charming illustrations from rising star Ashley King !


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