Author Q&A with Sharon Cohen author of The Starman and Me

31st October 2017

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We ran a giveaway for The Starman and Me earlier this year and one lucky reviewer Bella (age 10) won the opportunity to ask the author Sharon Cohen 10 questions. Read on to discover more about Sharon and the inspiration for Rorty and The Starman and Me.

1. Did you alway want to be a writer?  

I think that rather than wanting to be a writer, I became a writer because that's what I naturally found myself doing. Also, when I was 9 years old, my dad typed out a short paragraph that I wrote about horses in the sea and that made me feel very proud of myself!

2. How old were you when you started writing stories?   

I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first started to write short stories. I made some into little books, held together with staples. We were encouraged at school to write stories and I used to let my imagination fly and write pages and pages. I still have quite a few of these stories in my old school books. I am hoping to put some of these on my website (which is still being planned at the moment).

3. Why did you choose to write a book for children?

All the ideas that I think of, are ideas for children's stories. This is probably because I have read hundreds of children's books and I absolutely love them! 

4. Will you be writing any more stories about Rorty? Or any different books?

I would love to write another story about Rorty. I think his special powers could be used to do good things in the world. My next book, however, is about someone completely different and will be published next year. 

5. Where did you find inspiration to write The Starman and Me, especially about Rorty being an ancient creature?

I love this question! My background is in science and I read about two scientific stories that I thought were very exciting, and mixed them together. One story was about the first time a brain chip was implanted in a human (these devices are used to help people who cannot speak and have lost the use of their arms and legs). The second story was about the discovery of some small human-like skeletons on an island in Indonesia. These little 'hominins' were alive at the same time as some of the first human beings (Homo sapiens), and I wondered what would happen if we found some of them still alive today.

6. How did you decided what to name the characters? Rorty and Pogsy are definitely not everyday names.

Rorty's name came from a word which we don't often hear, 'rorty', which means 'boisterous and high-spirited'. I thought this described Rorty's personality when he is happy and free. I made up Pogsy's name because it is what came into my mind when I imagined her.

7. How long did The Starman and Me take to write?

I had the ideas for this story many years ago and wrote it, little by little, when I had the time. I always wanted to have a book published and one day, I sent it to a literary agency who wrote back and said they loved it! Now I am a full-time writer, stories usually take about 12 months to write.

8. What is your favourite part of the story?

This is the most difficult question so far! But if I have to choose, it would be when Kofi and Sumo are charging along on the motorbike and Rorty shrinks the helicopter. I don't think Rorty really believed he could do that! Also, when Sumo is eating baked beans on toast at Kofi's house and they start to become friends.

9. What sort of books did you read as a child or if you have children what do you read with them?

I absolutely loved books when I was a child and I used to read all the time to my children. I loved all types of books when I was young - adventures in the real world by authors such as Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Little Princess; The Secret Garden); but I particularly enjoyed adventures in a magical world by CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), and by E. Nesbit (Five Children and It, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, The Story of the Amulet, The Phoenix and the Carpet). As for the books I read to my children, there are too many to name. Perhaps I will take a photo of my bookshelves and put it on my website so you can see.

10. What do you think makes a good story?

I think that the characters have to be believable so that the reader really cares about them, and the plot is so good that the reader can hardly bear to put down the book until they've read the last page.

Book pages Placeholder Book

The Starman and Me by Sharon Cohen

Our prehistoric ancestors have crashed headlong into the 21st century and time is running out to save them...THE STARMAN AND ME explores where we have come from and where we are moving to - it's about the magic of DNA, the power of identity, and the importance of caring for each other.

The Starman and Me is published by Hachette Children's Group.

Author image copyright Alix Marina-Chouhan at Lumiere Photography

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