02 May 2012

Q&A with Edwina Howard

The Ice-cream War was discovered by our intrepid Conductor on one of her expeditions into the Slush Pile (unfortunate industry slang for 'ever-growing mountain of unsolicited manuscripts'), a term that, in this particular case, is hilariously appropriate because this book is all about frozen goodies (slushies, geddit?).
Awkward punning aside, first-time author Edwina Howard is a rare find and so we thought you might like to find out a little bit more about her. We asked her the Omnibus Eleven Questions to get to the bottom of her genius.
How long did it take you to write The Ice-Cream War?
I guess it took about five years from the time the very first idea trickled into my head. But it only took about six months of solid work.
Do you procrastinate?
Well, I don’t think of it as procrastination exactly, but I have noticed that if you delay things for long enough they frequently either cease to need doing or you simply forget they ever needed doing.
Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer?
I am the Nite Riter! Remember me when you look at the night sky … (Sorry, that’s a rather sad Mad Max reference.)  I’m not so much of a morning person any more, probably because I do most of my writing late at night, hence creating a vicious-circle-type effect.
Where did you get the idea for The Ice-Cream War?
In my first ever writing notebook I wrote 'something about ice-cream' which seemed terribly cliched. I started asking a few what if questions, tried to turn it around a little, and it went from there. Jake simply came to life in my head, and I wanted an animal character who wasn’t remotely cutesy (as none of my animals ever are). It seemed like a fun thing to pull ice-cream around in an ice-cream cart. Plus I listened to the radio and they were talking about getting boys to read. I kind of thought, well, if it’s funny and fast moving it should be entertaining. Reading should be fun.
Have you ever had your own Shetland pony?
Sadly I have never owned a Shetland pony. I was lucky enough to own a very clever 13.2hh bay pony called Tommy who was incredibly cunning and always played plenty of tricks.  He had a particular way of peeking at you beneath from his forelock which is pure Hoppy.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I have always been terribly lazy. My stories have always taken place in my head. It took until my mid-thirties to start committing anything at all to paper!
What does your family think of your writing?
Sometimes they probably wish they could eat it. Dinner can be late at our house.
What are you reading at the moment?
I usually have a handful of books on the go. At the moment they are Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, Phillip K. Dick’s The Turning Wheel, Eyewitness to History (I never knew they saw a UFO on Apollo 11!), T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (illustrated by Axel Scheffler – which I appropriated from the children), and Roald Dahl’s The Twits (the whole thing about beards and with the glass eye always cracks me up).
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A dressage rider, a spy, a rock star, an actress and funnily enough I really wanted to do something with books.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Sadly I wish I could just write! But if you insist, I like sleeping too.  And reading. And spending time with my family (and other animals).
When was the last time you went on a bus?
I love buses!  There aren’t too many out here in the country though. I think the last bus I went on was a few months ago, and it was to the beach, which is a rather nice place to take a bus.

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