This week, I was fortunate enough to interview Mark Elvy, who is the author of the popular Fluke & Tash children’s book series.
As you’ll see from the Q&As below, Mark offers some invaluable advice for budding authors – as well as giving the story behind his stories!
Hi Mark – please can you tell me a little about your background?
I was born in Aylesbury, had various jobs over the years, but hadn’t found ‘THE’ job that I adored until I took up writing. My aim is to try, try and keep trying to make a successful career out of the written word.
How did you get into writing children’s books?
I’ve always loved reading from an early age, and was hooked on a series of Adventure books by Willard Price. I want to recreate the enjoyment I got, by writing my own adventure stories for others to enjoy.
Can you tell me how you came up with the idea of your lead characters Fluke & Tash?
Fluke & Tash are based on my dog and cat. Most people with pets always wonder what they get up too when out for the day. Well, mystery solved! Fluke & Tash discover a dusty old magic suitcase capable of time travel hidden at the back of the wardrobe. (If you’ve got pets, I’d probably check your wardrobes and cupboards… you just never know!)
What challenges did you have completing your first book?
Doubting myself! Was the book good enough? I mean the idea of writing a book sounds great, but seriously, who’s going to want to read something I’ve written! Also time and energy. Sometimes after work, you just don’t feel like writing, but thankfully you get over that hurdle and press on.
You went down the self-publishing route. How’s that been for you?
Very enjoyable. I was lucky to find a great company to help which didn’t cost the earth. There are negatives, of course, such as costs and marketing yourself on a shoestring budget, but overall I would recommend self-publishing. If you’re considering it, then buy the Writing Magazine and the Writers & Artists Yearbook, both of which are packed full of helpful advice.
Your Fluke & Tash series now consists of four titles. How do you keep coming up with the stories?
As my books are history-based, the possibilities are nearly endless. I looked at the school curriculum for the Egyptian and Ancient Greece Adventures, and always ask for some input from the children. Where would they go if they had a magic, time travelling suitcase? What adventure do they want Fluke & Tash to go on next?
Your books are beautifully illustrated by Stuart Trotter. What’s your process for working with him?
Stuart’s amazing, very talented indeed. I provide some ideas for the illustrations, and Stuart comes back with his ideas as well. It works really well. Once the drawings are finished, and before going to print, I send him the back of book synopsis and ISBN number.
What advice would you give to someone dreaming of becoming a children’s author?
Believe in yourself, write about what you enjoy, and write every day. You may only write a few words a day, but once you get into the habit of writing it becomes second nature. Buy writing magazines, you’ll soon realise how many people are in the same boat, and it’s great to share experiences.
Finally, I’d love to hear your writing plans and goals for the future.
I have an idea to write a whole box set of Fluke & Tash Adventures. Books to look out for in the future could be a Pirate Adventure, Wild West Adventure, Roman Adventure, Ancient China Adventure, etc. Where would your readers like Fluke & Tash to go next?
Also, one day soon, I want to try my hand at writing a grown-up book, maybe a horror or thriller. One thing at a time though. And for now, more Fluke & Tash to follow…
You can find out more about Fluke & Tash and their amazing adventures by visiting their home page. (You can also order the books from there). Mark will also be showcasing his books at several events this year, including the prestigious WhizzFizzFest children’s literature festival.
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to Mark for his time. I really appreciate him sharing his valuable insights into writing and publishing children’s books.