Year 5 Interview Rachel Delahaye
Mrs Canning’s English set were very excited to be given the opportunity to interview Rachel Delahaye, author of the Jim Reaper series. We worked in groups to come up with questions, thinking carefully about the responses we wanted and making sure to avoid repetition. We then voted on whether we wanted to ‘Kill or Keep’ each question until we narrowed it down to five ‘killer’ questions. After sending our questions, we only had to wait a few hours for super-speedy Rachel to get back to us. We loved hearing her responses—she is very funny and made us laugh lots! We have ordered some Jim Reaper books for our bookshelf and can’t wait to read them.
How many times did you have to redraft your first book before it was published?I had to redraft it twice. The first time was after my agent read it (an agent is a person who works for the author and tries to persuade a publisher to buy the author’s book). My agent is called Alice and she’s super cool. Anyway, super cool Alice suggested that my book could do with more action and more mystery, so I made that by sending Jim and Will on missions… You’ll have to read the book to find out what those missions were… The second draft made the book double in size! The publisher loved the story but wanted it to be a lot chunkie with more characters. Originally, Jim didn’t have a sister and we never met Will’s family! I’m very glad I was asked to create more characters, because Hettie is bonkers and brilliant, and I think she’s one of the best things about Jim Reaper. Writing her was really fun – I just had to imagine how to be naughty and get away with it. And Will’s mum, who loves dancing round the house and cooking pizza … Well, what’s not to love about her? She’s full of fun and full of life, and we could all do with being a bit more like her sometimes. Anyway (I do talk a lot, don’t I!) – after the second draft, there was no more big writing to be done, just little changes such as making sure there weren’t so many swear words! Did you like writing when you were a child? I DID like writing when I was a child, and I wrote lots of little stories, but it wasn’t my favourite thing to do. I really, really, really wanted to be an actress, so I spent a lot of time prancing about in fancy dress and pretending to walk down red carpets to collect big acting prizes. I was skipping ahead a bit wasn’t I – I think you have to actually be in a play before you can get a prize! But I did try hard to teach myself acting skills, mainly by pulling faces at myself in the mirror and making silly voices and accents. Even though I never did go on the stage, I think all that prancing about helped my writing, because when I write my characters now, I can hear their voices in my head (I sometimes speak aloud as I’m typing!) and I actually see the story in my mind as if it were a film or a play. I’m still not the leading part, though! Perhaps one day, I’ll be the star.
If you could step into any book, which one would it be and why?
When I was young, I loved fantasy books and I was obsessed with a series called The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. A lot of it is based on mythology and legends, like King Arthur. It’s about the battle between light and dark, and how ordinary kids are the ones with the gift to defeat evil… I would definitely step into an adventure like this. It’s so gripping and powerful. I think I’d be very scared, but it would be fascinating tosee how brave I would be in the face of danger, and if I could rise to the challenge if the survival of the world depended on me! Where is your favourite place to sit and read? I will sit and read anywhere. An armchair is generally the best place, or on the sofa with my dog next to me with his head in my lap. That’s cosy. But I think the BEST place to read is under the bed or under the covers or in a corner away from distractions. Then you can pretend that you’ve entered a secret world where no one can reach you – and when you open a book that’s exactly what you’re doing. There is something magical about hiding somewhere and diving into a book. In fact, Ithink I’ll start doing that again. Where shall I hide, do you think? In the garden under a hedge? Or perhaps behind the rubbish bins out the front… Hmmm. I’m going to try some places out.
Are you planning to write new books?
YES YES YES! I am always writing. I have a very exciting series coming out next year called Mort The Meek – it’s about a boy who is a pacifist (that means he doesn’t believe in violence under any circumstances)… but the only trouble is, he lives on Brutalia, the most horrid, violent island in the Salty Sea… and he’s just been made Chief Executioner! *Scream loudly right now*! Don’t worry, it’s not scary. It’s a comedy, fully of extremely silly characters and lots of jokes and no blood at all, I promise you. That’s all gone to the printers so you will see Mort the Meek very soon. In the meantime, I’m writing a book which is set in the future, where most of the world is under water, apart from a paradise island which is ruled by some very special creatures! I know – cool, right? I hope that one day I’ll be able to tell you that it’s being published, but being a writer is hard, and even really good stories sometimes don’t make it into bookshops. But I’ll keep writing. I’ll probably never stop.