Malorie Blackman is an award-winning author and the current Children’s Laureate. Before becoming an author she trained in computer science and became a systems programmer, publishing her first book at the age of 28. She has since written over 60 books. Love Hurts, her anthology of stories for young adults and older,was published by Penguin Random House on 12 February. www.malorieblackman.co.uk Twitter: @malorieblackman
1. What was your biggest career break?
When my book Noughts and Crosses won the Red House FCBG Children’s Book Award (2002) and made the top 100 of the BBC Big Read list (at number 61) in 2003. Those two things happened in quick succession.
2. Have you had a notable mentor – and if so what was it about them that was so inspiring?
I never really had a mentor per se, but my children’s writing tutor Elizabeth Hawkins was instrumental in encouraging me to keep writing and her constant support and her constructive criticism of my work were invaluable.
3. What one piece of advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and don’t wait until tomorrow to do it. Do it now!
4. What qualities to do you look for in the people you work with?
Patience, perseverance, tenacity, a good sense of humour, initiative and common sense.
5. Who do you admire and why?
I admire anyone who is not afraid to speak out peaceably for what they believe to be right. I admire people like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali.
6. What does the future of your industry look like?
People will always need stories to help make sense of the world and their own lives. The delivery mechanism for these stories may change but that need will always remain – thank goodness! I do believe, however, that the publishing industry needs to be more active in embracing diversity.
7. If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you have done instead?
I started my working life as a computer programmer so maybe I’d still be part of that world. I like to think I would be running my own literary agency or publishing house if I hadn’t become a published writer.
8. What is your biggest extravagance?
My gadgets! I love gadgets.
9. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and why? (you can invite three people – they must be alive)
Barack Obama (he’d have a tale or two to tell), Oprah Winfrey (so would she) and Benedict Cumberbatch (he looks like he’d be a good laugh).
10. What do you do to relax away from work?
I play computer games and the piano (badly). I love going to the theatre, reading and watching films.
11. If you could change one thing about Britain today, what would it be?
I would make all big corporations pay their fair share of tax and use the extra revenue to improve the NHS, our education system and our public library service.
12. What would your last meal be? (please choose a starter, a main course and a pudding)
French onion soup, sea bass with mashed potatoes, carrots and peas and vanilla creme brûlée. And a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc to wash it all down.