School Visits by UK
Children's Author
Wolfren Riverstick

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As asked by children during school visits...

Is 'Wolfren Riverstick' your real name?

No... It's actually Wolfren Vesuvius Thunderhead Riverstick I (and I'm also an Overlord!)

Why did you call yourself 'Wolfren Riverstick'?

Phew! This is going to be a long answer - I hope you have time on your hands? Either way, here goes...

I really wanted something noticeable, you see. Something Lemony sounded good, but that one had been taken. So I thought about something similar, like Orangey Thicket, but that was too close. Then I remembered that I like wolves! 'Wolf' sounded too harsh to me as a first name, and 'Wolfgang' was too Germanic, so I thought about softening the prefix with 'ren' in order to make it sound nicer, like 'children'. Hence, 'WOLFREN' was born. Thinking of a last name was a bit trickier, however; but, whilst driving a truck one night - somewhere near Cork in the Republic of Ireland - I passed another truck heading in the opposite direction bearing my last-name-to-be! On the front of the cab, just above the windscreen, was a large illuminated sign with just one word, 'RIVERSTICK', and I knew straight away that I had found just what I was searching for...

Do you have any pets?

Sort of... I have always had cats, being a cat person, but my last cat, 'Dusty' (to whom my book 'A Cat Called Ian' is dedicated), passed away a few years back. However, my girlfriend has a dog, and, as his adopted stepfather, she now shares him with me. His name is 'Webster', he is a great character (most of the time) and is 98 years old in human years... One day I shall write a book about him too!

Why don't you have pictures or illustrations in your books?

Good question! Well, the main reason for not having illustrations or pictures in my books is because I believe that the words of a story should paint a picture in the reader's mind. For the age group that I write for (9-12 years) it should not be necessary to have illustrations, for children of such age will form their own image from their imagination. I have thought about this long and hard, to the extent that I sketched some characters from one of my books and used to display these at authors' events that I attended. However, following comments from children who told me that was not how they saw the characters, I took this off my display board because they aired obvious disappointment in seeing them from someone else's perspective. I conclude, therefore, that they are definitely unnecessary, particularly having seen so many books of late that are saturated with illustrations and largely lacking text! Another reason that I don't insert illustrations, though, is purely because illustrators cost money (although I am reasonably capable of doing my own), and then one has to start talking royalties as well.

Would you like your stories/books to be made into movies?

That would be very nice, thank you! I should imagine this would be every writer's dream if they were to be honest about it. Depends what you are in it for, I guess: if you're in it for the money, then selling film rights could make you a fortune; and if you're in it for the buzz of knowing that people love your stories, then a movie is the ideal platform to reach a wider audience and make more people aware of... well, certainly the title (unless it is changed), although not necessary the writer or the original storyline!

Have you always wanted to be a writer/author?

Not really! To be honest, I never knew what I really wanted to be throughout my life. I suppose I have had a connection with the print industry since I was a child, having owned a John Bull Printing Set when I was a kid, then winning a Petite typewriter in a raffle whilst at primary school. I also had a fascination with William Caxton - thought to be the first English person to be a printer, as well as introducing the first printing press to England - for some strange reason, and then I went on to apprentice as a printing compositor when I was 16 years of age. Motorcycles got in the way of things for most of my life (and great fun, as well as a fantastic lifestyle, it has been too), but I did dabble with writing during my 20s and 30s, although it wasn't until I was 40 years old that I finally got around to finishing my first full-length book... the one that I started ten years earlier, in fact, and still isn't printed! That's all history, though, as eight books down the line I obviously have the bug.

Do all of your books have cats in them/Why did you write about a cat?

Yes, they do, because I like cats! Whether a cat is the primary character in one of my stories, or whether a cat is merely mentioned, the word 'cat' appears in all of my stories... as do the words 'crimson' and 'drawstring'.

Who is your favourite author?

This is a difficult question for me to answer. When I was at primary school Enid Blyton was definitely my favourite author. In my early teens Edgar Rice Burroughs (the creator of 'Tarzan') was my fave. (These have obviously been influential to my writing because one or two people have likened me to them. However, I have also been told that I have developed my own style, which is good news, of course.) I would have to say that I don't have a favourite author nowadays, but one of the most outstanding authors I have read to date is a man called Brady Udall, although he is not really a children's author because he writes for a young adult and beyond readership. The books I read tend to be for all age groups, but I mostly read children's fantasy/fiction/adventure stories from a multitude of male and female writers.

Where do you get your ideas for stories and characters?

My ideas just come out of nowhere, to be honest. Generally, I merely have a title for a book in my head and then create a story based around that. Therefore, it is nothing more than a vague idea to begin with (and I suppose most stories must start out like that) but it does develop and grow from there. Inspiration for settings and descriptive passages come from places I have been fortunate enough to visit, whilst characters are based upon people that I have met during life's journey.