A warm Writers’ Checklist welcome to author Paul Norris. Paul, a teacher by day, tells us about his exciting new children’s book, Ocean Ranger One, an experimental scientific submarine.
How did you come up with the idea for Ocean Ranger One?
I wanted to write an exciting adventure story for children, which had a good, responsible message without being too preachy. I grew up with a fascination for undersea exploration, probably thanks to those old Jacques Cousteau documentaries on TV, and I’ve always had a love of the ocean. It all just seemed to fall into place when I realised that it could be a really good way of approaching my work as a teacher.
Are any of the characters based on people you know?
No, not really, although I have stolen names for my characters from one or two people I have encountered in life. I think it’s fair to say that they are all composites of various people, and each one was a sort of collage which created the effect I was trying to achieve. Rosie’s definitely my favourite out of all of them…
Are you planning a sequel?
Oh yes! I deliberately left this book with an opening for a follow up, and I’m well under way with it. In the next one, the submarine makes a trip under the polar ice cap to highlight the effects of climate change and, inevitably, there’s more intrigue and suspense surrounding that: the bad guys who are trying to stop them just won’t go away.
What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
At risk of sounding immodest, I like to think that I’ve got a lot of background knowledge, which helps me to just get on and write without having to continually stop to check details (I do check, but only after I’ve written something). I also feel that I can write without agonising over it too much – I just do it. I sit there at my laptop and the words flow. If I have a weakness, it’s that I really have to be in the mood, which isn’t always convenient if you’ve got other things to do when ‘the muse’ is with you.
Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks?
No actual routine. As I’ve said, I have to be in the mood. It really helps to have a very understanding wife who recognises when I need to be able to just get on with it. Wish my employers were that obliging…
Is there a special place you like to write?
Yes, I have a summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. I’ve fitted it out with a power supply, stereo, carpet, desk, chair, and shelves for my reference material. It’s very cosy, and it means I can get on with writing without distraction. I got the idea from Alan Titchmarsh, who has something similar.
What are you working on at the moment?
In addition to the follow up to this book, which is called Ocean Ranger One: Arctic Assignment, I’m preparing an education pack for teachers to use. I’m also working on a long-term project, born out of work I did for my Masters degree, which is a mathematics intervention programme for primary school pupils.
Which three words best describe you?
English, gentleman, adventurer.
Paul Norris is a writer, educationalist and amateur adventurer. When he isn't creating stories, or devising new ways to teach maths, he might well be found diving on a barracuda infested shipwreck or competing in an international fencing tournament. He currently lives in Norfolk with his lovely wife, Claire, and a black labrador called Barney.