A.R. Hetherington is a children’s fantasy writer born and raised in Northern Ireland, now living in the English countryside. Her captivating adventure books for the junior and middle-grade age range received great reviews from children, parents, and teachers. If you love time travel, fantastic creatures, quests, fearless friendships, magic and mystery, then head over to Amazon and check out her books. But before you do that, read our interview with Annelise.
BookBildr: You write fantasy fiction for children aged 7-10. Why that genre and that age range?
A.R.: It is the genre I really enjoy and I think it is a really important age for developing reading skills. Children have got past the basics and are really starting to enjoy reading for pleasure. So many great books out there for them, a great age to develop a life long love of reading.
Correct me if I’m wrong but for most people, the fantasy fiction for children space is monopolized by Harry Potter. Do you find it hard to compete? Or is there room for everyone?
That was a great series which I love too but there is still plenty of room! There are a lot of great authors I enjoy right now. You can never have too many fantastic stories!
As a teacher, what do you think children gain from reading adventure and quest books?
Team spirit, problem-solving, resilience and a lot of fun! Children learn about a great genre with suspense, drama and great characters which will stick with you forever. Plus it is pure escapism and that is a good thing in a world saturated with screen time. It feeds their imaginations and hopefully encourages creativity.
Your books are written using very rich language (I love your style). But these days children’s authors tend to simplify things too much. Why do you think they do that and what are the dangers of stripping the language that way?
I always try to upscale vocabulary when I can, children have a huge capacity for learning, look at all the dinosaur names they remember! As for your question, I don’t really have an answer for that and in some ways, anything that gets children to read can’t be a bad thing per se. I can only speak for my own books. I have read a lot of really inspiring books for this age group even this past year.
Your first two books are available as audiobooks. What are the benefits of the format?
Well, they really help a journey pass quickly! But also it is wonderful to hear a story read aloud even when kids can read for themselves and It is a great accompaniment for developing readers to listen while following. It is really fun to listen to and let your imagination create the pictures too.
In our chat, you mentioned that you’re working with an illustrator. What are the challenges of finding an illustrator and working with one?
Well, there are a lot of social media sites out there with plenty of contacts and advice. The writing and illustrating community is really supportive. I think it is personal preference as to style and fit with your work. It did take me a while but Corryn Webb is the illustrator I am working with and she is just brilliant interpreting character and adding little details. I can’t wait to share the illustrations with everyone!
Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing – which do you prefer and why?
I only know self-publishing so I can’t compare! Traditional publishing sounds fabulous in many ways, it seems like proper validation of your work. It’s not a fairy tale though as either way there is the big marketing push, which is the biggest learning curve. Self-publishing gives you control on the artwork and the narrative, which is really important.
What’s your advice to people who want to write for children but don’t know how to start?
Have a go, why not! One piece of advice I got was to finish what you start and that stuck in my head. No one is going to see it until you are ready so you have nothing to lose. Plus until you have a rough and ready script then there is nothing to edit. Scrivener is useful for Word and gives you lots of manuscript compiling options. But, watch out… it might take over your life!
What do you think about BookBildr?
It is really valuable to have support and exposure and really opens up the writing community. We all have tonnes of favourite books, both classic and modern but there are many more being written right now and BookBildr will help us discover them.
Thank you for all your questions! For more information visit my website at www.arhetherington.com or my Good Reads author page. Books and audio available on Amazon and Audible.