Bio & News

Bio & News



Just begun to write a 'blog' which I am posting on this website and also on my Facebook author 'Page' which is called Andrea Shavick - Author & Poet.

The purpose is to discuss interesting topics mostly on the theme of writing, getting published, book trade news and also to hopefully dispel a few silly myths about writers. 

Find my blog on this website here. 

Andrea's on Facebook - type in Andrea Shavick - Author & Poet
If you can 'like' my page that will be great!


Andrea is a Londoner and she's been writing books and poetry for about 19 years. Here’s what she says about her early writing career and how she got started:

"When I was at school I had no idea I wanted to be a writer, however I loved reading, especially fiction. Later on I had a marketing job which required me to write reports and I was most enthusiastic about it. Whereas my colleagues had to be bullied by the boss to hand in their half-page efforts, I absolutely relished turning in at least 20 pages a week.
My next job was for a newspaper, designing advertisements for clients. Writing advertising copy (which means persuading the world to buy your client’s product or service) certainly was an excellent grounding for fiction writing!
My very first story for children was The Truth About Babies. I was busy complaining to a friend about the ridiculously stupid things people say to children who are about to acquire a new baby brother or sister. Things like, 'You’ll have somebody to play with,’ and, 'Your new brother will be SO EXCITING!' But the truth is new babies can't play with anyone - all they do is cry, sick up, fill their nappies (diapers) and keep you awake at night!
My friend suggested that I put my thoughts down on paper because she thought it might make a good children's picture book text. She then encouraged me to submit my story to a few children's publishers, and it wasn't long before Oxford University Press bought the story, as well as the book's follow-up, The Truth About Families. I think the text worked because I felt strongly about the subject, and those feelings shone through. The most effective stories are always those where the writer has something very definite and meaningful to say.
In fact, many writers say that when you feel strongly about something, the words and ideas seem to burst out. My most successful picture book You'll Soon Grow Alex is another examples of a picture book that virtually wrote itself because I knew instinctively what I wanted to say. Unfortunately, eureka moments like that don't come very often - I wish they did!

Once a children's book has been accepted by a publisher, there is usually a very long wait before it actually appears in the shops. The Truth About Babies took over five years from idea to a real hard-copy book! Stop Elephant Stop! was accepted for publication in July 2001 but not published until 2004 - a three year wait. A picture book editor once told me that I was too impatient to be a children's writer and she was right! One of the reasons I love writing non-fiction for adults is the speed of the process; you produce a book, and four months later it's in the shops!
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For those of you who would like to try your hand at writing picture book fiction for children, take a look at my book How to Write a Children’s Picture Book and Get it Published, available from Amazon and all good bookshops. The book was first published in 2011 and has attracted wildly enthusiastic reviews (and I've had several readers tell me that having followed my guidelines, their own picture book has now been accepted for publication). In February 2016, a brand new edition of the book was published by Little,Brown. One of the things I am very proud of about this book is that it includes my unique Plot Planner which shows you how to lay out your story in a compelling and publishable way. It also includes comprehensive information about how to create believable characters, what to write about (and what to avoid), and of course, what publishers really, really want. In my view it's important for people to share their experience and knowledge, and with this book I feel like I've succeeded.

One of my longest-selling books is a biography of Roald Dahl for children aged approximately 7 - 12. Roald Dahl – True Lives has sold consistently from the late nineties and is still going strong all around the world and especially in the USA and Australia. The book has also been used as an exam text in Wales.

The interesting thing about my Dahl biography is that whereas most publishers expect a writer to produce text and nothing else, Oxford University Press asked me to produce a 'picture brief' as well. A picture brief is a page-by-page description of a book detailing exactly where all the illustrations (and what they show) should be placed on the page. Not being able to draw anything other than stick-people pictures I found this pretty difficult, but it was worth the the effort because I am now able to bring the entire project with me when I visit schools. I've found that children from 10 years old and over are fascinated to see the way a book is transformed from idea to finished product.
And they also love it when I show them the text I originally submitted to the publisher. To my absolute horror, Oxford University Press returned my original text to me with every one of the 20 pages completely covered in horrible (but all valid!) criticisms from the editor. Children love that - not only does it illustrate the amount of work required from an author it also makes them feel better about themselves whenever their teacher scribbles a critical comment on their homework!

The very first time I went on a school visit I was only expecting to talk to a single class of around 30 children. But when I arrived I found myself standing on the stage in the main school hall. To my horror the entire school filed in and sat down. Imagine 350 children and 12 teachers all staring at you, expecting you to entertain them! It was a very scary moment!
I think the Head Teacher must have read my mind because just as I was debating whether I should make a run for it, she kindly offered me a glass of water. One of the children was dispatched to fetch it and returned a few seconds later. As he handed the glass to me I did the worst possible thing anyone could ever do in front of an entire school audience - I dropped the glass onto the Head Teacher’s foot! We both screamed. There was water everywhere and the poor lady's shoes were ruined. And the entire school burst out laughing. At that point I realised that things couldn’t possibly get any worse so I began to relax and enjoy myself.
My children’s poetry writing took off after I attended a creative writing course. The fantastic children's poet, Mike Johnson, was my tutor, and he encouraged me to submit poems to one of the biggest children’s poetry publishers in the world: PanMacmillan. They accepted Auntie Betty Thinks She’s Batgirl which I'd written about my real live Auntie Betty, and from that moment on nobody could stop me writing poems for children.
Lots of children ask me exactly where I write, and the answer is: usually straight onto my laptop. However the best poems get written in the bath, although they can get a bit wet! I also regularly visit the ideas shop in Brighton - the one poet Roger Stevens talks about in his guest poet interview and on his website the Poetry Zone. 
My non-fiction writing began because (as explained above) I'm not too keen on having to wait what could be several years for an accepted picture book text to actually be published. That's why I've written books on psychometric testing and job-hunting, poker, credit management and, as mentioned above, How to Write a Children's Picture Book and Get it Published . 
On this website you can see all the books and articles I've written plus a good selection of my children's poems. You can also read poems written by young people and teenagers from around the world via the top page in my poetry section. 
Remember to 'like' my Facebook Page by hitting the 'like' button on the left-hand side of this page. On Facebook simply search for 'Andrea Shavick - Author & Poet' 
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