Jane Clarke Interview

Jane Clarke Interview
My next interview is Jane Clarke who as well as being a famous UK children's poet is also the author of the Gilbert the Great books and Dinosaur Cove. I'm very lucky to get her!
Jane: Hi Andrea, thanks for inviting me onto your website for this interview.
Andrea: How did your poetry writing get started?
Jane: When I started writing, about 10 years ago, some of my ideas popped out of my head in rhyme. I like the way a poem can be a joke, or create a picture or a feeling in just a few words. Rhyme can surprise you by leading you somewhere you didn't know you were going. I know the best poems often don't rhyme - so sometimes I try not to, but that's hard for me.
Andrea: Can we see a few poems please?
Jane: Here are two very short ones:

Dinosaur riddle

What's thick, green and slimy,
what writhes, squirms and gloops
as it crawls down your throat?
Primordial soup.
Losing it

Losing my chameleons
makes me lose my mind
camouflaged chameleons
are very hard to find.
Andrea: What's your favourite children's poem or book?
Jane: Aagh! That's cruel. I can't just choose one! It's hard enough to choose three:  Spike Milligans'  poem A Baby Sardine, Kenneth Graeme's Wind in the Willows and Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo.
Andrea: Where do you get your ideas from?
Jane: Often from things that have happened to me, my family, pets and friends. For example,  this one is about something that got me into trouble with my mum...

Dressing Up

When I dress up
I always feel
just like a queen
in Mum's high heels.
I like to look
my queenly best,
so I'll put on
Mum's new long dress.
Crown jewels next.
Now let me see
Where does Mum keep
her jewellery?
On royal lips,
the Queen next slicks
a nice thick layer
of Mum's lipstick.
Oh-oh! Here's Mum!
I fear the worst.
The Queen forgot
To ask Mum first.
Another example is our dog who regularly chews up my son Andrew's football gear:
My dog ate my shin pads
My dog ate my shin pads
and now I've none to wear.
He snuffled through my kit bag
and dragged them to his lair.
Underneath the table,
he licked them first, then sucked,
To make them nice and tasty
and soften up the muck.
He chewed and gnawed and nibbled
and now my pads won't fit.
They're mangled, pulped and soggy
and flecked with spitty bits.
My shins are bruised and battered,
but my dog doesn't care.
When he ate my shin pads
he wasn't playing fair.
And here's one inspired by my son Robert who is a snake enthusiast:

Snakes and Ladders
RattLesnake, Boomslang,
CobrA,Boa, Taipan,
DiamonD Back, Copperhead,
Upside-Down snake playing dead.
SnakEs that crush, snakes that bite,
HungRy snakes with appetites.
AdderS, Pythons, Fer-de-Lance.
Roll the dice and take a chance.

Andrea: You also write children's books -  can you tell us about them?
Jane: I love writing children's books, especially picture books -it's a challenge to make the text fun for the person who's reading them aloud, as well as for the listener. It's fantastic to see them come to life when an illustrator adds the pictures.
Andrea: What are your most successful books?
Jane: The 3 Gilbert books, beginning with Gilbert the Great illustrated by Charles Fuge(Gilbert's a great white shark - but he didn't eat your Grandma, Andrea, honest).
Knight Time illustrated by Jane Massey.
Stuck in the Mud,  illustrated by  Gary Parsons (it rhymes)
Creaky Castle, illustrated by Christyan Fox (it rhymes, too)
Plus a series called Dinosaur Cove that I help ghost write.
Andrea: What is a ghost writer? Are you a ghost?
Jane: No, I'm not a ghost. But thanks for the great idea for a story or a poem...    A ghost writer is someone who writes a book for another person. For example, Rex Stone is the name of the author of Dinosaur Cove, but there is no such person. The exciting storylines are thought up by a group called Working Partners and the ghost writers for the series turn them into books.
Andrea: What's your favourite Dinosaur Cove book and why?
Jane: Book 1, Attack of the Lizard King, because I'd just been chosen as lead writer on the series and it was fun to do the dinosaur research and bring to life the little dino who is the boys' companion in all the adventures. And the first book stars the awesome T-Rex!
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Andrea: Do you have any new books coming out soon?

Jane:  I do.  Dance Together Dinosaurs, a rhyming picture book illustrated by Lee Wildish comes out in January 2012.

Knight School, illustrated by Jane Massey, will be published in August 2012.
plus there will be at least one book in each of these ghost writing series: Dinosaur Cove, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and Little Sparkles...
Andrea: Do you visit schools?

Jane: Yes! Primary Schools. They're lots of fun to visit! I share stories and poems with the youngest and run poetry and/or story writing workshops with KS1 and KS2.
Andrea: How can people get in touch with you?
Jane: Use the 'contact me' page on my website www.jane-clarke.co.uk  and I'll reply.
Andrea: Please can we have one last poem.
Jane: Definitely!
Web of Life
An invisible web,
as fragile as dreams,
links mountains to valleys
and rivers to streams.
Through woodlands and forest;
Where seas flow and ebb,
Over ice caps and deserts,
Life weaves a great web.
From plankton to whales,
all life great and small
depends on each other.
Life's web links us all.
And we must take care
of each gossamer thread,
for we are all part of
this great world wide web.
Please note all Jane's poems are copyright - if you want to use or publish anything please email me (use the Contact Andrea page) for permission)
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