Malorie Blackman: The Children's Laureate talks writer's block, Noel Gallagher and being a warlock


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The Independent Culture

I go to great pains to make sure children don't think I'm just another teacher Part of my job as Children's Laureate is to visit schools and talk about my love of books and stories, and encourage them all to do it as well – to read, to write, to never be afraid of their own voice. Because we all have something to say.

Books are my first love I started reading seriously at seven or eight, books about myths and legends, the Narnia series… By the time I was 11, I had read all the children's books in my local library, so I moved on to Jane Eyre. What I loved about Jane Eyre was that she didn't rely on her looks but her character. She had a spirit nobody could break.

We need to save our libraries I know we are living in austere times, and the authorities have to make savings somewhere, but the damage done in decimating our library service will affect not just this generation but future generations, too. It might seem an easy saving now, but we will pay for it in the long run.

I was never sporty as a child I didn't mind tennis, rounders – summer games – but I hated hockey and netball. So I'd disappear into the school library. I suppose I've always lived in my own head. I didn't discover boys till sixth form. Then suddenly it was, "Oh! Boys!"

Noel Gallagher is missing out He's said that reading fiction is a waste of time. Presumably he never came across books that moved him – and that's a real shame. But as a songwriter he is doing the same as an author, even in something such as "Wonderwall". He is telling a story, evoking an emotion. He is entitled to his point of view, of course, but I think he's missing out on a lot.

I never thought I'd be a role model I just wanted to write stories, and I wanted to write books that had black characters in them, but that had nothing to do with race. I believe we need more culturally diverse books – about disabled characters, though not about their disability, about people with different sexual orientations, or a boy who is a cross-dresser. We need to reflect the diversity of our society.

To succeed, you need discipline If, for example, you want to be a writer, you need to apply your bum to the chair, and get on with it. Everyone has ideas, but it's all about perseverance. I wrote about eight or nine books and had 82 rejections before I first got published, but there was no way I was ever going to give up.

I'm a druid! Sometimes, a warlock. I love being both in World of Warcraft – it's my favourite computer game. I give myself half-an-hour at lunchtime to play, and perhaps longer in the evening. It is very addictive, though, so I have to remind myself that computer games don't pay the bills.

I find It's so important to Revel in the arts About four years ago now, I had a serious case of writer's block. I thought my career was over. So I decided to do other creative things in the hope of getting my own creative juices flowing again. I started piano lessons, I went to art galleries, museums, the theatre. It worked. It got me back writing. I was very relieved.

You must never let your brain atrophy Every year my husband and I take a course in something. He's done quantum physics, maths, Latin; I've done Chinese, drumming, music production. Why? Because it's important to exercise your brain. It's a lot of fun, too.

Malorie Blackman, 51, is the Waterstones Children's Laureate from 2013 to 2015. Her latest novel, 'Noble Conflict', is published by Doubleday, priced £12.99