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a school's welcome banner for Clive

Clive sometimes visits schools and writing groups to share his thoughts on writing and what it is like to do it for a living. His most recent visit was to a schools group in Yorkshire where Clive got a bit out of control and clambered all over the school desks. This wasnít the first time. This is a letter written after a visit in 2004.

A fax from Clive's mum

When he isnít climbing, juggling or generally mucking around, Clive likes to talk about writing, books and his life. Sometimes, people ask him to sign copies of his books that they already have Ė Clive NEVER takes books to sell with him. Thatís just money-grabbing!

Clive juggling
Clive prefers to come and answer questions rather than just give a talk. You see, he remembers what it was like to be seven, nine or eleven. At those ages, youíve got plenty to do what with homework and stuff. The last thing you need is yet another adult droning on and on and on.

Clive will try to answer any question and has a few stories to tell. He has written over 80 books including stories like Pants Attack! and The Water Puppets. He has travelled on the back of real-life robots, visited research labs in Britain and Japan to write books on planes, cars, spies and future technology. He has met famous players and coaches to write about football (soccer), basketball, cricket and other sports. He has been on telly when he was a teenager, been held at gunpoint in Colombia and ran a computer games company when he was 18 years old.

Clive signs Akihiro's baseball cap Super Close Up

Clive signed scraps of paper, childrenís and teachersí notebooks and some more unusual things as well. At Osaka International School, Akihiro Shimizu brought in his baseball cap and a special fabric pen for Clive to write with. Cool!

To see some of Cliveís books head to Latest Work

Writing To Thrill

Occasionally, Clive has given workshops on how to write in different ways including how to write to thrill. Writing scary passages of text isnít just for horror stories, it can be really handy for comic tales, romance, murder mysteries or action-adventures. Here, he shares with you some of the tips of the trade. Hereís the first set of tips.

No.1: The Scare Sandwich

Whatís the best part of a sandwich? If your Mumís like mine and uses stale bread, then it has to be the filling. The same is true of a scary story. The exciting bits are where the horror is at its highest and where readers are well and truly getting the creeps! But think about a tasty sausage sandwich. Without the boring bread bit, youíd just have a sausage which is nowhere as much fun. Itís the same with writing spinechilling stories.

The roll, whoops, sorry, the role, of the story either side of the very scary scenes is ever so important. Itís not just to pad out the gaps between frightening scenes. Far from it. It is where much of the real story is told to the reader. Why is your main character at the edge of the misty lake? What drew them there? Who may be looking for them? What rumours and legends are there said to be about the lake? Answering these sorts of questions will help build your story so that when something scary happens it really shocks the reader.

Few scary stories are any good without really strong characters. Spend lots of time and effort explaining your characters so that readers get a really good picture of them in their own minds. The more a reader feels they know and like a character, for example, the more they will fear for them as the story unfolds.

Read the first three chapters of The Phantom Thief by Pete Jackson for free at Stories From The Web.