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Most Frequently Asked Questions

Children often email Justin with questions about himself, his books and his writing. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and Justin’s answers to them.

Q. What inspired you to become an author?

A. Books! Ever since I learned to read I REALLY loved books. So I started writing my own (they were comic books) when I was nine years old. Then I tried writing a novel when I was eleven or twelve, but I gave up after about 30 pages. But it didn’t put me off reading and writing, and in the back of my mind I decided I’d try writing more books when I was an adult. And that’s what happened!
I’m really lucky because what started as a hobby when I was a child became my job as an adult.

Q. Where do you get the ideas for your books?

A. Anything that interests me or catches my attention can lead to a story, a book or a sub-plot for a book. It could be an article I read in the newspaper, something interesting I see while I’m taking my dog for a walk, or even a line from a song. But the best ideas spring from my imagination. I’ll look at something quite ordinary and my brain will go ‘Ping!’ and turn it into a story idea.

Q. Do you write by hand or on a computer?

A. I always use a computer. I’m a compulsive rewriter and am always editing and changing bits that I wrote the day before, so if I wrote by hand I’d use about 10,000 sheets of paper to write a single book.

Q. How long does it take to write a book?

A. Usually about three months. My quickest book was Crocodile Attack, because it was SO exciting I couldn’t stop! It took six weeks. My slowest was Shaedow Master, which took fourteen and a half months.

Q. When do you write?

A. I write every weekday (unless I’m away visiting schools or libraries) from 8.00 am till 1.00 pm.

Q. Do you plan your books before you start writing them?

A. Mostly I don’t plan. When writing the Extreme Adventures series, for example, I simply decide where the action will take place, put Sam Fox into that setting, then make a list of all the dangerous creatures and scary things he might encounter there. After that, I work my way through the list, making Sam confront each life-threatening situation as it comes along. Poor Sam!

Q. Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favourite?

A. That’s like asking a parent who’s their favourite child. They’re all my favourites, for different reasons. But judging from the emails I get from readers, I’d say the Extreme Adventures are YOUR favourites.

Q. What’s your next book?

A. Check out my Coming Soon page.

Q. Do you base your characters on real people?

A. Never. But often I use characteristics of real people when developing characters.

Q. Where do you get your characters’ names?

A. Sometimes I use the first - or last - names of people I meet (though never both together) - if the names suit my characters.

Q. How did you become an author?

A. My first publications were cartoons and articles in motorbike magazines. Then I wrote an adults’ novel, called ‘The Initiate’ that was published in 1989. I started writing for children and young people in 1995. My first children’s book, ‘Infamous’, was published in 1996.

Q. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become an author?

A. Read, read, read, write, write, write. Being an author is just like any other job: you have to serve an apprenticeship. Never stop reading and never stop writing. It might take years before your first story is published, but the most important thing is you must enjoy writing them. If you don’t enjoy reading and writing you will never be an author.

Q. Who’s your favourite author?

A. I don’t have a single favourite author, I have hundreds! When you read as many books as I do it’s impossible to have a favourite. The author of every new book I read is my favourite until I finish it and start another one.

Q. Are there any other authors in your family?

A. My cousin, Ted Dawe, is a successful YA author in New Zealand.

Q. What are your hobbies?

A. Reading, bushwalking, seeing new places.

Q. How old are you?

A. I’ll be turning 115 on 4 October 2068. You’re all invited to the party.

Q. Where can I buy your books?

A. At any good book shop (and most bad ones, too). The problem with my books is they are so popular that they often get sold within a day or two of arriving in a book shop; so you’ll go to buy one and it won’t be there. Here’s what to do: simply go to the counter and ask the bookseller to order a copy for you - it’ll take about a week to arrive. But if you still have problems getting any of my books, email me on jd@justindath.com and I’ll let you know how to get hold of an autographed copy for LESS than you could buy it in a shop.

Q. Will you come to my school or library?

A. I’d love to! Go to School Visits and follow the prompts. (If I end up coming to your school because you got your teacher or librarian to arrange the visit, I’ll give you a free book.)

Justin's favourites

Favourite book by another author: The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.

Favourite food: Incredible Bean Pie.

Favourite fruit: Apple.

Favourite drink: Elephant Beer.

Favourite colour: Cerise.

Favourite movie: The Three Amigos.

Favourite TV show: Wildlife documentaries.

Favourite singer: Bruce Springsteen.

Favourite sport: Cycling.

Favourite day of the week: Saturday.

Favourite ice cream flavour: Pumpkin.

Least favourite ice cream flavour: Chocolate chilli.


Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures (TV Series)

Mission Fox (Puffin official website)

Copyright © Justin D'Ath 2005-21