Alanna Betambeau

My name is Alanna. I am a children’s author based in Bournemouth. I have written a chapter book trilogy for children aged 5-10 years. The 2nd book in the set, MOUSE and the City of Secrets, is due to be released in time for Christmas 2020.

I also write picture books for 3-6 year olds. So far my first book, Brother Butterfly, is available on Amazon and Waterstones online. I am in the process of self publishing 4 new picture books as we speak!

How long have you been writing for?
I have been writing my whole life. I always loved writing fictional stories as a child. It wasn’t until I became a mum in 2015 that I decided I wanted to write properly and explore the option of self publishing so that I could read my own books to my daughter.
What's the average word count for the books you write and how long does it take you to write your average book?
For a picture book, the average word count is 1000 words. On a good day I can write a picture book in just a night!
What is your writing routine?
It took me 3 years to write my first chapter book, MOUSE and the Mystery Box. I wrote some, then forgot about it for a while and had 2 children during that time. I wrote the second book in the trilogy, MOUSE and the City of Secrets, in 3 months. I pushed myself to write for an hour every night. For picture books I tend to wait to be inspired. I wrote one while at the park with my children recently!
How much do you research for a book before you start writing?
I don’t as such, but because I have children we have LOTS of books that we read and that helps me to research what works well in children’s books.
What do you find most difficult about writing a book?
I wish I could illustrate them myself. The hardest part really is finding an illustrator for the story. This takes time and money.
Which of your books are you most proud of? Why?
I’m proud of MOUSE and Mystery Box because it’s 12 chapters long. I’m very proud that I stuck with it! Even though I dipped in and out, I’m really happy with the finished product.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?
I still need to write the third and final book within my MOUSE trilogy. I think this is going to be the most difficult one to write because I really need the final book to be epic and not at all disappointing!
Which self-publishing platform do you like the most?
IngramSpark.
Would you publish with a traditional publisher if they contacted you? Why?
Yes. I would love the opportunity to work with a traditional publisher. It would save me a lot of money because they would pay for the illustrations. It would also be great to benefit from their expertise.
How many unfinished or unpublished works do you have?
20+ Unpublished picture books.
Do you prefer creating stand-alone books or series?
Stand alone. Less pressure for them all to be good! : )
What's one character you wish you would have created? What do you find compelling or interesting about this character?
I love Shirley Hughes’ Alfie books. I loved them as a child and now enjoy reading them to my own children. We love Alfie as a character and his little sister Annie-Rose.
Which book do you wish you would have written? Why?
I am a massive Harry Potter fan! The books are incredible and I would be very proud to have written them!
What does success as a writer look like for you?
When I hear that a child has loved reading one of my books that is the best feeling in the world!
Writing can be a lonely job. Do you take any special steps to ensure you remain part of the world?

I’m very much part of the world, both on social media, my friends and family. I actually enjoy the times I can sit and write and not be interrupted. Hence rising early is beneficial for this.

Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

Thankfully I’ve not received any bad ones yet!

I was told that my story, Brother Butterfly, was a little bit long for its target age. I took the comment on board and released a 2nd edition which is less ‘wordy’! It’s always important to listen to feedback.

Do you have a favourite author? A favourite book?
I love Julia Donaldson and Shirley Hughes.
Do you plot your stories in great detail before writing, or fly by the seat of your pants?
I plan chapter books but for picture books I very much see where the story takes me as I write it!
Of all the characters in your stories, who is your favourite?
Arthur the ladybird in my MOUSE trilogy. He’s a funny, sweet character. I actually named my son Arthur after using the name in one of my books.
Do you make a living selling your books?
By the time I’ve paid the illustrator I’m happy if I can break even.
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