Frequently Asked Questions
Please read these before contacting Michelle.
Do you visit schools?
Yes. I have given many talks and creative writing workshops in schools and festivals all over the UK, in which I talk about my life as a writer including my inspirations and path to getting published, including prizes and giveaways, and of course your chance to purchase signed books. I read from my work, take questions and make the sessions as interactive as possible. My workshops are usually focused on creating characters or penning a thrilling story opening. Like the vast majority of authors that visit schools I do charge for my time, as it involves planning and time away from my writing. If you are a teacher or librarian and would like to enquire about a visit, please email me via the contact page for more details.
Are you available on the Patron of Reading Scheme?
I am currently available, yes. Due to having a young son I am looking to team up with a school in Essex, as locally as possible. The Patron of Reading scheme is designed to pair an author with a school for a period of time (between 1-3 years) during which you build a special relationship and the author works with the schools to encourage and promote a love of reading for pleasure, the benefits of which are huge. To find out more about this scheme, please visit www.patronofreading.co.uk and contact Jon Biddle in the first instance.
What’s the order of the ’13 Treasures’ series?
- The 13 Treasures
- The 13 Curses
- The 13 Secrets
One Wish is a prequel that can be read independently of the trilogy.
Will there be another book in the ’13 Treasures’ series?
I’d never say never, but for now I want to focus on other ideas.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second Midnight Magic story (for age 6+), and about to start another middle grade (9-12) story which I can’t give details on yet, but am very excited about . . .
Will you make a movie or TV series of The 13 Treasures? Can I be in it?
Making a movie isn’t something I can do personally because I am not a film producer. For there to be a movie of any of my books it would need a film studio to buy the rights to make it. Though there have been several interested parties, the rights remain available but, should they sell, it’s unlikely I’d have any say in who gets parts.
I have a great idea for another 13 Treasures book. Can I send it to you?
I get many, many emails and letters from readers who want to share their ideas with me, usually relating to sequels to the ’13’ books. Some of these ideas are nothing short of brilliant and I’ve been hugely impressed with them, as well as the generosity of the person sharing it. I feel lucky to have fans like you! HOWEVER . . . I really can’t use these ideas, even if they’ve come from ideas/characters I originated. Firstly for legal reasons (see more about this below, on me reading unpublished work). Secondly, for moral reasons. I’m a writer because I love coming up with ideas and figuring out plot twists. I would feel very, very uncomfortable (and wouldn’t be a very good writer) if I used someone else’s ideas. What I would love is if you took these ideas and used them to create stories of your own. Ideas are special and unique to you – use them well.
Do you mind if I write stories using your characters/settings (fan fiction)?
No, I don’t mind as long as it’s for your own entertainment and not for profit. Please note that I cannot read any fan fiction, however.
Can you recommend any books that are similar to your stories?
Yes! All of the following are among my favourite books. For fans of 13 Treasures and One Wish I highly recommend:
- The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn
- The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
- Poison by Chris Wooding
If you enjoyed Unrest then try:
- Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann
- The Everafter by Amy Huntley
- Ghost of a Chance by Rhiannon Lassiter
- Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
If you enjoyed The Other Alice:
• Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
• Bad Blood by Rhiannon Lassiter
My favourite books:
Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker
The ‘Squishy McFluff’ series by Pip Jones and Ella Okstad
The ‘Pongwiffy’ stories by Kaye Umansky
Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams
Amelia Jane/Malory Towers/St. Clere’s series by Enid Blyton
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Snow Sister by Emma Carroll
The Witches by Roald Dahl
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
Murder Most Unladylike (series) by Robin Stevens
For young adults:
The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn (I know I mentioned this above, but it really is one of my favourite books – EVER)
Torn by Cat Clarke
Birdy by Jess Valance
The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan
The Haunting and Frozen Charlotte (and actually anything) by Alex Bell
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Wideacre by Philippa Gregory
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and why?
I’ve always loved stories, and I soon found that it was as much fun telling them as well as reading them. I started writing short stories when I was about fourteen, and by the time I left school I knew I wanted to be an author and illustrator.
Where did you get your ideas for The 13 Treasures from?
Lots of places. I based the character of Tanya on my niece, who, according to a fortune-teller, would grow up to be psychic. I became interested in fairies after studying them in art at college, which gave me the idea of a girl who has the ability to see fairies.
Hangman’s Wood and the ‘catacombs’ are real; a small area of woodland near to where I grew up.
The Thirteen Treasures is a legend I came across. The list of objects and their powers changes from one reference to the next. I decided to make up my own list of treasures, using the legend as a starting point.
Many of the ideas come from common fairy lore such as changelings and the deterrents Tanya uses to keep fairies at bay, though I’ve added a few twists of my own.
Do you believe in fairies?
My books are fiction. To me, fairies exist in stories, art and my imagination – although sometimes I might like to pretend that the little scuffling sound under a floorboard might be a fairy, just for fun. That’s not to say you shouldn’t believe in them, if you want to. People believe in many things they can’t see: God, the Devil, ghosts. How ‘real’ something is to you often depends on how much belief you choose to put into it.
Where do you go or what do you do when you’re looking for inspiration?
I get inspiration from many things: newspaper stories, pictures, old places and objects – museums are good – or things people do and say. Sometimes, being bored is the best inspiration to write a story – I had many of my best ideas when I worked in jobs that didn’t require much thought, therefore my mind was constantly wandering.
What did you do before you were an author?
I’ve worked as a barmaid, an art gallery attendant, and a children’s bookseller for Waterstone’s. In one summer break from university I worked in a bakery, surrounded by sticky buns and cream cakes, which was torture as I have a very sweet tooth! My most recent job was in the editorial team of a children’s publisher, where I worked for three and a half years. I now write full time.
What were you like at school?
I got on with most people, and worked hard in lessons I enjoyed such as English and Art. I always hated Maths, and was terrible at it. I never put much effort in until the final year (I wish I had now, perhaps I wouldn’t need an accountant – oops!). Instead I had fun making up rude songs about teachers. I’m also really bad at Geography, because I dropped it and opted to do an extra hour of art each week.
What was your favourite childhood book?
I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. They were the books that made me into a reader. But my favourite book was probably The Witches by Roald Dahl. It doesn’t have an entirely happy ending, which I find refreshing.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
I love most things about being an author: getting paid to daydream and make things up, inventing worlds and characters that exist in my head, and especially hearing from my readers.
What’s the worst thing about being an author?
Paperwork that takes you away from writing (boring but essential things like tax). Also, having a good idea, but having to change or abandon it because someone else got there first can be frustrating.
Have you met any other authors?
Yes, I’ve met Malorie Blackman, Emma Carroll, Cathy Cassidy, Abi Elphinstone, Robin Stevens, and Jacqueline Wilson to name just a few!
Do you illustrate your books?
The chapter illustrations inside the UK and the majority of the foreign editions of the books is mine. There are a few exceptions, the US editions being one.
Will you read my story/poem/manuscript and give me your opinion?
I’m really sorry, but no. I get so many requests to read people’s work that if I read them all I’d have no time to write my own books. There are also risks to me legally if someone decides that something I might write in future bears similarity to something they sent me to read, so it is safer for me not to read any unpublished work. The ONLY exception is of course if you are a writer who is having a book published (not self published) and would like me to consider endorsing their book with a quote, in which case please approach my agent for details. Any other work or ideas that is sent to me will be deleted, unread.
Where can I get review copies of your books?
To request proofs in the UK, email Liz.Binks[at]simonandschuster.co.uk
To request ARCS in the USA, email publicity[at]lbchildrens.com
For review copies in any other language, email assistant[at]darleyanderson.com who will put you in touch with the relevant publisher.