Richard Platt


British author Richard Platt joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author!

Richard has been writing since 1983 and has had nearly 100 books published by Oxford University Press, Kingfisher, Walker Books, Franklin Watts, Dorling Kindersley and other publishers. Most of these books are illustrated information books for children, but Richard has also written children’s stories and several books for adults. Some have won prizes: Pirate Diary (Walker Books) won a Smarties silver prize and a Blue Peter award. Three other books reached the Royal Society science prize shortlist. Richard has also written restaurant reviews, corporate reports, TV scripts and museum interpretation, and has appeared on TV and radio.

How did you get started writing?

Well, I kind of tumbled into it. I was a keen photographer, and studied photography at college, and I started writing articles for photography magazines. I began to write a monthly column about photography, then books about how to take better pictures. I started writing books for children after I went to work for a publishing company, Dorling Kindersley.

Who influenced you?

Many, many people influenced me, and it's hard to single one out. But I guess that David Macaulay was significant. His book The Way Things Work took a wacky look at technology, a subject I love writing about. Also when I was young I read Tolkien's books, and particularly enjoyed Gormenghast

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

Not sure if you mean my books or those of others? Of my own writing, I am particularly attached to Double Crossing, a novel I wrote a few years ago. It describes the adventures of an Irish orphan who travels to New York and gets kidnapped by a crime gang. When writing it I learned so much from the wonderful editors at Walker Books, and they created a really beautiful book.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

In a word, "Don't!" It's great to want to write, and I would greatly encourage you to go ahead and do this. Writing is a wonderful, truly rewarding experience. With your words you can create fantasy worlds, or become anyone you want. But being an author, and earning a living from your writing is very, very hard indeed, and is getting more difficult all the time. Just write, and enjoy writing, and if you write well, you may earn a little money from it. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

Any author will tell you that pounding a keyboard is just one small part of writing. The thinking that comes before the typing takes up far more time. And I do my best thinking on my bike, whizzing round country lanes, or panting up Battery Hill, near where I live in Hastings, England. 

What else would you like to tell us?

    •       I’m a closet geek, and enjoy programming computers

    •       I can repair clocks and make string out of stinging nettles

    •       I love cooking, especially pizza, and chocolate ice-cream


Richard, thank you for spending six minutes with LitPick’s readers. Enjoy riding your bike! 

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