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5-4-3-2-1: Dawn McNiff | Teens on Moon Lane

5-4-3-2-1: Dawn McNiff

By Jim Dean, April 5, 2016

We’re really looking forward to reading Dawn McNiff’s How Not To Be Weird – published in just 2 days! – so it was great to get her to take part in 5-4-3-2-1 today.

5 relationships you love reading about

1. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. (Forever funny.)
2. Ever and Rat in Skinny by Donna Cooner (Was rooting for them.)
3. The three sisters in The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson (Touching and real.)
4. The author and his otters in Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. (I cried buckets.)
5. Feo and her awesome, glittering wolves in The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (Already a classic, IMO.)

4 pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author

1. Read more current children’s and YA books. Read, read, read. Use the wonderful online library service to order in new books you can’t afford.
2. Always wake up and write down stories and ideas you think of during the night. They’re often gems thrown up from a fertile, dreamy place.
3. Do a creative writing course much sooner. (I did the fab MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa Uni which really kick-started my writing career.)
4. Don’t imagine that you can give up your non-writing work when you get your first few publishing contracts – all the cliches about day jobs apply.

3 items of swag you’d love to see made (could be for your own book or someone else’s, or a mix)

1. Some little toy pugs from the Frozen North  – along with dog dressing-up clothes.
2. A huge, woolly Gooner dog toy from my new novel, How Not to Be Weird (because the character’s based on my own dog of the same name.)
3. Cards and prints of the illustrations from picture book Greenling by Levi Pinfold. Just beautiful.

2 authors you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island

1. Nicola Davies – because she used to be a TV presenter on the Really Wild Show, so she’d know what tropical bugs to run away from, and how to tame a tiger.
2. John Dougherty – because he can play guitar and sing any song you ask for. He’s like a human jukebox and would keep us entertained.

1 place you love to read

1. In Richard Booth’s bookshop and cafe in Hay on Wye. (They have big sofas, they let dogs in, and they do really nice chips.)
How Not to Be Weird – Dawn’s third novel for 9-11 years olds – will be published by Piccadilly Press in April. She also has a picture book coming out with Walker later in 2016.

Dawn lives in Gloucestershire with her two daughters, and a small cat who likes fighting and cheese.

Find out more about Dawn at and follow her on Twitter.

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What do you think?