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Last Updated: Friday June 10 2011 17:46 GMT

Hotseat: Justin Somper

Justin Somper and his latest book, Immortal War

Pirates and vampires? You must be talking Vampirates! And Justin Somper, the author of the series, is going to answer YOUR questions.

The last book in the Vampirates series has just come out - it's called Immortal War and the Tempest twins face their biggest challenge yet.

So what would you like to ask Justin? Perhaps you want to know how he came up with the idea for the adventurous series?

Maybe you want to ask him some tips for writing or what he's going to do now he's finished the Vampirates books?

"What inspired you to write about vampires and pirates? And how did you come up with the word Vampirates?"

Hina, 13, Nottingham, England

"How did you come up with the idea of putting pirates and vampires together, 'cos it's a great combination!"

Anna, 11, Sunderland, England

Hi Hina and Anna,

It was a complete Eureka! moment. The word just seemed to land in my head one day. I liked the fact that it sounded like a word that should already be in the dictionary.

And I thought that the idea to combine vampires and pirates was an exciting one. My only problem initially was that I knew very little about vampires and nothing about pirates so I had to get busy with some research!

How long did it take you write all your books?

Teea, 9, High Wycombe, England

I've been working on the Vampirates sequence for eight or nine years all told, Teea. The individual books have taken a varying amount of time - from six months to a year. The last one was quite tough to write and it took about nine months.

"Is there going to be a Vampirates movie? I would love to be Grace Tempest."

Allison, 11, Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Allison, there might well be a movie at some point. My agent is in touch with various movie companies so watch this space! There definitely is going to be a touring stage production of Vampirates in the UK from this autumn. I'm excited to see how this shapes up!

"Hello Justin, I was wondering could you give me some tips for writing an adventure book?"

Alexandra, 11, Ballymoney, Republic of Ireland

Hi Alexandra. One thing I've learned from writing adventure books is that it's good to work hard on the plot before you even start the "proper" writing. These days, I create "chapter grids" using A2 sheets of graph paper and sticky notes. This helps me to map out the story and check that it is going to crank up the tension and keep the readers guessing. Give it a go!

"Do you have any siblings or pets? Where were you born?"

Georgia, 10, March, England

Hi Georgia. I have two sisters and a brother. I have two dogs - Bailey (a chocolate brown retriever) and Bella (a black Labrador). I was born and brought up in Hertfordshire. I'm about to return to my old primary school in Hatfield to give a talk.

"How do you react to all the reviews people give your books, good and bad ones?"

Emily, 14, Berkshire

I try not to let the good ones go to my head and not to let the bad ones get me down, Emily. Happily, most reviews have been positive. It is great to get feedback on my work, especially from young readers, teachers and librarians.

"If you could be the author for any book in the world which one would it be and why??"

Minahil, 12, Manchester, England

Hi Minahil. One of my favourite books is Cloudstreet by Australian author Tim Winton so I'd have to say that I'd like to be Tim. Also, he lives in Western Australia where they get a lot more sun than here in London!

"What was your inspiration for writing books? Was it a natural hobby or did you like a person who wrote books?"

Usayd, 11, Hayes, England

You're right, Usayd, it began as a hobby. Well it began in primary school I guess but I just always loved to write. In that way, it feels like there's been a continuum in my life from being a child to the adult I am now - writing, writing, writing. I feel lucky to have found something I love doing - and to be able to make a living from it.

"Hello. Did you ever get writer's block and how did you overcome it?"

Pippa, 11, London

Pippa, I have had the beginnings of writer's block in the past. That was one of the reasons I started creating chapter grids (see my answer to Alexandra's question above). Ideally, this kind of planning means that you never have to deal with writer's block. But if it does strike, then I'm a firm believer in switching off the computer and getting away from the office. It's handy having dogs so I can go for a long walk in the fresh air and just reboot my brain a bit.


Pirate sign - skull and crossbones


Ahoy there! What do you know about the villains of the sea?