info Issues viewing the video?

Marcus S

0:00:03 My name is Marcus S and I’m a writer. The books I write are historical fiction in some ways but there’s usually an element…most of them have had some element of fantasy in there as well, maybe a small, magical element as well.

00:00:20 This is the starting point for the next book of mine that will be published. It started making me think about what happens when a gun is fired and the way a gun is a…it’s a machine, if you like. It’s a very perfect machine. It does one job and it does it very, very well. But then if you think about what a bullet does at the other end of its life, its horrible. It’s an appalling thing, and I wanted to write a book that sort of captured those two sides of that. And all of that came from thinking about this little shell case. So it’s an example of how a whole book can grow out of the smallest thing.

00:00:55 I didn’t really have a sense of being a writer when I was a child. In fact I think it was probably the complete opposite in that I think I got put off by it, because the only thing I can remember about being a writer was someone saying to me, ‘you can’t be writer. No-one makes money doing that’. And I think that actually stopped me doing it probably well into my adult life. I think I might have got round to it quite a bit sooner were it not for that. Because sometimes those little things that people say to you at the right moment can stick with you for a long time.

00:01:25 So after A-levels I went to university and at university I did mathematics. And I’m laughing because I lasted precisely one year doing maths at university. When a whole year had gone by and I hadn’t seen a single number anywhere, all I’d seen was Egyptian hieroglyphics, I decided it wasn’t for me and I changed course at that point to politics, and I actually graduated with a politics degree. And the reason I chose politics was simply because, having got to university and spent a year getting established there, that was the most interesting course I could change to at the university that I was at, because they didn’t have an arts faculty.

00:02:04 But when I left university, I started to really begin to think about what I wanted to do and, to my horror, I couldn’t get a job doing…I had a degree but I couldn’t get a job doing anything at all.

00:02:18 I don’t know what I would have done if I’d have thought more carefully about university. I think in retrospect, you know, if I’d had more guidance when I was younger, there were courses that…by the time I graduated, there were courses like archaeology, art history, other things that I think I might have wanted to have done. But, you know, my time had gone by then, so that by that point, I was just thinking, ‘well what can I get into now?’ And still without a very strong sense of what I was going to do. But really the final catalyst in my career was accidentally, and I say accidentally, getting a job in a bookshop and it wasn’t just any bookshop, it was specifically a children’s bookshop. And it was there that I sort of fell in love with contemporary children’s writing and started to think actually, ‘I remember I did want to try and write once upon a time’, and this made me think that I could actually have the right to go and do it.

00:03:06 It’s a very strange thing when your first book comes out and, don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful and amazing feeling, but the whole publishing process is a very slow beast, and so from the moment at which you write your story and someone says yes, they’ll publish it, and then it’s another probably eighteen months minimum that it actually appears in the shops, you’ve kind of had quite a long time to get used to it. So it was almost just really a bit surreal, but nonetheless wonderful, and the first time you see that new book in the shops, you kind of, yeah, it brings you up short a little bit.

00:03:39 At the moment, I’m starting to try some other things. I’m developing a screen play that will be an adult film, and I’m starting to think about writing adult novels instead, because I just feel that’s where I’m headed. I also want to try and get into writing graphic novels too because I think this is another new and exciting area to work in these days.

Marcus Sedgwick is a successful children’s author. When he was young he was told he wouldn’t be able to make a living as an author, and that left an impression on him, so much so that he did maths and politics at university. But then he got a job in a children’s bookshop, “fell in love with contemporary children’s writing” and remembered his childhood aspirations to become a writer. He decided to give it a try.

More information about Authors, writers and translators

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

41%  male 
59%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Job holders in this unit group write, edit and evaluate literary material for publication excluding material for newspapers, magazines and other periodicals but including scripts and narrative for film, TV, radio and computer games and animations; and translate spoken and written statements into different languages.
Entry is possible with a variety of academic qualifications and/or relevant experience. Postgraduate and professional qualifications are available and are required for some occupations.
  • Determines subject matter and researches as necessary by interviewing, attending public events, seeking out records, observing etc.;
  • Generates and develops creative ideas for literary material;
  • Selects material for publication, checks style, grammar and accuracy of content, arranges for any necessary revisions and checks proof copies before printing;
  • Negotiates contracts with freelance agents and with buyer on behalf of writer;
  • Writes instruction manuals and user guides, technical reports, catalogues and indexes, prepares sales literature and writes technical articles for trade journals;
  • Converts documents or spoken statements from original or source language into another language;
  • Provides communication support for the hard of hearing or the visually impaired.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Legal & accounting 20354
Publishing activities 19168
Computer programming, etc 7012
Head offices, etc 6548
Arts & entertainment 6228
Office admin. 5177
Membership organisations 3334
Advertising, etc 3228
Security, etc 2999
Employment activities 2673
Employment status

From personal careers advice to finding work, see our round-up of
useful websites to help you on your way

Explore more videos by: