Writing tips from Roald Dahl, including rare audio
of Roald speaking to interviewer Todd McCormack.
In 1988, two years before Roald Dahl's death, an interviewer named Todd McCormack spoke with Roald and asked him some questions about his writing routine, ideas and inspiration. In the audio clips here, you can hear Roald himself speaking about these and many other things. If he sounds out-of-breath at any point, it's because he was walking around his home and the village of Great Missenden while he was talking.
Roald was 71 at the time of this interview. As he said himself, "I have worked all my life in a small hut up in our orchard. It is a quiet private place and no one has been permitted to pry in there." Roald not only let Todd inside the hut; he also gave him a rare insight into how he worked, where his ideas came from and how he shaped and nurtured them into the stuff of unforgettable stories.
Roald also wrote (as you might expect) about being a writer, including the piece Lucky Break - where he talks about how he came to write his first story; you can find it in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More - as well as in Boy, My Year, and several speeches and articles.
In this interview, recorded in 1988, we can hear Roald Dahl himself discussing his writing methods. Scroll to listen to all 11 answers, including a reading from The BFG by Roald.
What is it like writing a book?
How do you get your story ideas?
The idea for James and the Giant Peach
What is your work routine?
How do you keep the story's momentum going?
How easy was it to write Matilda?
How do you keep readers entertained?
How do you create your characters?
How do you include horrific events?
Has living in the countryside influenced you?
Please read us an extract from The BFG!
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More features a short extract called Lucky Break, in which Roald Dahl explains how he came to be a writer. It also includes seven tips from Roald on the qualities he thought necessary to anyone wanting to make a living out of writing fiction. They were: