FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Did you want to become a writer when you were a child?
Yes - I started writing stories when I was about 6
Who inspired you growing up?
Tons of fictional heroes and heroines, 3 inspirational teachers, and my mother (who's MUCH lovelier than Arabella).
What are your favourite children's books?
I have loads of favourites. Here's just a few for now:
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman,
J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series (of course)
The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Bumface by Morris Gleitzman
I am David by Ann Holm
Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
The Narnia books by C.S Lewis
The Odyssey by Homer
What are your favourite teenage/young adult books?
Maus 1 & ll by Art Spiegelman
Any book by John Wyndham
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
1984 by George Orwell
The Gormanghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
Where did you go to school?
In London. Then I did a degree in English at York University followed by a degree in Art (illustration) at Harrow School of Art.
What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
Cherry Garcia though certain toffee, chocolate and coconut flavours occasionally compete.
If you weren't an author/illustrator what would you be?
NOT a tightrope walker (I hate heights). A part of me always wished I was a doctor like my sister, because I really wanted people to take me seriously. But it was a doomed notion since I can't stand the sight of blood. So - hmmm... maybe an actor? The great thing about being an actor is that you get to try out being someone else. Which is one of the things you do when you're writing a story.
Where do you write your books?
I mostly write in my studio, or on trains. But I get ideas in odd places: out shopping; in bed; in the shower. So I carry a notebook around with me (this doesn't work in the shower).
When is your birthday?
Have you got a husband and children? Can you tell me about them?
Yes and yes. My husband's called Chris, and my two children, Addison and Max wouldn't really want me to call them children any more!
Do you have any pets?
Can you count fish as pets? My son has a huge tank filled with tropical fish. The thing I love about the tank is the colour... And the excitement when all the babies hatch. The thing I hate about fish is that when one of them gets sick, the others all gang up on it. We used to have 3 beautiful, naughty cats, but when we moved to a flat on a very busy road (with no garden) my sister adopted them.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am in the middle of writing Polly's 4th Secret Diary. You won't believe what horrors Polly has to face in this one (a clue ... SCORPIONS!)
I have just finished the second book (Delirium) for my epic teenage trilogy (out in May), and starting on the third (Afterlife).
When did you first start writing books for children?
When my own children were small, but despite a diet of gummy bears and sherbet fountains they have insisted on growing up - so most of my characters have had to grow up with them.
ABOUT POLLY AND THE SECRET DIARIES
Why did you choose to write a novel in the format of a diary?
I was doodling on a piece of paper one day, and Polly just appeared. She was clearly demanding to tell her story in her own way. So I decided to let her.
Is Arabella based on anyone you know?
Yes - several people all merged into one - but their identity has to remain secret (for obvious reasons).
Were you similar to Polly when you were growing up?
Yes, but luckily I didn't have Arabella as a mother.
Where did you get the idea for Polly's Totally Secret Diary?
The idea grew. Polly was sitting there on my desk waiting to tell her story. I had the beginings of the American adventure in my head. So I just put the two of them together! Then I had to try and persuade the lovely editors at Random House that 128 pages of badly spelt diary in full colour was a good idea. It took me over a year!
Did any of the story actually happen or did you make it up?
A little bit is true, but Im not saying which bit!
Did you do the drawings yourself?
How long does it take to write one of the Polly diaries?
It's impossible to separate the writing from the drawing so I'd have to say each diary takes at least a year.
Where did the idea for Fever come from?
Weirdly I was thinking about ghosts long before I was thinking about time travel.
So - did Fever start out as a ghost story then?
I suppose so. But it ended up being a love story. An epic sci-fi love story.
Do you call it epic because of the huge time-span?
Partly. And partly because the themes: death, time, love, immortality are pretty epic.
Sci-fi love story. Is that a first?
Possibly. But it won't be the last! I am currently writing the third in the series!
Is Fever the first book you've written for teenagers?
Yes. Which is surprising considering I live on a campus with 750 of them!
DEE TALKS ABOUT PARALLON...
I work in a studio that overlooks a quadrangle very similar to the one described in St Mags. At break students swarm across the quad between lessons, and it is quite easy to imagine Eva, Astrid and Ruby walking and talking amongst them. Like St Mags the buildings are very old. I've seen graffiti on a wall behind the school stage that goes back 400 years, so I suppose it isn't difficult for me to imagine ghosts of previous students wandering the corridors. And ghosts were definitely one of the themes I wanted to explore when I started writing Fever - along with time, mortality and of course love.
Fever is the first book in the trilogy, and the first book I have written for teenagers, which is surprising since I live so close to 750 of them.
When I left school, I studied English at York University and Illustration at Harrow School of Art, then started life as an illustrator, designing book jackets, illustrating for magazines and storyboarding music videos. I used to write stories all the time when I was a kid, but I stopped around the time I did my GCSEs, and didnt start again until I had children of my own. My first (picture) books were mostly about my children and their friends. But despite a diet of sherbet fountains and gummy bears they insisted on growing up, so my characters had to grow up with them. I've now written and/or illustrated over 50 books which have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Italian, Spanish, German, Turkish, Serbian, Portuguese, French, Hebrew, Polish, Welsh, Dutch, Russian and Finnish - though I have no idea how accurately!
I do hope you enjoy Fever, because theres a lot more story left to come...
DEE READS A TASTER OF:
MY TOTALLY SECRET DIARY - On Stage in America
Polly Price - On Stage in America
“Dee Shulman has created a real hit for young readers with her charming full-colour illustrations and interactive concept for My Totally Secret Diary ”
“For a truly laugh-out-loud read, grab My
Totally Secret Diary'”
“Incredible. Witty and fun to read."
“The fantastic new must-have story starring Polly Price. You'll be laughing out loud! ...Polly's Diary is all about what growing up is really like.'
“It’s packed full of doodles and pictures, and has more secrets than we’ve ever seen before!”
“Polly is a scream and the pictures are a joy.”
“What a darling book! The illustrations alone are worth a look at this book. I had a little giggle on each page with the pictures. Very cute! It is written just like a journal. Full of marked out mistakes, and taped in keepsakes. This promises to be a fun read for any tween. I enjoyed it immensely! Go check it out!” Thesweetbookshelf
Polly Price - Reality TV Nightmare
“I really loved the format of Reality TV Nightmare. The diary entries were interspersed will full colour doodles, photographs of Polly’s friends and pictures from her magazines.
Even her writing had spelling mistakes and
crossings out. A completely authentic tween
I felt so sorry for poor Polly, though. The
eccentric and really annoying Vanilla, yep,
Vanilla, and Polly’s selfish, self-centred Mum
made Polly’s life a misery. I don’t think I
would have lasted as long as she did without
This is a short, sweet and very funny diary perfect for young teen or tween girls. Pure fun!”
Polly Price - Mum in Love
My oldest son read this one in 1 hour and 36mins and is very proud of himself. The humour is fabulous and ... if you have a reluctant reader amongst your family, girl or boy, I feel that this book will get them hooked.