An interview with Craig Thaine, co-author of the new Empower course book series

Craig Thaine, Languages International‘s Director of Teacher Training, is also the author of several books published by Cambridge University Press. His recently released course book series Empower adds another six books to his body of work. We interviewed him to find out how he does it.

How do you write? Do you have a daily routine or any rituals you use to help?

No, I don’t have any particular rituals that I follow, but I always try and write something even if I’m not sure that I’m coming up with Empower by Craig ThaineEmpower by Craig Thainea good idea. In other words, you often find the answer to a writing problem just by writing – sticking with it. I’m reasonably disciplined about the way I write and I treat it like any job. When I was working full-time on Empower I was always at my computer by 8 in the morning ready to begin my working day.

What’s your writing process? Where do you get your inspiration?

Writing course books can be difficult because you not only have to have a good idea for a reading or listening text, but you also have to think about the language you need to focus on. I used the internet a lot to get ideas, and, for higher levels, I often used authentic material from newspapers and radio programmes. I was always able to bounce ideas off my co-writers and editors and they would sometimes suggest something that became inspiration for the material I ended up writing.

How did you collaborate with your co-author and editors?

I was the only person involved with the writing of Empower who lives on this side of the world. This meant that most of my collaboration was via email and Skype because other writers and editors all live in the UK and Europe. At a midway point, we all met in Cambridge for face-to-face meetings, but most of the time we communicated electronically. It worked surprisingly well, and the time difference often worked in our favour. Editors would send feedback on a draft as they left the office in the UK in the early evening. I would receive this first thing in the morning here in New Zealand and send the revisions back to them at the end of the day. This meant by the time they returned to work the following day the revisions were complete.

You’re the Director of Teacher Training at Languages International. How did you find the time to write six course books?

I didn’t! I was able to take some sabbatical leave in order to work on the course books full-time. Writing Empower has been a big project and it would have been impossible to fit the writing around a working schedule.

How did it feel coming back to teaching again after your sabbatical?

I’d begun to enjoy working at home and I thought the return to work might be hard. But it turned out being easier than I thought. I think it’s good for materials writers to reconnect with what goes on in classrooms, and the learners they are writing for. It’s also meant I’ve had the opportunity to try out some of the material I worked on. And so far it seems to be working well with students!

Where can people find out more about the Empower series and your other work?

Empower has its own website where they can look at sample materials and they can find out about other Cambridge University Press books I’ve written here.