What’s On has a Dame Jacqueline Wilson interview as her Hetty Feather show comes to Dubai, to Centrepoint Theatre, Ductac, starring Phoebe Thomas.

Abandoned by her parents, Hetty Feather lives a grim life in Victorian London’s Foundling Hospital. Determined to find her birth mother, the plucky Hetty hatches a plan to escape on the busiest day of the year: Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Will matron Stinking Bottomly foil her ploy?

This stage show, Hetty Feather,  is based on the hit book by Dame Jacqueline Wilson, one of the UK’s most celebrated authors. She was British Children’s Laureate from 2005 to 2007, and won two British Book Awards Children’s Books Of The Year for Girls In Tears and The Illustrated Mum.

The show stars Phoebe Thomas, a regular on UK TV’s Holby City, Family Affairs, and Teachers. Local theatre-in-education group Art For All hosts the production. Dame Jacqueline started writing stories aged six and had her first short story published when she was 17. She’ll publish her 100th book this year. She revealed the secret to her success – and her longevity.

Do you draw on your own life experience when you write? Hardly ever. I much prefer to make it all up.

Why do you think your books are so popular? I try to tell a compelling story with believable characters. There are often sad passages, but generally some funny parts too.

What role do you think TV plays in a child’s development? I think TV can be stimulating and informative and entertaining, but perhaps parents should try to divert children if they want to slump in front of a TV screen hour after hour.

You often address uncomfortable topics such as divorce and mental illness. Do you think children should learn about these things at an early age? I sometimes write about troubling things, though obviously not for little children. My books are always told from a responsible and moral point of view. When I was last in Dubai I asked a traditional Emirati man if he minded his daughters reading my books and he said he was all in favour of them finding out about the wider world. I found that very reassuring.

With e-readers and tablets becoming widespread, what role do you think technology plays in children’s literacy? I don’t think it matters how children read stories, but I’m very much a real book person.

Do you think we are happiest when we are children? I certainly wasn’t happiest when I was a child. I much prefer being an adult and making decisions for myself.

Do you ever consider retiring or are you still bursting with ideas? I certainly don’t have any plans to retire. I am halfway through book number 101 and I’m busy planning number 102 in my head. I hope to be writing for many years yet.

May 16 to 24
Centrepoint Theatre, Ductac, Mall Of The Emirates, various times, Dhs120. Tel: (04) 3414777. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. ductac.org