Back to childhood
There are a lot of clichés about reading: a book is a passport that can take you anywhere; books broaden your mind; there is no friend as loyal as a book; if you don’t like reading then you haven’t found the right book, etc. You can probably name more yourselves. And I have to say… I agree with every one of them.
I’ve always liked reading from as early as I can remember. I can actually recall being excited to start in reception so that I can learn to read for myself; similar to when I was nearly seventeen and itching to be able to start learning to drive. Perhaps both of these were to do with independence?
I was always drawn to books which had a main character that had a special power, especially Matilda. I felt like I really related to her because of how much she read! It was really fun to feel as though you were the main character with a special ability – it was a place that I could feel powerful as a child. I was very shy and quiet at primary school so reading was a safe form of escapism for me where you could try out different personalities and characters with no fear. So those are the types of books I have found myself writing: a character who finds he can turn himself into the headteacher whenever he wants; a boy who bakes cakes that give him a special power for a day; a child who burps bubbles. I think it’s fun to read a book where you imagine yourself as the main character with a special power that no one else has.
As a teacher...
Not all children like reading. As a teacher, I see this all the time as well as with my own husband! And, to go back to the clichés at the beginning of this blog, it really is probably not having found the right book, or magazine, or comic, or football programme, or letter from a friend… I want to be able to write those ‘right books’ for children.
I also really believe that reading is the key to unlocking learning. In the way that I couldn’t wait to read to have independence, it really does provide children with the means to learn about anything in the world that they want to; to communicate and connect with other people; to understand emotions; to learn about decision-making. I could bore you with the number of benefits to love reading (assuming I haven’t already!)
So why authoring?
I already have a teaching career and two small children so you would be forgiven for thinking that I have quite enough to occupy my time. The thing is, I love creating things. I will spare you from having to read yet another list (of things I like creating) in this blog and skip to the creating of stories.
The thing about creating stories is that you can make absolutely anything happen that you can conceive of. There truly are no limits whatsoever. You can set a story anywhere, anytime, with any characters that you want. They don’t need to be human; they don’t even need to be nice! If you want to make you main character the president of the universe, then you can. Hmmm, maybe I have some issues with control!
Create your own story
I like to think of my life the same way I think of a story: I can create whatever I want with it. Nowadays, if you want to be an author then self-publish. That’s what I did. Does that mean I’m cheating? That I didn’t go through an author’s rite of passage of receiving a library’s worth of rejection letters? A few years back I probably would have thought so but you don’t necessarily have to go through something bad to get to something good. I wanted to be an author so I have, in a sense. My next step is to get better at it and be a really good author.
So writing books that make the reader feel powerful is important to me. Working with children of all different backgrounds and having my own children, I see the need for children to feel that their dreams are not restricted in any way. Yes, of course, it is harder for those who are born into difficult circumstances but that’s why I teach so that I can be an ally to them. And writing books that deliver that same message can hopefully reach even more than the ones who are in my class.