The Magic of Reading
Once upon a time there lived an old witch who ate kittens for breakfast and small children for lunch…
Okay, so I don’t read many books that start with ‘once upon a time’ anymore, but evil witches devouring kittens? Bring it on!
I was chatting with a group of teenagers recently who wanted to know why I loved reading, and how I started writing my young adult fiction. It was interesting to hear about their favourite authors and why they liked the books they read. In response, they were equally fascinated by my answers, so I thought I’d blog about it (any excuse!)
My mum was the one to encourage my reading; she would buy me tons of books covering a variety of topics. I wasn’t a pony and ballet kind of girl; I liked dragons, fantasy, and gore. For me, it was the perfect way to escape.
School was okay; I had good friends and got six weeks off in the summer, but I wasn’t a brain box. Maths was as an alien language that only my teacher and a select few classmates could understand. P.E meant standing around in the rain and snow trying to whirl a hockey stick, without knocking my best friend’s teeth out.
My English classes, on the other hand, were fun. They called it ‘comprehension’ but I called it ‘climbing inside the brain of an author.’ The more we looked at how to put a story together, the more interested I became. What was going on in Clive King’s head when he created Stig of the Dump? It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece was another part of the story.
As a young child, my favourite book was Enid Blyton’s, The Folk of the Faraway Tree. It’s been re-written over the years, giving the cast of characters more modern names, but the storyline is the same. I wasn’t a girlie girl, so climbing trees was a favourite past-time of mine. I could always climb higher than my younger brother, which annoyed him and made me climb even higher. To think that there could be an imaginary world of fantasy characters up the Oak tree was incredibly exciting.
My passion for fantasy tales began then. When I was a kid, my cousins and I would put on an annual Christmas play for our family. Aunt, uncles, and grandparents would assemble in the front room and wait for the performance. As I was the oldest, I organised the script and casting. We used my Grandma’s old clothes for costumes. I used the themes from my favourite books as ideas for the play. One year we were rabbits from Watership Down, the next year, we were Doctor Who’s companions hurtling through space.
My tastes haven’t changed that much over the years; I did have a horror phase when I hit my teens, which coincided with a black clothing fest and a desire to hide away. I came through that period eventually, although I do still wear a lot of black!
I write young adult fantasy fiction purely because this is what I love to read the most. Although, I have to slot my reading in around my writing schedule now. I long for the simpler days of curling up in my room, reading book after book. To lose yourself in a story is the best feeling in the world.
One of my favourite YA authors is, Sarah J.Maas, who writes about faeries, witches, and dragons. Her books allow me to escape from real-life, just for a while and become a heroine in an epic battle between good and evil. I included Sarah in one of my #MondayMuse posts – you can read that HERE.
My three children loved reading when they were much younger but as they reached their teens they became more reluctant – until I published my first young adult book. Maybe it helped that they were related to the author, but watching their faces as they reached a twist in the tale was priceless.
My eldest son once said to me, ‘mum, you can’t behead someone in the first chapter!’
My response? ‘Oh course I can, it’s my story, I can write what I like.’
Reading gave me that confidence. Knowing that other authors were able to drag me into their world and make me laugh, cry or scream only made me more determined to read more, and subsequently write my stories.
What do you find so magical about reading?
I write my YA fiction and combine myth, legend and fairytales with a side order of demonic chaos. I was born in Yorkshire but raised in the West Midlands, where I live with my three children, one fat fish and a black cat called Luna. An obsessive list maker, I also love pizza, social media, and working out who will die next in Game of Thrones.
Find all my books on Amazon.