The Magic of Reading #AmReading

The Magic of Reading

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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.

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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?

Author Profile

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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.

30 comments

  1. You and I followed a similar route…I was a voracious devourer of books from four years old and had an English teacher who encouraged us all to write (God help today’s children, restricted by the curriculum requirements). I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t read —- whether within their own writing field or outside it. Can’t be the one without being the other!

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    1. Absolutely! I attend a lovely creative writing class and a lady joined who told me she never reads – I must have looked horrified. She asked for tips on writing and I almost shouted ‘READ’ ha ha 🙂

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  2. Reading has always been my go-to when I need a break. I tend to read non-fiction (mainly because I think I’m really nosey) and it’s the best escape ever. I’ve always wanted to own a library like the one in Beauty and the Beast too!

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    1. Ooh, I love that library!! I’m a huge non-fiction fan too but I tend to stick with self-help – good job as I write for that genre lol! It’s imperative for a writer to be nosey – where else could we get our material lol 😜

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  3. Lovely post! I wonder how many people Enid Blyton has inspired into a lifetime of reading (much to the chagrin of some parents)…?!! Me, certainly! Although I do remember a neighbour saying, ‘I can’t believe you let her read all this Enid Blyton’ and my dad replying, ‘My job is not to dictate what she reads but to make sure she is encouraged to read.’

    Why do I read? Hmmm. Because it’s the only thing I do (apart from writing) where I am absolutely focused, no wandering thoughts. And that, for me, is the ultimate relaxation.

    Your teen fiction sounds wonderful 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much, Jackie. Your dad was spot on! I read so many interviews where the author was inspired by Enid Blyton and I’ve pondered that same question – what a legacy! You are so right about the focus when reading – the only other activity that captures me so fully is adult colouring books! 🙂

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  4. Wonderful essay. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid (which, I discovered to my astonishment, is much rarer than I’d thought) – The Three Investigators series was really my gateway into it all. Still love to read, try and get through at least a book a week across a variety of subjects and genres. Oh and I liked the beheading too! 🙂

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    1. Hahaha thanks, Mark. I’m quite proud that I managed to tempt you over the dark side of YA! I totally agree with your comment – apps, gaming, and YouTube seem to have captured this generations interest over reading, which is a huge shame. 🙂

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  5. I can’t imagine how I’d get through life without books. I’m sure being able to escape into a book helps reduce stress levels – and I’m sticking to this theory 🙂
    Like so many others Enid Blyton was the writer who got me reading and made me want to write. I loved The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. I wanted her ability to take me out of my very ordinary childhood through stories.

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  6. I wasn’t a keen reader – my family esp my brother were so it was my point of differentiation. Not that there was much else to do so I did it reluctantly until I was about 12 when i found a few authors – like you Enid Blyton was in there. I pretty much gave up except what i had to read for school as a mid teenager, until I met Mrs LP (she was 18, me 19) and found I’d missed out on so much. She gave me reading tasks which I completed and began to find all sorts of authors. I still don’t get what’s so special about Austen and the Brontes but hey there’s room for everyone. I’d say I learnt how important books were aged about 25 and haven’t looked back. Interesting topic!

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    1. That’s really interesting, Geoff. My brother never enjoyed reading until he reached his early twenties and yet I was devouring five books a week. My middle son (15) always had a nose in a book when he was younger (he loved the Astrosaurs series), but more recently he has moved away from books – I’m hoping he’ll find that passion again. I was lucky to have an incredibly supportive English teacher who challenged my writing/reading skills, and I think that was a huge help. (p.s. I’m with you on the Brontes!) 😉

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  7. I honestly don’t know what motivated me to read – I just always did. I seemed to be at the library at least once a week (at one point in my teens I was going every day, though how I read a book a day I can’t imagine now). It’s a been disappointing that my son doesn’t read, but at least my daughter does – though I’m still apprehensive about her reading my book. Mind you, she’s 23, so I don’t really get a say in it any more. Great post, Shelley

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    1. Haha, I think at 23 she’s earned the right to choose! 😉 It’s a well known phenomenon that boys turn away from reading, I know my sons did too. All we can hope is that they discover the wonder later in life. I used to love visiting the library on a Saturday when I was a child – happy days 🙂

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      1. Yes, Saturday at the library. I’d forgotten, but I did make it part of our Saturday morning ritual with my kids. Along with swimming lessons – until Robert discovered he knew how to kick a ball and then weekends were never the same again

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  8. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read (except when I was young and didn’t know how and I don’t like to think about that period in my life) and can’t imagine a life without books.

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  9. I was totally inspired by Enid Blyton too – I would devour her books then reread them many, many times. It’s been a while since I’ve read one but having read this post, I’m now thinking its time for yet another reread 🙂

    I love the escapism of reading, and what I loved about Enid’s stories was that they inspired me to have mini adventures in my own life, even if it was just being allowed to take a packed lunch into the field beside our house! I love reading wonderful prose too; that process of a world coming to life just through words. It really is an amazing art form.

    And yay to a beheading in the first chapter!! I love it when something really unexpected happens in a story…..and no one expects a beheading in the first chapter 😉

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