Lucy’s Wanderings In The Grove of Books

I’m a writer. I write children’s books mainly and sometimes the other kind. I read a lot and a life without reading would be desolation. I could just about give up music, favourite TV and DVD but I would be lost without being lost in a book.

I”ll shut myself in one, draw those book curtains and snuggle down with my book cocoa or if it’s daytime my book caffeine. Who needs drugs? I’ve been addicted all these years and hardly realised it. There are millions of fellow addicts to encourage me in my own personal twelve step book programme. Step one – read more books. Step; two. – well you get the point.

I’ve had one book published and hope to publish a good many more. I’m fifty five but in my legs no more than thirty five. I”m a child at heart perhaps because I’ve kept my early love of children’s books close and never felt ashamed of it. Oh it nodded off for a few years, just in case someone more adult and mature was watching. Now however I”m out and proud carrying my children’s books in their own covers unashamedly jumbled up with the so called adult ones.

So why write another blog about books? Because I’m a writer who reads a lot but never records what I think. Because I could write a list of the great books I’ve read in the last few years where some opinion or insight has been forgotten in the spider web which has entangled them in my memory.

Because I want to write a blog which shares my love of books for both adults and children and to explore the unexpected bridges between them

My favourite book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

It’s a book within which I can find fun and joy, love and wisdom time and time again. Then there are the three books which make up The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. These remain the best things I have ever read in the fantasy genre and always leave me newly stunned after each reading. I”ll add to the list Music and Silence by Rose Tremain, which among many other strengths has the best collection of well drawn and eccentric, earthy and true female characters ever assembled in one historic period. Three writers and works with wholly different things to recommend them. Ain’t reading great?

I’ve read all of them many times and that’s my criteria for a favourite book; to want to pick it up again and willingly be lost in its world again.

My favourite book for children is Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond.It was given to me and my late wife Celia by a dear friend and I wish she knew half of how much it’s meant to me. I’d never heard of David Almond but now I devour everything he writes. His gift to me as a writer is the ability to create memorable female characters as a ‘side-kick’ to the male protagonist. Girls so wonderful in their own right that that they upstage our hero and sometimes and quite rightly end up with their own book.

I also love his sense of place and the close knit family community ready to pull together at the slightest hint of adversity even if they don’t always agree with every bit of it.

The first book I remember enjoying was either read to me at Nunsthorpe  School in Grimsby, or by a family babysitter when I was seven or eight.

I went out and bought The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe soon after. If I were to pin down what made me fall in love with the Narnia books then I’d have to say it was the snow. I’m a sucker for anything set in snow because I love the stuff. Having said that I don’t drive and would doubtless change my mind pretty abruptly if I did ! But I also loved Mr Tumnus the Faun, and the snow queen witch and Edmund and the turkish delight and Aslan coming back from the dead. I also loved brave Lucy who no-one believed. I must have loved her because when forty odd years later I came to write The Seven, I called my favourite character Lucy.

My Lucy is the same age as I was when I first read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. She’s never been a happy child and can’t really understand why. She has a secret place, a grove of seven trees where a beautiful lady once taught her a rhyme. Every birthday she goes up there and sings it and nothing happens. But this time its her seventh and we all know about sevens.

The bridge between Lewis’s Lucy and mine has been a long one with, like the best stories, a lot of unexpected turns and diversions. Sometimes I couldn’t see the wood for the trees ahead.

But the books have always been my guide.