Archive for January, 2018

Paul Jennings on the inspiration behind his novella A Different Dog

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

I have had a number of different occupations over the last fifty years: a special school teacher, a speech pathologist, a lecturer in reading education and an author. A Different Dog draws on many experiences in these fields.  And of course, it also draws on my own childhood.

If you ask me, ‘Where did the story come from?’ that’s another thing altogether. I will have to say that I don’t know. It was a matter of putting my hand into the lucky dip of my own mind. There are many presents in that barrel and they are all wrapped so you don’t know what you are going to get.

One of the influences on a writer would have to be the books that he or she has read themselves. An author cannot copy another’s work and each writer must find their own voice. But somewhere in the back of our minds are tucked the stories we have enjoyed in the past.

Of the books that I loved when I was aged between thirteen and fifteen I can think of three which I turn back to and read again and again. They are still readily available more than fifty years later. Teenagers and adults love these stories. I still have my old copies and like to look at their torn and worn covers which beckon me from years gone by. Here they are:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. A boy and a runaway slave on the Mississippi River. How I wished I was on that raft. And little did I know that I would still be amazed by their wonderful adventures all these years later.

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. A girl, a bird and disabled man feature in this moving story. When you finish it you just know that there is an untold truth hinted at within the main story and it makes you think for weeks after you have read it.

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. This is a lovely story about a boy, an old man and a fish. Exciting, sometimes sad but always making you ask yourself, ‘Could I ever do that?’

I don’t know if these authors influenced me when I wrote, A Different Dog but if you read any of them you might like to give it some thought.

I can tell you how I think A Different Dog came into being. When I was eight years old, I had to bury a dead dog. This unpleasant memory was the starting point for my new book. I began writing about how I felt while I was digging the grave for the poor animal. But as the story developed I dropped this bit out altogether and came up with a dog named Chase that was alive but very strange indeed.

As the wrapping paper came off, something else revealed itself and the story changed completely. It was not about death any more but had ended up being about …

Well, what do you think?

 

Paul Jennings, 2017

A Different Dog by Paul Jennings is published by Old Barn Books and available from 1st February 2018

To hear more from the author click on the following link:

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/936116803988/paul-jennings

Courtesy & © SBS TV

Sita Brahmachari on her latest novel Zebra Crossing Soul Song

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Could you describe Zebra Crossing Soul Song to us in five words? 

Life-lessons

Music

Memory

Friendship

Crossings

 

What inspired you to write this book

Fifteen years ago, when my son was four years old, a zebra crossing man saved his life. I wrote this in my notebook:
‘Zebra Crossing Story’
A story about a Zebra Crossing man who saves a boy’s life. The crossing as a place of learning, growing, philosophy, psychology music, river, life….
In the story that has emerged all these years later, 18 year old Lenny looks back at his growing up through memories on the crossing from nursery to sixth form.

 

Music features quite heavily throughout Lenny’s story. Can you tell us a little about how you used music in the book and why it’s so important to the story? 

The story is written in music memory tracks. I love the way music prompts memories, so I chose some tracks that prompted strong memories for me and from listening to the songs I thought about my characters and how they might connect to them. My imagination started roaming and the voice of Otis the Zebra Crossing Man came to me.
My son has written songs from an early age, so I thought why not make a Zebra Crossing man who was an ex-musician and for some reason has stopped performing…. A song man who shares his favourite tracks with a young singer-songwriter as he crosses the road.  Music, and the freedom to explore it, is a vital part of Lenny’s journey through life. It’s a massive part of his education and growing up – as the creative arts are for so many young people. It’s playful and fun and I really loved playing with the form of voices in song… It is the ‘food of love’ after all!

 

You’ve described Otis as one of your quiet angels like Grace in Worry Angels, can you tell us a little more about this idea?

If Otis wrote a CV his working life wouldn’t look that high flying or ambitious. You could say the same for Netti in Brace Mouth, False Teeth (who’s a carer for the elderly) and Grace (who helps children with emotional difficulties in an out of school centre in Worry Angels). The work all these characters do are not obviously glamorous. Netti in Brace Mouth, False Teeth calls these roles ‘Heart Work.’ Heart work is work that may not earn you much money and is often (wrongly) undervalued in this society, but it is work you find deeply fulfilling.  A Zebra Crossing person is one such angel. In my case, someone doing this job saved my child’s life. They were literally his guardian angel. No one made a big deal about it at the time. No one made him into a hero. He was just doing his job in a quiet unassuming way. Otis may not seem that ‘quiet’ a character when you first start reading his voice but you will discover that many deep currents flow under the crossings that take place on the road, and the fact that he returns every day to help children to safety makes him into one of my ‘quiet angels’.  A quiet angel doesn’t have to do something big like save a life. He or she is often someone who can change your day with a small act of kindness, a word of encouragement, taking time to have a cup of tea with you, make a worry angel or teach you a song, as Otis does to put a spring in Lenny’s step as he struggles through school.

 

What one piece of advice would you give to someone, like Lenny, who wants to start writing?

Otis gives the best song writing advice and it is advice that works well for writing in general!

Listen up now,man,if you waan be a

Musi-shan

Tek a lyric down

Catch dem word dat hinspire

Listen deep inside de music

See what plays thru ya

See what plays true to ya

To write you’ve got to be taken by a story yourself and give it enough attention and freedom to discover why you care about it enough to tell it.

 

Finally, a huge congratulations on your recent IBBY honour. Your books have been recognised by Amnesty International in a similar way. What does this sort of recognition mean to you?

Thank you so much.  When writing I think a great deal about how young people are experiencing growing up today. I write stories about characters who, like Lenny in Zebra Crossing Soul Song, are beginning to explore how the world impacts on them and how they will impact on the world. Many of my characters are setting out in life facing some massive challenges and inequalities. Both Amnesty and IBBY are International organisations with human rights and equality at their heart. I write stories with a diverse cast of characters with roots that spread far and wide across the globe and my work with refugee people alongside Jane Ray is a constant reminder of the preciousness of our freedom of speech to tell stories. For these reasons the endorsement of my books by IBBY and Amnesty (International organisations focused on a global, humane family) means a great deal to me.

On another note… people assume that the more books you write the more confident you grow. That is not necessarily the writer’s logic. So these affirmations do give a confidence that the stories I’m writing are finding passionate readers.

 

Zebra Crossing Soul Song by Sita Brahmachari published by Barrington Stoke is a tender tale of memory and overcoming loss. Lenny has spent most of his life at the zebra crossing, and for many of those years Otis, the singing `zebra man’ has helped him on his way. But when Otis’ sad past comes back to haunt him, Lenny is forced to face his crossroads alone. Only by examining the memories of their friendship can Lenny discover the truth. It will be loved by all who read it but it is also suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+. 

Enter to win a family break to Salisbury

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

*****************NOTE : THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**************

Don’t miss out! Win a family break to Salisbury – CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

Here at Lovereading.co.uk and Lovereading4kids.co.uk we have joined with VisitWiltshire and are delighted to be giving you a chance to win a wonderful family break in Wiltshire. You could see yourself indulging in the finest food and slumbering comfortably into one of the grand rooms at The Red Lion Salisbury for two nights. The Red Lion Hotel is located in medieval city of Salisbury, which is home to all your favourite stores as well as independent shops, restaurants, cafes and parks and green spaces.

 

 

There are many seasonal events in Salisbury, and you can find out what’s on here. You will also receive a family ticket to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, the gardens are especially beautiful in the winter, with bold coloured stems, scents, and fabulous foliage, you can be sure to be impressed. For the children there is also a play park, and you can stop off in the Victorian tea room to warm up and treat yourself to a traditional cream tea.  

To enter click here.  Entries close 31st January 2018.

Terms and Conditions

Red Lion: Two night stay includes breakfast for two adults and up to two children sharing a family room. Subject to availability and cannot be exchanged or redeemed for cash value. Not to be used in combination with any other offer. Valid until 1st Dec 2018 and excludes bank holidays

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens: Valid for day entry, Not to be used for special events or group entry. Voucher is not transferable or refundable, no Cash Value. Ticket must be redeemed on entry. Valid until 31 Dec 2018. Gardens open daily from 10am – closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Prize admits 2 adults and accompanying children Under 17 FREE to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

By providing us with your contact details when you enter the competition you are agreeing to future contact from VisitWiltshire and its selected partners.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

 

Coram Voice’s creative writing competition for children in care and young care leavers returns

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Coram Voice is excited to announce the return of ‘Voices’, its national writing competition for children in care and young care leavers, for a third year running. The competition is open for entries until 8 February 2018.

Coram Voice, a charity that provides a range of services for children and young people in and around the care system, first launched the competition in 2016 as a platform for care-experienced young people to express their creative talents and to celebrate their voices.

Research conducted with previous Voices shortlisted entrants found that participation in the competition had inspired them to write more, allowed them to be recognised for their talents and for some, even helped them to come to terms with being in care.*

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Who or What Makes You Proud’ and entries can be submitted online at coramvoice.org.uk/voices18 in any written form including poems, short stories, raps and newspaper articles with a 500 word limit. The competition is grouped in four age categories: primary school, lower secondary school (age 11-14), upper secondary school (age 15-18) and care leavers.

The entries for Voices 2018 will be judged by a panel of experts, each with personal experience of, or a special interest in the care system including:

  • Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor for Channel 4 News
  • Lucy Spraggan, singer-songwriter, and newly approved foster carer
  • Ashley John-Baptiste, BBC reporter and producer
  • Jenny Molloy, author of ‘Hackney Child’
  • Mr Gee, spoken word artist
  • Lola Jaye, author of ‘Orphan Sisters’
  • Lisa Cherry, author of ‘The Brightness of Stars’
  • Dreadlock Alien, slam and performance poet

The winner of each category will receive a tablet** and £100 shopping vouchers, and will be announced by the judges at an awards ceremony in London on 9 April 2018.

“I know that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we can understand each other’s unique experiences. That’s why I am so pleased to judge Voices 2018, a competition that amplifies the voices of young people in the care system and gives them a platform to tell the world their stories.  I can’t wait to read what they produce and celebrate their achievements.”

One of the judges, Lola Jaye commented: “I know that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we can understand each other’s unique experiences. That’s why I am so pleased to judge Voices 2018, a competition that amplifies the voices of young people in the care system and gives them a platform to tell the world their stories.  I can’t wait to read what they produce and celebrate their achievements.”

One young person who previously entered Voices said: “The competition is a safe opportunity to share your personal story – it’s a wonderful way to embrace your history and yourself” and another added “to put what you feel on a piece of paper is quite therapeutic.”

Another previous entrant commented: “It can be the start of a journey… it opens up new opportunities and also shows people the potential you have.”

Voices 2018 is open for entries until 8 February 2018. For more information about the competition and how to enter, please visit coramvoice.org.uk/voices18.

For further information and T&Cs go to  coramvoice.org.uk/voices18

 

 

 

The Big Idea Competition returns in 2018 to search for the best British story idea for children

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Barry Cunningham, Chicken House:

“We’re offering the opportunity for some-one’s idea to become a reality in the Dragon’s Den of children’s storytelling.”

The Big Idea Competition, an industry first, matches a creative story idea with a children’s writer in a collaborative process.  Two finalists from the 2014 competition will have their ideas published as full-length children’s novels in January 2018.

The Big Idea Competition Ltd has announced that its nationwide search for the idea behind the next big story for children will open for entries on Monday 15th January 2018.

The Big Idea Competition seeks to uncover new talent in storytelling, transforming an idea from a member of the public into a book, film, game or play. Its inaugural competition was launched to huge success in 2014.

The Big Idea Competition Ltd is a joint initiative by Chicken House and The Blair Partnership, born out of a desire to find a new way of discovering and creatively developing original story ideas for children and their families.

Entrants from across the UK, aged from 13+, are asked to send in their idea in no more than 750 words for the chance to win a £1,000 cash prize and the promise that their idea will become the inspiration for a complete story, written by a children’s author and published as a book. Their story will also be presented for TV, film, theatre and gaming by experts in the business, Chicken House and The Blair Partnership. Bestsel-ling writers represented by the creators of the competition include: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter creator; Kieran Larwood, author of the award-winning Podkin One Ear series; Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of the award-winning Girl of Ink and Stars; James Dashner, Maze Runner writer, and M.G. Leonard, author of the Beetle Boy series and one of this year’s judges.

Barry Cunningham, Managing Director of Chicken House, said: “Stories remain the most important currency of our lives. A great idea can come from anyone and any-where. It’s where the magic of storytelling begins. We’re very proud to be offering the opportunity for someone’s idea to become a reality in the Dragon’s Den of children’s storytelling.”

Neil Blair, Founding Partner of The Blair Partnership, added:

“The Big Idea Competition is about helping new storytelling talent to emerge in the most inclusive and collaborative way. It’s about finding the right story, matching it with the best storyteller and then making sure it stands out in a crowded marketplace. As judges, we’re searching for an imaginative idea that we think children will truly love.”

The inaugural competition in 2014 received over 1,000 entries. In January 2018, the winner of the 2014 competition, I.T. engineer Neal Jackson, will see his idea, ‘The First Aeronauts’, published as a children’s book called Sky Chasers, written by established author Emma Carroll. Runner up Angela McCann will also have her idea published as The Fandom, written by Anna Day. McCann was an Egyptology student and Day was a clinical psychologist at the time of the competition, but both were huge fans of YA. This is Day’s debut novel, following her Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition win in 2015 with The Gallows Dance. The Fandom is a development of both McCann’s idea and Day’s The Gallows Dance. The book has been Chicken House’s fast-est-ever selling foreign rights title.
Sky Chasers and The Fandom are published by Chicken House to coincide with the competition launch on 15th January 2018, with the Blair Partnership managing the film and TV rights to both titles.
Neal Jackson commented:

“Sky Chasers is the result of me walking into a Clapham bookshop one sunny afternoon and discovering a real-life gem from history, and wishing it was a story for children. The past is full of inspiring and amusing moments, if fewer sunny days – and I am delighted to see my idea at last become fiction!”

Emma Carroll, author of Sky Chasers, added:

“I immediately saw the huge story potential in Neal’s idea, inspired by the invention of the very first air balloon by the Montgolfier brothers in France. The real-life history part is remarkable enough – think roosters, flying sheep, Marie Antoinette. So, the chance to bring it to life on the page was too good an opportunity to miss! Suffice to say, I’ve had great fun weaving history with fiction. I can’t wait for readers to meet my main character Magpie and her band of feathery, four-legged friends.”

How to enter – Think of a story idea that children will love. Download and complete the entry form and send your complete entry to The Big Idea Competition, ℅ Chicken House Pub-lishing, 2 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1DS by 23 February 2018. Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of entry on the competition’s website.

www.thebigideacompetition.co.uk
#TheBigIdeaComp


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