We had a wonderful opportunity last week to spend an evening with Lauren Child, UK Children's Laureate and Kate DiCamillo, the former U.S National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. This was hosted by another favourite author (and children's book blogger/radio presenter) of ours, Katherine Woodfine, so we knew we were in for a treat.
Katherine started by asking Lauren about how she writes and she admitted it was all very organic - never linear. She wondered initially about creating a character that would have ongoing adventures like those in books that she read when she was younger and remarked upon how lovely it is create a series when you know people are looking forward to the next book. Clarice was the book character that had her own series of books she enjoyed - Ruby Redfort. Lauren Child explained how much fun she had creating the character of Ruby for Clarice's reading pleasure - and how this type of reading was frowned upon by her teacher. She continued to explain how book snobbery can be a problem for parents and teachers but she disagrees vehemently with this saying, 'any book that gives you a sense of you and a sense of escape is perfectly valid' . This is obviously a subject close to her heart and something which we feel she might champion as laureate.
Katherine Woodfine admitted how it'd be great to be a secret agent like Ruby Redford. Kate DiCamillo said her spy talent would be to be small and eavesdrop and they all acknowledged how this is a great skill for being an author! She also said she has a talent for making friends but that she is still baffled by the world - similar to when you are a child. It was that discussed that childhood is intense and she feels that she can still access that intensity to support her writing as a child.
Kate also confessed that she makes no deliberate moves when planning out stories but that it is 'terrifying not knowing if you will get to the end'! Her method is to write a whole first draft then put it away so it can 'marinade' and come back to it later with complete objectivity.
Lauren Child says you need to notice things to be an author; it's vital to keep a notebook! Katherine Woodfine said she uses her phone to take notes but when she reads them back, she can't remember where they came from but they can still make for great story ingredients. When Kate was national ambassador for children's Literature, she used the opportunity to talk about how stories connect us and this is what makes reading is truly a privilege and a joy.
Posted in: Author Event