Unity will be hosting a celebration of Elaine Bickell’s children’s picture book illustrated by Raymond McGrath, The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! (Scholastic), winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley award. Join us 6-7:30pm Thursday 5th September, all ages welcome.
Elaine let us know about some of her favourite books and authors, from Julia Donaldson to Ken Follett, some of whom are invited to sample some Gruffalo crumble.
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
Because it is fun. Even when it’s difficult it’s fun. For me writing picture books is like doing a puzzle. It’s like a game where you have to tell a complete story in as few words as possible with a beginning, a middle and an end and make it funny, engaging, interesting, exciting… It feels impossible until suddenly you solve the puzzle and it all starts coming together.
WHERE AND HOW DO YOU WRITE?
Mostly in my kitchen where it is sunny. I have a writing room but it is a room for a lot of other things too, like toys and washing and school uniforms so I moved out and left the mess behind.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
I have just re-read The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. I don’t usually re-read anything these days but I was on holiday with my friend recently and she reminded me what a great book it is so when I got home I just had to have another read. It has been many years since I first read it. I remember really enjoying the book the first time but this time I loved it. The reverse chronology and the way Sarah Waters handles the passing of time had a much greater poignancy for my older self.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
My all time favourite children’s writer is Julia Donaldson. I love her mastery of rhythm and rhyme, and her humour. I am also a big fan of John Burningham, Juliette MacIver and Aaron Blabey.
I really enjoy the escapism of historical fiction and read everything by Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Ken Follett.
And I really enjoy reading poetry. My current favourites are Hollie McNish and Kate Tempest. Raw and relatable.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
A huge random pile mostly from Unity.
So many books, so little time.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
I recently read and then watched the BBC dramatisation of Gentleman Jack from the diaries of Anne Lister. The book was totally gripping because Anne Lister was an amazing and smart woman who was absolutely true to herself despite the era. The BBC adaptation was outstanding.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Probably The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. These were my go to comfort books when I was a child.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?
Georgina (Sorry, I mean George) from the Famous Five.
And Tiddler – a fish with a big imagination who tells tall tales.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?
WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
They are shelved at least but not organised at all other than adults to the right, kids to the left. One day I will sort them out. I just got a quote for more bookshelves, that will help!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
The following by Julia Donaldson is magic.
I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
my town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
and lived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
and followed their road with its bumps and bends
to the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
but I have a book inside me.