MG Leonard

The author of the Beetle series tells us about her favourite books

What was your favourite childhood book?

I have three favourite books from childhood.  The first was The Twits, because of the deliciously rancorous and mischievous relationship between Mr and Mrs Twit.  I adored The Wind in the Willows, for the characters and friendship between Moley, Ratty, Toad and Badger, and I loved The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden sowed a seed in my imagination that grew into the thought that I too could become a gardener even though I grew up with a limited relationship with the natural world.  My favourite is always one of these three but it changes depending on my mood.

Which of your own published books is your favourite and why?

It is almost impossible to choose which of the books I have written is my favourite.  I tend to crush hard on whichever is the newest.  If I was forced to choose, I would pick Beetle Boy because it was an education.  The experience of creating it changed me inside and out.  I spent six years researching beetles before I could write it, and it was the book that taught me how to write a book, for I had to rewrite it many times.  I owe Beetle Boy my career.

Why do you choose to read?

Stories, whether read or listened to, are one of the most powerful mediums through which humans can explore and come to understand the world and their place in it.  It is impossible to overstate their importance.  If you don't believe me, consider the power of a religious book like the Bible.  Reading is a powerful tool for exploration and personal growth, and it is my very favourite pastime.  There is nothing that I know, that I didn't first read in a book.  When I am lost, confused or in pain, I turn to books.  If I want to escape or experience something new or exotic, I find a book.  Screens are a powerful medium in our culture, but nothing is as powerful as creating your own movie inside your head.  That is what we do when we read stories.