What was your favourite childhood book and why?
Too many to choose but probably The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell. A nonfiction book about Gerry’s travels in West Africa in the early 1950’s collecting animals for his zoo. It has everything, travel and adventure, great descriptions of animals and is also very funny – full of animal escapes and things going wrong. It made me want to have adventures and travel the world.
Which of your own published books is your favourite and why?
Again over 50 to choose from so it’s hard as I put some of my heart into everything I write. But the Promise is probably my favourite because it carries a message about caring for the planet and about how much difference one person can make. I love it too because it seems to mean the most to children who are having the worst time. I wrote it for children who are having a bad start in life, to show that their lives can get better and their future may be better than their present.
Why do you choose to read?
So many reasons! The first is escape. A good story is like going on a journey of discovery, it’s like exploring. You don’t know what will happen next but you can’t wait to turn the page to find out. The next is learning. You can learn stuff from the internet but lists are pretty dull and I find it easier to learn through reading a well written book by somebody who is really enthusiastic about their subject. And the last reason is thinking. Reading helps you think in two ways: first it shows you the world through someone else’s eyes so you can see things in a new way; second it gives you new ways to explain what you see to yourself and to others, it expands your vocabulary, so it’s like a painter being given a load more colours with which to make pictures of the world. Thinking is underrated and extremely useful. Make sure you do at least five minutes uninterrupted thinking every day. Reading will make that five minutes deeper richer and more useful.