Barry Hutchison

What books did you read when you were a child?
I was one of those kids who read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I loved comics, from The Beano to The Hulk, but read a lot of horror that was probably wildly inappropriate for someone my age. When I was about 11, a friend of my mum's let me borrow on of her Terry Pratchett books, and I went on to devour them all. I've been a fan of funny fiction, and Pratchett in particular, ever since.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?

When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be Wagstaffe from Jan Needle's Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy. Mostly, it was just because Wagstaffe could pee out of his finger, which I thought would be very useful on long car journeys.

What is the best thing about reading?
Adventure! Excitement! Laughter! Tears! There are so many great things about reading. Every book I read transports me to an alternate dimension, without me having to worry about any of that complicated Quantum Physics stuff. Books let you see other worlds and be other people for a while - what could be more fun than that?

What is your all-time favourite book? 
Aaaaargh! I hate this question. My all-time favourite book changes on a near-daily basis, so doesn't really stay "all-time" for long. Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is up there near the top most of the time, though, so let's go with that.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Just spending time together, I think. So often nowadays kids are stuck in the corner with an iPad or whatever, but I know that doing things together - baking, painting, walking the dog or whatever - really makes a difference not just to my kids, but to me as well. Just making time to have rambling conversations about nothing in particular is important, too, I think.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Both my parents were tremendously encouraging, but there was always that note of caution that I shouldn't go putting all my eggs in one basket, and should focus on getting decent exam results while churning out my short stories. I think they were more excited than I was when I got my first publishing deal, and the smile on my mum's face when she got me to sign her copy is one I'll never forget.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?

My son is 14 now, and reads far less than he used to, which is frustrating. Until he hit his teenage years he'd read four books a week, but now he's lucky to get through one a month. Hopefully he'll go back to it, though. My daughter, on the other hand, is six and would read all day long if given the chance. We don't need to encourage her to read so much as encourage her to get dressed, eat her dinner, and do all the other things she has to do in the day!

Barry Hutchison lives halfway up a mountain in the Highlands of Scotland, where he spends his days writing stories and walking his dog. His book Beaky Malone: World's Greatest Liar is out now.

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