What books did you read when you were a child?
I read all the time, nose constantly in a book. All the classics, all The Fairy Books of Andrew Lang, all of Dickens, any historical fiction I could get my hands on, especially Cynthia Harnett. No Enid Blyton or Arthur Ransome!
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Mole from The Wind in the Willows.
What is the best thing about reading?
A good book can take you anywhere – Tudor England, a bustling souk, a fairy castle, Outer Mongolia, in a rabbit burrow or atop the tallest tree in the forest. Any land, and the past or future. It will feed the imagination, stop the clocks, make you cry, or fill you with joy. Its parameters are limitless.
What is your all time favourite book?
Only one? Impossible!! It used to be The Lord of the Rings which I have read more times than I can remember but now it would probably be the biggest, most comprehensive poetry anthology ever with thousands of poems!
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk constantly about anything and everything with them, not at them. Show the example of always reading themselves and having a house full of books all waiting to be discovered.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Absolutely none! I was never read to as a child but fortunately discovered books by myself with some help from my dotty Great Aunt.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
That would depend totally on the child. There is an undefinable magic about a great children’s book, you know it immediately, and these are the ones we should share.
Not so much a biography but the defining moment that set me on my path towards my love of poetry. When I was little I used to spend a great deal of time with my Grannie and Great Aunt and being elderly, they used to take a rest in the afternoon. I was usually with my Grannie because she had the radio playing. And on one particular afternoon which I can remember so clearly despite the intervening sixty plus years, I heard The Lady of Shalott read aloud – and I was hooked for life.
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