Tanya Landman is the author of the Poppy Fields murder mystery series, the first of which, Mondays are Murder, won the Red House Children's Book Award; also Waking Merlin; Merlin's Apprentice; The World's Bellybutton; The Kraken Snores; three stories for younger children featuring the characters Flotsam and Jetsam; and two critically acclaimed novels for teenagers, Apache and The Goldsmith's Daughter. Tanya runs Storybox Theatre, a touring puppet theatre for children, with her husband Rod Burnett. They have two sons and lives in Bideford, Devon.
Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: Anything I could get my hands on. I adored Stig of the Dump, Charlotte’s Web, Elidor, Emil and the Detectives, and everything Penelope Lively wrote for children.
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Stig. I belong in a dump. Definitely. (Some would say I already live in one.)
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: Getting totally lost in another world without having to leave the room.
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: Eeek! I can’t pick just one! If you nailed my feet to the floor and MADE me choose I’d probably go for Stig of the Dump. Or The Whispering Knights. Or Elidor. Aaaah! Impossible.
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Switch off the television! My youngest son managed to kill our TV set with a banana when he was a toddler (long story). I wasn’t too thrilled at the time but it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of staring at the screen we talked, played, built lego castles, went for walks on the beach - did proper stuff for real.
Now my children are in their teens I try to make sure we have proper sit-around-the-table-and-chat family meals – especially long, lazy Sunday lunches.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: I didn’t start writing until relatively recently but my Mum has always been very encouraging about everything I’ve ever done. It’s what Mums are for.
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: I read to them from the time they were very small – there’s nothing nicer than snuggling up with a picture book. When they were older we did ‘chapter books’ as bedtime reads – my old favourites and ones they picked out themselves. Our house is crammed with books so they’ve always had plenty of choice. (In fact, I’m slightly worried the weight of them might bring the walls down...)