Author of the Month- April

april author

FS

Listen to an interview with FrancescaFrancesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and started writing stories from the age of eight. She then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She threw away a lucrative career as a medievalist and worked as a freelance journalist, writing for the Sunday Times, Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Telegraph, and Vogue (US).

It was reading so many stories to her son Joshua, that encouraged her to start writing children’s books and many of Francesca’s stories have been inspired by real life situations. One of Francesca’s most successful and irrepressible creations has been the famous (or should that be infamous) Horrid Henry, who first appeared in 1994.

Horrid Henry has gone on to conquer the globe and his adventures are published in 27 languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2008, Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman won the Children’s Book of the Year Award at the Galaxy British Book Awards.

Francesca is one of the nation’s most popular authors and has written over fifty books for children of all ages. When she is not writing, Francesca is often encouraging and inspiring young writers and has judged many writing competitions for schools. She has also been a judge for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. In 2009, in one of the proudest moments of her career, Francesca was awarded a Gold Blue Peter badge.hh_pen

 

Author of the Month- March

March author

AH

8528-anthony-horowitz-2-242393Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz started writing because he wanted to be like Tintin. He has now travelled to all the places that Tintin has been – apart from the moon!

His Alex Rider series is one of the most popular children’s book series ever, and the first Alex Rider book, Stormbreaker, became a major Hollywood film. In 2003, Anthony won the Red House Children’s Book Award (voted for by children) for Skeleton Key.

He is also the author of the highly acclaimed Diamond Brothers detective stories, as well as the bestselling The Power of Five books, which were inspired by a simple thought. “Isn’t it more exciting to imagine these great battles with all their magic and mystery happening in the very high street where you live, just out of the corner of your eye?”

Anthony lives in central London with his wife Jill Green, a TV producer, and their sons Nicholas and Cassian. His whole family gets involved in his writing. Jill has produced several of Anthony’s scripts, including the drama serial Foyle’s War, which won the Lew Grade Audience Award in 2003. His son Cassian is already a seasoned actor, having appeared in three of his shows, and Nicholas, his oldest son, has helped Anthony to research the Alex Rider books by trying his hand at everything from scuba-diving to snowboarding and surfing.

In 2013, Anthony was awarded an OBE for services to literature.

Author of the Month- February

feb author

david walliams

136614-davidwalliams-1-922590David Walliams

David Walliams is a comedian, writer and actor and is best known for his partnership with Matt Lucas on the hugely popular sketch show Little Britain.

David and Matt met in 1990 at the National Youth Theatre and were brought together by their shared love of Reeves and Mortimer. The pair wrote three bestselling series of  Little Britain between 2003 and 2005, and the series spawned both a live stage show and US spin off. They have also starred in other TV and stage productions, including Rock Profile and Come Fly With Me.

David is also well known for his charitable work for Sports Relief, part of Comic Relief. He took up swimming in his youth because he was overweight, and has subsequently completed long distance swims of the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the River Thames, raising millions of pounds for charity!

In 2008 David’s first children’s book The Boy in the Dress was published, illustrated by Quentin Blake. This was followed by Mr Stink in 2009, which won the Lincolnshire Young People’s Book Award, the inaugural People’s Book Prize and is currently being adapted into a stage musical. Billionaire Boy followed in 2010, and has won several prizes including the Sheffield Children’s Book Prize and the Stockport Book Award. Gangsta Granny was published in 2011 and quickly became of the bestselling children’s books of the year.

Author of the Month- January

january author

MM

Michael Morpurgo is, in his own words, “oldish, married with three children, and a grandfather six times over.” Born in 1943, he attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury (one at least of which was horrible enough to inspire him to describe it obliquely in The Butterfly Lion). He went on to London University to study English and French, followed by a step into the teaching profession and a job in a primary school in Kent. It was there that he discovered what he wanted to do.

“We had to read the children a story every day and my lot were bored by the book I was reading. I decided I had to do something and told them the kind of story I used to tell my kids – it was like a soap opera, and they focused on it. I could see there was magic in it for them, and realised there was magic in it for me.”

In 1976 Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms For City Children (FFCC), which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city and urban areas by providing them with a week in which they work actively and purposefully on farms in the heart of the countryside. They now have three farms – Nethercott in Devon, Treginnis in Wales and Wick in Gloucestershire. “As a teacher I realised many children had little real contact with the world around them – to them the television was real. I wanted them to experience life at first hand.” In the last 30 years over, 50,000 children from cities and towns throughout the UK have spent a week of their lives living and working on one of the three farms.

Living in Devon, listening to Mozart, and working with children have provided most of the stimulae Michael needs to discover and write his stories. He spends about half his life mucking out sheds with the children, feeding sheep or milking cows; the other half he spends dreaming up and writing stories. “For me, the greater part of writing is daydreaming, dreaming the dream of my story until it hatches out – the writing down of it I always find hard. But I love finishing it, then holding the book in my hand and sharing my dream with my readers.”

Author of the Month- December

dec author

TD

Terry Deary’s Biography

terry                        Terry was born in Sunderland, England, in 1946 and now lives in County Durham, in the North-east of England.

Terry’s father (Billy) was a butcher in Hendon, Sunderland, and his mother (Freda) was the manageress of a clothing shop. He worked many years in his father’s butcher shop as a boy. It was better than school where he was beaten, bullied and abused by his loathsome teachers.

Terry began his career as a professional actor in 1972 when he joined Theatre Powys in Mid-Wales. He has also worked as a theatre-director, museum manager, drama teacher, television presenter. He first acted on television in 1973 and in 2010 he made his debut in movies with a small part in a British film “Risen”

As an actor with Theatre Powys Terry began writing scripts for some of the shows. One of the most successful was a children’s show called “The Custard Kid“. The “Custard Kid” tour ended but Terry didn’t want to lose the exciting tale so he turned it into a children’s novel. That first novel was published by A & C Black who are still publishing his books 35 years later.

In 35 years as an author his writing has included fiction and popular non-fiction. He also writes TV, theatre, radio, audio and new media scripts.

In 2009 CBBC Television launched a major television series of his Horrible Histories which has gone on to win several Children’s BAFTA awards. In February 2011 the TV series won a British Comedy Award for best sketch show – the first children’s show ever to win a Comedy Award. The same month Terry Deary became the 10th most-borrowed authorin British libraries.

In 2010 there was a computer game adaptation for Nintendo Wii, DS and PC. A series of theatre plays, ‘Horrible Histories’, have been created in collaboration with Birmingham Stage Company touring throughout 2006 – 2012.

His next projects are with film companies to animate a 28-part worldwide television series “Terry Deary’s True Time Tales” as well as adapting his “The Fire Thief” trilogy of fiction for movies. In 2011 Terry will scriupt a movie about football called 90 Minutes.

His charity work includes being patron of Single Homeless Action Initiative in Derwentside (SHAID), Grace House Children’s Hospice appeal and Integrating Children is a small charity based in North Durham providing children with disabilities the chance to take part in leisure activities and enjoy the same opportunities as the non-disabled .

Terry was awarded a degree as Doctor of Education at Sunderland University in 2000 and is an ambassador for his home city of Sunderland. In 2011 he won the Sheffield Childrten’s Book award for his novel “Put out the light” – a book that was also nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 2012.

Terry has been married to Jenny since 1975 and their daughter Sara is a talented event rider who competes at international level. See her Shivers Event Team website. In June 2011 Sara had twins, Harry and Jessica, Terry and Jenny’s first grand-children.

In his spare time Terry is a road runner with Derwentside Athletic Club and takes part in races from 3 miles up to the Great North Run 13.1 miles.

Author of the Month- November

november author

JD

Growing up

I grew up in a tall terraced Victorian London house with my parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle, younger sister Mary and cat Geoffrey (who was really a prince in disguise. Mary and I would argue about which of us would marry him).

Mary and I were always creating imaginary characters and mimicking real ones, and I used to write shows and choreograph ballets for us. A wind-up gramophone wafted out Chopin waltzes.

I studied Drama and French at Bristol University, where I met Malcolm, a guitar-playing medic to whom I’m now married.

Answers to your questions

Q When did you decide to be a writer?

A For my fifth birthday, my father gave me a very fat book called “The Book of a Thousand Poems”. I loved it. I read the poems, recited them, learnt them, and then started making up some of my own. Although I wanted to be a poet all those years ago, I later decided I would rather go on the stage. That didn’t quite work out, so I did other jobs – teaching and publishing. But somehow I’ve ended up doing what I wanted to do when I was five years old. I have a theory that this happens to quite a lot of people.

Q When did you start to write books?

A In 1993, when one of my songs, “A Squash and a Squeeze” was made into a book. Before that I just wrote songs for children’s television.

Q Where do you get your ideas?

A Anywhere and everywhere: things that happen to my children; memories of my own childhood; things people say; places I go to; old folk tales and fairy stories. The hard part for me is not getting the idea, it is turning it into a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Q How long does it take to write a book?

A It can take months or years for the idea to grow in my head and for me to plan the book. This is a very important part. Then, when I am ready it could take anything between a week (for a picture book) and six months (for a chapter book) to write it. For THE GRUFFALO the ideas and planning stage lasted a year (obviously I was doing other things too!) and the actual writing took about two weeks.

Q Where do you write?

A In my head when I’m in the bath or out for a walk. (I do have my own study, too, and sometimes I write on trains or in the library.)

Q How do you find an illustrator?

A The publisher knows lots of illustrators and they choose the one which they think would suit my words best. (They usually ask me first if I like the illustrator’s work.)

Q Where did the inspiration for the Gruffalo come from?

A The book was going to be about a tiger but I couldn’t get anything to rhyme with “tiger”. Then I thought up the lines: “Silly old Fox, doesn’t he know/There’s no such thing as a _________________ ” and somehow the word “gruffalo” came to mind to fill the gap. The gruffalo looks the way he does because various things that just happened to rhyme (like toes and nose, and black and back)

Q Do you like being an author?

A I find the actual writing quite hard work. I often get stuck, or feel that I’m plodding along in an uninspired way. But when I realise that a story is working after all it’s a very exciting feeling – and I love doing all the polishing touches at the end (or “tweaking” as publishers call it). It’s lovely when the first rough illustrations arrive and I see how my characters are going to look.

Q How many books have you written?

A I have written 167 books. (66 of them can be bought in shops, and the other 101 are for schools.)

Q Which one of your books is your favourite?

A It keeps changing. At the moment I have two: “The Snail and the Whale” for younger children and “The Giants and the Joneses” for older ones.

Q What are your hobbies?

A Walking, cycling, playing the piano, singing. I’m also interested in wild flowers and fungi.

Q Do you have any pets?

A I have a black cat called Goblin whose favourite hobby is going in the garden, getting his paws muddy and then walking all over whatever I have just been writing.

The Gruffalo read by Leah

Top 10 books

Top 10 books this week:

1. One Direction: The Official Annual 2014

2. Minecraft: The Official Annual 2014

3. Peppa Pig: The Official Annual 2014

4. Doctor Who: Official Annual 2014

5. Disney Princess Annual 2014

6. Skylanders Official Annual 2014

7. Moshi Monsters Official Annual 2014

8. Horrible Histories Annual 2014

9. Dandy Annual 2014

10. Top Gear Official Annual 2014

Top 20 books this week

Top 20 books w/b 14th October 2013

1. Demon Dentist by David Walliams

2. Diamond- Hetty Feather 4 by Jacqueline Wilson

3. Dodger by Terry Pratchett

4. How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero- How to Train Your Dragon 11 by Cressida Cowell

5. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

6. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

7. The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

8. Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

9. Model Misfit- Geek Girl 2 by Holly Smale

10. Mr Stink by David Walliams and Quentin Blake

11. Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Man by Derek Landy

12. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

13. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

14. City of Ashes- Mortal Instruments book2 by Cassandra Clare

15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

16. United We Spy- Gallagher Girls 6 by Ally Carter

17. Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at Some Things) by Liz Pichon

18. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney

20. Fortunately, the Milk… by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell