As BOAMBF draws closer, we thought you’d like to meet the team bringing Bradford on Avon its very own Mini Book Festival. First up is Anna Wilson.
Anna lives in Bradford on Avon and is the author of many books for young children, including PUP IDOL, KITTEN KABOODLE and MONKEY BUSINESS. She also writes books for teens such as SUMMER’S SHADOW and the recently published THE PARENT PROBLEM, which has been selected for the Big Friendly Read. Congratulations, Anna! Tell us more.
Thank you! THE PARENT PROBLEM is a family comedy for 9-12s. It was inspired by being COMPLETELY MORTIFIED by my own parents – and just about everything else that happened to me – when I was 12. I have made up a *few* things, so it is not all true . . . I am very happy that The Reading Agency likes the book so much it has been picked for one of the recommended reads for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Reading, reading, reading, reading.
Oh, and did I mention reading?
The more I read, the more I want to write. I also love meeting other writers, as they inspire me to keep going and they provide me with more to READ! (When I say ‘Reading’, I am of course talking about what you do with a book, not the town in Berkshire. Although I have done some school visits there which were pretty inspiring.)
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED IN BOAMBF?
I kind of sort of came up with the idea while chatting to fellow author and BOAMBFer, Alex Campbell. We saw that Bradford on Avon had lots of festivals for music and dance and art and pretty much everything EXCEPT children’s books. We thought, ‘This can’t be right’, so talked to our local author friends, the bookshop Ex Libris, and the lovely librarians, and lo and behold, it came to pass that BOAMBF was born.
WHAT DOES BOAMBF MEAN TO YOU?
Literally, it means Bradford on Avon Mini Book Festival. Figuratively, it means a fun, fab day of creating, writing, talking about books, getting together with other writers, and encouraging people to come to the library, use their local bookshops and READ! (It’s all about reading for me, basically. Can you tell?)
WHAT DO LIBRARIES MEAN TO YOU?
Libraries mean everything to me. If I had not had access to a public library and a well-stocked school and university library when I was younger, I would not have become a writer. You cannot be a writer unless you are a reader first, because reading teaches you how stories work. Libraries provided me with lots of FREE books. I could go in once a week and choose a STACK of books of all different kinds, and it meant that if I didn’t like one, I didn’t have to finish it because I hadn’t spent any money on it, so I didn’t feel guilty. I also found all the librarians to be friendly, knowledgeable people who would recommend books to me if I was stuck and didn’t know what to choose.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING AT THE FESTIVAL?
I will be running a workshop called ‘Crazy Characters and Wonderful Worlds’ and I will show you that it is possible to brainstorm a story idea from JUST TWO WORDS! We will have fun together thinking up all the ingredients we need for our story plan, then YOU will write, draw, make cartoons, and just plain SPLURGE your stories on to the page. It is all about making a mess and letting your imagination run riot. Not like school: no rulers, rubbers or correcting pens in sight!
DO YOU DO SCHOOL VISITS/FESTIVALS ETC.? DO YOU ENJOY DOING THEM?
I do a lot of school visits. I have not done so many festivals. To be honest, school visits are more rewarding. They might not have the glamour of getting your photo in a shiny brochure and getting to eat cake with Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson, but schools are where I meet my readers face-to-face. I give talks in schools, explaining where I get ideas from and hopefully inspiring kids to go away and write their own stories. I also run workshops which are interactive, involve a lot of silliness and usually produce some incredible work from the children of which they are very proud. One teacher told me a boy in her class had never finished writing a story before, but after one of my workshops he went home and finished one just for fun and showed her the next day in class. This is what it is all about: inspiring children to read and write and never give up.
AT AN EVENT, WHAT IS THE BEST QUESTION YOU’VE EVER BEEN ASKED/MOST EMBARRASSING/HILARIOUS THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED?
I can tell the worst question. It was ‘Are you Jacqueline Wilson’s mum?’ Now, I have nothing against Jacqueline Wilson, but let’s just say she is more likely to be MY mum than the other way around! And NO, WE ARE NOT RELATED!
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened is that I slipped on a slippery floor while I was acting out a scene from one of my books and I landed flat on my back. I had to get up and carry on and pretend I had meant to do it, even though I was in agony!
OUCH! WHAT HAS BEEN THE STRANGEST VENUE YOU’VE EVER APPEARED IN?
I’m not sure I have been in a strange place exactly, but I have been to some exotic and interesting places. I once went on a book tour to Malta and had to give a talk in front of the Minister for Education. Before I arrived, I didn’t know he was going to be there. I had planned to tell lots of stories in my talk involving rude things about dogs and cats peeing and pooing all over the place. I took a deep breath and gave the talk anyway, and the Minister came up afterwards, shook my hand and said it was very funny and asked if he could have a selfie with me!
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR?
This is almost impossible to answer as I have so many favourites. Also a lot of my friends are authors, so if I chose only one I would probably offend people. I was, however, a HUGE fan of Roald Dahl when I was younger, and I did get to meet him when I was ten. I still have his autograph which is very precious to me.
TELL US A JOKE
Orange you glad I got rid of all those bananas?
THANK YOU, ANNA. WE MAY BE GROANING JUST A LITTLE AT THAT JOKE BUT WE ARE REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AT THE FESTIVAL, AND DELIGHTED THAT THE PARENT PROBLEM IS INCLUDED IN THE BIG FRIENDLY READ.