What do children’s writers and illustrators read in their spare time? In this series of interviews with B.C. book folks, we discuss everything from guilty reading pleasures to the best literary villains. If you’d like to share some favourites of your own, please leave a comment!
Who’s your favourite author/illustrator of all time?
For books for children/YAs it has to be the British author David Almond. His Skellig is a masterpiece, The Fire Eaters just as compelling. He writes fiction I would love to write, poignant themes, beautifully crafted with characters who continue to live in my mind long after the story is over.
Which is best: hardcover, softcover, or e-book?
Paper. Inside a hard or soft cover is no never-mind to me. I’ve yet to read a word recreationally in any electronic form, and don’t expect to have any electronic device any time soon. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but even on a plane or train, in bed in a B&B, or on the beach (when was the last time I was on a beach, other than to walk?) nothing beats pulling a ‘real’ book from my carry-on luggage or suitcase, opening the cover, and disappearing inside. (I can hide behind it, too, to ward off unwanted interruptions!)
Lois in front of the Charles Dickens Museum in London.
What series did you read growing up?
My grandmother was a part-time housekeeper to my school governor Mrs. MacLean who lived in one of those stately Georgian houses with a curving gravel driveway. One evening when Gran was catering a dinner, I was settled into The Hornby Room, up the curving oak staricase on the third floor — the room that had been Mrs. MacLean’s children’s nursery. There, on the shelves that ran all around the room was every book Enid Blyton had written. That evening, with a full roast pheasant dinner perched on the arm of the overstuffed chair, and the opera ‘Carmen’ broadcast from the little TV in the corner (I kid you not!), I got hooked on The Island of Adventure. In the next few years I borrowed each of the Adventure series from the Horby Room, and loved every one. Mention Enid Blyton’s name and I’m back at Mrs. Maclean’s, climbing those dark stairs again to the strains of ‘Tereodor’…
Are you more likely to be caught reading a zombie novel or a sentimental romance?
Neither. I know as a writer I should probably explore all genres and subjects, but I don’t ‘get’ zombies, any more than I do ‘romance’. I have hard enough time understanding the real world, without getting caught up in worlds that tax my imagination.
If you could have dinner with three writers or illustrators, who would you choose?
David Almond of course. Iain Lawrence, a BC writer who keeps a very low profile but whose work I admire a lot. And Sarah Ellis, because I’ve met her once or twice, like her a lot and would like to get to know here better.