Christine Hamill

What books did you read when you were a child?
When I was very young I loved Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Proysen about an incredible shrinking woman, then The Borrowers by Mary Norton… Can you see a theme emerging? I also loved A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (not as girly as it sounds, more riches to rags to riches).

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Sara Crewe from A Little Princess: she has to live in a stinky attic but even that appealed to me, and then of course she ends up loaded – and happy!

What is the best thing about reading?
It transports you into another world entirely and you can be part of that world and nothing else matters for the time you are reading.

What is your all time favourite book?
Impossible question but here goes… The Growing Summer by Noel Streatfield about four London kids sent to stay with their barmy aunt in Ireland. She doesn’t pay them any attention and they get to do whatever they want.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to them. Explain stuff. Listen. When my son was about 3 months old an elderly relative laughed at me and said, ‘She’s in there talking to him!’ My son could talk before he could walk….

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents didn’t have much formal education but my father told us bedtime stories (mostly about Brer Rabbit) and my mother tested our spelling! Most significantly, she also got us our library cards and that is where I got my books - writers are readers first.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
This was my favourite job as a parent. Small kids love copying their parents so if they see you reading they will want to do it. All-time favourites: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell; Little Pete Stories by Leila Berg; Rover by Michael Rosen; Fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk; Horrid Henry books by Francesca Simon; and a picture book I made specially for my son called ‘Professor’ about the day his cuddly toy went missing. He’s 19 now but I still stop him on the stairs with a book or poem I’m reading and say, ‘Wait to you hear this…’

Christine grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland with her seven siblings, mum, dad, a dog, a hutch full of rabbits, and a shed full of pigeons. She moved to Belfast in the 1980s to go to university and she lives there now. She’s also lived in Bristol, England and in Tenerife, Spain, where she taught English to young children.

Christine writes books for both adults and children. Her book The Best Medicine has been shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards. You can vote for your favourite book on the shortlist at www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies.

Read more author interviews here.

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