What books did you read when you were a child?
I was a big fan of Roald Dahl. I also loved Enid Blyton and as I got older, Judy Bloom.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I would be Heidi. As a child I loved the stories and dreamt of moving the mountains and having my own goat herd. I still fantasise about falling asleep on sheepskin rugs, gazing up at the stars.
What is the best thing about reading?
Being immersed in another world. I love reading at the end of the day; it’s a great way to relax – far better than TV. I pick up a book and I forget all the stresses of the day.
What is your all time favourite book?
I am afraid I don’t have one. I have a terrible memory, so book titles and storylines slip quickly from my mind. However, a couple that have stayed with me are: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami and A Long Way by Sebastian Barry. My favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Dare I controversially say it – let them watch TV. The right shows can teach a child a lot. My 5-Year old struggled with his words. I was told (aged 3) that he had immature speech. TV was a blessing for him, it helped improve his vocabulary no end.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents were very creative. They always encouraged my sister and I to draw and write. They also encouraged us to use our imaginations. My mum was forever making up stories about the animals on our farm and congratulating us for making up our own. Without this influence I would never have created Pig.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
My little girl, who is 2, is really into Peppa Pig and refuses to let me read her any story which isn’t about ‘the pig’. I don’t fight this - what’s the point? I want her to enjoy story time. My son, he’s 5, is just getting into longer books. Right now, I am reading him Captain Underpants which he is enjoying, although I am not convinced he understands it all. I love the Rabbit and Bear series by Julian Gough and Jim Field, and have these lined up to read to him next, along with Alex T Smith’s Mr Penguin series.
I feel the best thing to encourage children to read is to find a book, series or author they enjoy. The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is make child read for readings sake – we, as adults, would never do this, so why would we ask our children to? My stepdaughter who is 9 was very reluctant to read. Then, this spring, she found Jaqueline Wilson and bingo! She’s been happily reading ever since.
Growing up on a farm in Devon, Emer's first ambition was to be a vet. But these dreams were cruelly dashed upon the jagged rocks of career failure by her inability to get a grade of any sort at A-level biology. Lucky for Emer, and for the animal kingdom, she decided to concede defeat and turn her attention to graphic design - record sleeve design. However, this was also not to be: just as she started her design degree, the LP became obsolete.
Hoping it would be third time lucky, Emer embarked on a career in advertising. She moved to London in 1998 and began a long and winding journey through some of the UK's top ad agencies. She finished up in charge of the team who created the John Lewis Christmas ads, and then went out on a high, choosing to jack it in and spend her time writing stories about a farting pig, instead.
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