John Boyne

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved CS Lewis’ Narnia books and read them multiple times, although I didn’t go on to be someone who was that interested in fantasy novels. I also enjoyed classic adventure stories, like Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I’d be Barnaby Brocket, from my own novel The Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket, because he floats in the air and constantly travels around the world having new adventures.

What is the best thing about reading?
Escaping into worlds you’ve never visited, experiences you’ve never had, with people you’ve never met. I love losing myself in stories.

What is your all time favourite book?
Charles Dickens – David Copperfield

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Tell them to put away their phones and their gaming devices and talk to them every day, over breakfast or dinner, or just while watching TV. Discuss what’s going on in the world and hear what their children think.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A huge part. They brought me to the library, funded me while I was writing, and always believed that I was good enough. They never once said that I should get ‘a real job’.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
When they were younger, I had a book club with my nephew and niece and we each got to choose a book every month. My niece is now 21 and an English Literature student in university and we talk about books constantly and share recommendations with each other.

John Boyne is the author of 11 novels for adults, 6 for young readers and a collection of short stories. Perhaps best known for his 2006 novel THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, his new book, MY BROTHER'S NAME IS JESSICA, follows twelve-year-old narrator Sam and his relationship with his sister Jessica, a transgender teenager who transitions throughout the course of the novel. The story reflects a family’s journey from a place of ignorance to one of understanding, acceptance and celebration.

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