Louie Stowell

What books did you read when you were a child?
A lot of Tolkien, a lot of funny stories like Just William and Roald Dahl, and a lot of comics, especially ones with space battles and futuristic settings. 2000AD was a favourite.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
That’s at tricky question, because in the stories I like best, terrible things generally happen to the characters. Maybe Halo Jones, because although she had to fight in a horrific war, she did at least get to ride in a very cool spaceship.

What is the best thing about reading?
Being able to see and do things that you can’t in real life, whether that’s meeting dragons, or seeing inside another person’s head. It’s like being carried somewhere else. I recently read Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s autobiography, and it felt as though I was really there with him in space.

What is your all time favourite book?
Lord of the Rings. I love books that create new worlds.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Allowing them to play (especially outside, in a not-overly-controlled environment with no access to gadgets) with lots of different children is a good one, and generally giving them opportunities to talk to many different people, of all ages, from all places. Talking about ideas at home is very important, too, in an open-minded way, allowing children to hone their arguing abilities. The ability to be resilient when someone criticises your ideas is incredibly important, I think, and knowing how to form counter-arguments. So, argue with your children, is my top tip apparently!

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
An enormous part - I’d say the vast quantities of books we had at home was pivotal, as it meant I always had a book to suit my mood and I could explore all kinds of different writers just by picking up books by chance or on a whim. I seem to remember (in the woolly distant past of my not-too-reliable memory) that mum taught me to write before I went to school. So it meant junior school was very un-stressful and I could just focus on writing stories and drawing pictures of slightly creepy angels (it was a very religious school).

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don’t have kids but I’ve found the best way to children reading is to give them books that they will actually enjoy, rather than the ones I want them to enjoy, or think they should read at a particular age.

Louie Stowell reads a lot of comics and loves everything to do with space travel. Her latest book, The Astronaut’s Handbook, is a guide to becoming an astronaut and has a foreword from British astronaut Tim Peake.

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