What books did you read when you were a child?
I only ever had two books as a child – Enid Blyton’s Island of Adventure and The Ladybird Book of British Birds. In secondary school it was straight into ‘classics’ so I never really read children’s books as a child. Even if I’d been surrounded by books I still would have thought playing football was more important.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Most lead characters are little heroes, battling against the odds and winning through to defeat the baddies. That can get a bit tiresome. So I’d have to be a villain – Long John Silver would be my choice, Jim lad.
What is the best thing about reading?
Escaping into another world, living dangerously through the characters – facing death and desolation, hardships and hair-raising adventures – while remaining safe. (Until the nightmares kick in at bedtime, of course.)
What is your all-time favourite book?
The Napoleon of Notting Hill by GK Chesterton. Fantasy with a serious and thought-provoking theme of the dangers of investing power in the hands of a single ruler. Yet it is an entertaining tale with unexpected twists, original characters and the most powerful painting of word-pictures.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Children can be enabled to share social situations with their peers. Playing football, trainspotting, cycle trips with friends developed my communication skills. Anything where adults were not present, imposing rules, worked for me. Parents can enable… then go away.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I came from a family with a father who could read competently but chose not to read a book. My mother was too busy to read and school was too focused on testing and exams to teach anything other than “correct” writing/grammar. No one ever encouraged my creative writing skills.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don’t press my grandchildren to read. They have a selection of books and they choose when they want to sit down with a book. The twins (boy and girl age 4) have different tastes while Oliver (age 2) is obsessed with Tractor Ted and The Gruffalo. If that genius Julia Donaldson would write The Gruffalo’s Tractor I would kiss her.
Terry Deary is the author of over 200 fiction and non-fiction books, which have been published in 40 languages. This year he brings Shakespeare’s plays to life with four gripping adventures and laugh-out loud comedy in time for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth in the shops now, and Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet publishing in June 2016.
Read more author interviews here.