At the moment, I am writing a free in between story for our willblyton.com website. It is called” Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys” and I’m being either brave or stupid as the work in progress is being posted. The Will Blyton books are aimed at 9-12 year olds and explore time travel and will be introducing William Shakespeare and his plays in the books and free stories.
The setting for Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys is a children’s literary festival in 2006. This probably seems like a strange place to set a children’s story but around that time my family were going to a lot of children’s literary festivals and seeing a very mixed bag of children’s writers. This was one of the reasons I felt the urge to set a children’s story at a fictional festival. Seeing such a range of different approaches is truly entertaining and the festivals are worth attending if it is just for that and nothing else.
Some of the writers embrace the idea of talking about their books as if they secretly wanted to be rock stars but it never happened. Others dress elegantly but timidly tell of how they were told that they were a children’s writer and not a science fiction writer. The variation is endless but I must not forget the ones who made me want to rush for the nearest exit as I wondered if it was the effort of their writing which had left the lifeless slugs drawling before me. Forgive me for sounding wicked with the last lot but you try sitting through a session with one of them and I bet you could teach me a thing or two on evil thoughts.
The second reason I wanted to write a story set at a fictional festival is that I have seen the effect literary festivals have on children and their reading. My teenage son told me recently that he believes that going to literary festivals when younger definitely spurred him on to read more. More than that, however, I have seen and heard the excitement of children wriggling in their seats whilst they wait for a favourite author to take the chair on the stage. The atmosphere buzzes and the air is filled with energy – yes we are talking about author appearances not football stadiums or rock concerts. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of children get to them because not enough parents and teachers realise what excellent value for money they are – going to children’s literary festivals is not a very well-known activity, more so in certain areas than others. It seemed then to be a good idea to set a story at a festival and hopefully it might put the idea of going to a festival to the actual children themselves.
This only leaves me to ask “how do you choose your settings? Is it a desire to be in a certain time and place, something which echoes theme and plot or do you choose settings because you think they are popular with readers and will sell more books? I would love to know your thoughts.
- Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter One. (willblyton.com)
- Prologue – Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys (willblyton.com)
- Hay Festival Literary review featuring David Simon, Allan Bennet, Monica Ali and more , Festivals (visitwales.co.uk)
- West Cork Literary Festival 2012 (annasbananasaboutbooks.wordpress.com)