What books have had a major influence on you, and in what ways?
The Bible has had the most influence on me because I had never read it but had formed an opinion (negative) about religion by what others thought or by what my parents taught me. I tried to read the Old Testament but I hated it. I felt myself become deeply angered by what I thought was an unreasonable and mean God. I was told to read the New Testament because the teachings of Jesus were easier to understand. Jesus’s words were highlighted in red and they did have a big impact on me. I was quite amazed at his teaching and found it very inspirational. My curiosity got the better of me and before you know it I was hooked. The Bible became one of the most amazing reads and I finally understood why they called it the Living Word. I can now say that I’ve read it from start to finish a number of times over the years and I can understand the Old Testament better now and see how the Qur’an was derived from the Old Testament and how so many religions were formed as break-offs along the way.
All up, it gave me a clearer understanding of the history of the world and answered a multitude of questions that I had wrestled with for years. It also put a stop to my agonising search for some meaning as to why we exist, and I can now accept myself as imperfect but still lovable rather than striving to hide my imperfections and beating myself up for not having it all together.
To Kill a Mockingbird had an influence on me at a young age because of its wisdom in showing you rather than telling you. Atticus was quite a powerful character and I suppose it impacted me because Atticus’s relationship with his children was so strong. He was patient and took the time to speak to his children about what was going on in the world and why people behaved the way they did. I envied that and I learned some valuable lessons from that book.
Go Ask Alice had a huge influence on me. We had to read it as part of our English curriculum and that book literally saved me from ever wanting to experiment with drugs. What happened to Alice scared me enough to swear I’d never touch drugs. Unfortunately, it never mentioned alcohol so I can’t claim to have been a squeaky clean teenager. Did I mention I wasn’t perfect?
What books were dear to you as a child and why?
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my absolute favourite! I was completely hooked after reading it and wanted to know more about the world of Narnia so I read the Chronicles of Narnia which is a collection of seven books. The first book is called The Magician’s Nephew. This book explains how the White Witch came into power in Narnia and turned Narnia into a freezing Winterland. The next book is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe followed by The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. They are fantastic and incredibly imaginative with fascinating characters and creatures. I lost count as to how many times I reread them.
Do you think that these works would be relevant or popular for children today?
Absolutely! They are only now in recent years being made into films, much to my delight and even more exciting that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was recently completed at Warner Bros studios in the Gold Coast, five minutes from where I live! When books are made into films it inspires young people to read the books because they want to know all about them once they’ve seen one film.
What are your thoughts on publishing for children in the twenty-first century?
I think that children still want the same experience now as years ago, that is to be taken on an adventure and far away from the daily mundane existence, they perceive their lives to be. The proof is in the huge success of Harry Potter and the Twilight books. They also still love heroes because that’s them in the centre of that story, facing unimaginable obstacles and still coming through it all in the end. There needs to be hope.