Lessons From the Library.

I remember when I was about four or five years old being introduced to my local library.  I’m eternally grateful because it was here, more than anywhere else that I was introduced to the world of books.  I fell in love with Miffy books and the entire collection of Beatrix Potter.  I think it was the size of these books, as well as the illustrations which won me over.

These days, I regard my local library as my second home.  Some years ago, I joined the Classic Book Club.  It was the perfect way to get out of the house and actually talk about books.  We have since covered Jane Austen, the Brontes and Australian classics.  People may have come and gone, yet there are a handful, like myself, that have stuck with it and we have all become friends.

It is also at my local library where my writers’ group gathers to meet others to discuss writing.  Through author talks, it is here that I have met well known children’s authors Andy Griffiths and John Flanagan.  It’s always a pleasure to meet other writers and hear them talk about the writing process.

Along with any good bookshop, I enjoy going to my local library to meet with other like minded people and talk about what’s important – books.

Finding Advice at Author Talks.

Recently, I attended an author visit by John Flanagan, author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series.  The series began as a collection of short stories for his young son, who was not interested in reading.  Although the series was originally meant for young boys, the series has a large following amongst girls (John took his publishers advice on introducing a strong female).  The books have since gone on to sell millions of copies throughout the world, been translated into various languages and has won many awards.

John was entertaining, informative and great with the children.  A highlight was his ‘show and tell’ – being a longbow, which he got some of the children to demonstrate.  Here is his advice to writers just starting out:-

  • Plan your story – you wouldn’t get in your car without knowing exactly where you were going.
  • Story ideas can be found anywhere – it could be as simple as just walking down the street.
  • Character names can also be found anywhere – one character’s name was found upon a billboard in Tamworth advertising a local business (of course, some alterations had to be made).
  • Although rejection letters can feel personal, your story may not suit the publishers’ requirements, or the publisher may recently have accepted something similar.  John was rejected about nine times!
  • Be persistent – John Flanagan almost gave up trying until one of his children reminded him of those short stories he had written some time ago (they later went on to become the Ranger’s Apprentice series).

Attending author talks can be very rewarding – not only do you learn about the author’s work, you also get a feel for their personality and see how they interact with their readers.   I recommend it to anyone.

Image by Debbie Johansson.