As a writer I have the wonderful opportunity of reliving my childhood each time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I suppose this isn't the case with all writers, but, as a children's writer, I'm lucky because I do. I have the enviable prospect of not ever having to grow up!
One of my earliest memories, after remembering the quite horrible experience of being run over by a reversing trash truck as an unfortunate five year old, was the movie Star Wars.
I watched Star Wars, now annoyingly called "Star Wars IV A New Hope", again last week on TV and it had the same magical appeal to me as it did when I was a spotty blonde haired seven year old. For a couple of wonderful hours I drifted back over thirty years to a summer's day in 1977. I forgot about meeting publishers deadlines, preparing for school visits, paying bills, walking dogs, feeding chickens. For that couple of hours I was seven again! Yippee!
In August 1977 my parents, my brother and I spent a wonderful afternoon in a local cinema to experience the phenomena that had arrived from across the Atlantic. We all sat open-mouthed as the opening scenes blasted their way into our minds forever with that unbelievable first battle scene. What about the robots, the monsters, the space ships, Chewy and the Death Star? The whole movie was a revelation. After the movie had finished we talked non-stop on the ride home, then we recreated the battle scenes in the garden. Over the rest of the summer we built stormtrooper outfits from trash and we mimicked Darth Vader breathing. I wanted to be Han Solo, my brother wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I think he secretly still does!
To those of us who grew up in the 1970's it seemed like it was alway summertime. It was a decade of wonder. Maybe everyone's childhood does seem like that. Long, hot days were spent playing outside with lots of friends. For the odd times we weren't outside the TV and cinemas were full of exciting action adventures that we soaked up like sponges. On the TV there was the Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and Logan's Run. At the movies there were Star Trek movies, the Empire struck back with a second Star Wars film and there were countless imitations that, although inferior, still proved a major attraction to us kids.
When I started writing about four years ago, it was just like I'd stepped back in time to the 1970's. Starting to write was the biggest and most difficult thing but I quickly discovered that one of the best ways of letting my imagination run riot was to think just like I did in the 1970's.
I think in some way all of the main characters in my books are me when I was young. Noah Ramsbottom from my first book is a mixture of me and both my brothers at eight years old. Sam Marsh the Viking King, is me as an older kid having the real life fantastic high tech adventures that I always wanted. Joe McCoy from my new book, Learning Labs is my younger self finally getting to fly in space ships like Han Solo.
So in many ways I did grow up, for a while at least. I went away to college, got a degree, got a desk job where people shouted down the phone at me, I got married, and then I thought "Why?" It was much more fun being a kid! So I can now safely declare that it's my sincere ambition that when I grow up I want to be a kid again. It's much more fun!