Can you tell us about your journey to life as a professional writer?
I I’m from a town called Oldham in the North of England just outside Manchester. During my early years, gymnastics was a big part of my life. For a while it even looked like that would be my career; I trained professionally five times a week. When I was growing up I never had a job in mind. What I did know was that languages, different cultures and travel had always interested me. So although I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer I knew I wanted to work in an area related to communication, language, culture and, ideally, travel. I travelled in Europe, South America and Cuba before studying Spanish and Portuguese for four years and finally moved to London, which has been my home for over five years.
What is it about writing that most inspires you?
I think words are very powerful, more so than people realise. The effect of words – whether encountered in a chapter in a book, a lyric in a song or a line in a film - can be life changing. A line that has particular resonance for me is: “Tudo tem limites”, which translates as “Everything has a limit” It’s a line from a Brazilian film called Central do Brasil about a young boy who forms a special friendship with a middle-aged woman. It stuck with me. As a young man living and working in a big city, I push myself and can get carried away by expecting a lot from others and myself. It’s a phrase that reminds me when to say: “that’s enough”.
With kids increasingly engaging with all sorts of media, how can writers keep children reading?
It’s a big challenge. There’s no denying that advancements in the digital world have drawn children away from books and the written word. Part of the “mission” to keep children reading is embracing those advancements and using them as a platform for children’s stories. Some publications I write for have increased their online presence and launched fantastic apps, making their content and words more interactive. Still, it’s wonderful when I see a child captivated by a book or magazine they’re reading. Very recently I saw a mother and her son reading a book together on the train, and they were having so much fun together. It was really lovely.
If you could magically enable every child on earth to experience one similar thing, what would it be?
I think I’d make sure each child could get to visit the place they dreamed of most. We all daydreamed as kids, letting out minds wander to somewhere different and fascinating. It could be anywhere - the moon, the deep sea, the jungle, the North Pole, a country we’d studied in school, Disneyland, wherever. If every child could get the opportunity to visit that place, it would be quite something.
PHOTOGRAPHER MARC HOM | WORDS BY MATTHEW FREEMANTLE | FILM BY OLIVER KNAUER | ART DIRECTION KENDAL AND PARTNERS