An Interview With David Almond

FacebookCoverPhotoBy Kira Taylor @kirataylor15

exetreme imagination is really lucky to have award winning writer David Almond visit. Alongside a panel discussion about explicit content in books, he’ll be part of ‘The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon’ adaptation, doing a meet the author after it.

 ‘The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon’ is a book for younger children, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. It’s written with a fun voice, beginning in a tower block with all the tower block conventions: singing in the shower, smelling sausages and the sort of repetitive floor signs that seem like milestones once you get past level six. It tells the story of Paul and his fantasy of reaching the sky.

 “The inspiration for what I write comes from all over the place, just the world itself,” said David. “The world itself is a miraculous, wonderful, amazing, strange place … my own childhood is a big inspiration, the place where I live, the North East of England, the landscape, the language, the culture of the North East of England are very powerful to me.”

 He also is influenced by books and music. “Other writers are a huge influence on the way I write and what I write about … I think you have to draw influences, if you’re going to be a writer, from everywhere, anything that you really like, anything that you really engage with, even if it’s something you don’t like, but if it somehow charges you then that’s an influence.”

 There are some brilliant characters with amazingly bizarre entrances, such as Harry’s first appearance in rigorous exercise. It sounds like it would make a brilliant, if slightly odd, film.

 The play is for 5-11 year olds (or anyone who wishes to be 5-11 for the day) and the adaptation is by Theatre Alibi’s Daniel Jamieson. Theatre Alibi are contemporary storytellers who use animation, film, puppetry and more to bring the works to life for all ages.

 David Almond had very little involvement in the play, partly due to living several hours away. I asked what elements he hopes will be picked up by the adaptation.

 “I think the love that’s in it,” he said. “It seemed to me that when I was writing it there was a great deal of affection between the different characters, the tolerance of each other’s idiosyncrasies, so that’s what I’m hoping. And also the colourfulness of it. I know when I was writing it it felt to me a very colourful book and I could see lots of colours and lots of light, so I hope that’s been achieved as well.”

 Talking about the importance of books for children, David said that they’re central. “It begins when a baby’s first born we begin to tell it stories, we begin to play with language. Then we have picture books and rhymes and dances and songs and it’s all part of the same thing, and then children read short books with simple language. It seems to me to be a central part of growing up. It serves to make us a civilised society and all the evidence shows that children do read – in some ways, it doesn’t matter what they read – children who read for pleasure will do better whether that means become more rounded and more integrated adults than if they hadn’t read.”

 His favourite book growing up was ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’ by Roger Lancelyn Green. “He’s a wonderful writer. The edition I read had fantastic illustrations by a German artist called Lotte Reiniger, which are just wonderful and I love books with pictures, I love illustrated books and King Arthur had the most amazing illustrations.

 

The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon will be playing at Exeter Phoenix:

Saturday 22nd October: 2pm & 4pm.

Sunday 23rd October: 11:30 (relaxed performance – more informal and families can leave and re-enter theatre) 2:30 (BSL interpreted and meet David Almond)

£10 (£7) Family: £30 (2 adults+ 2 children/1 adult+ 3 children).

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