A Word With ...

A Word With ... - blog post image
BY Julia Thum | 0 Comment(s)

A huge welcome to today's guest, Laura Sheldon, a school teacher by day and an author by night. We're grateful that she had time to squeeze in our questions before marking! 

Laura is author of Mr Mahli’s Shed, Sophie Finds a FairyDoor and Joe and the Adventure Door Pirates’. Her most recent book, Bananabeeyumio, launched this week! Congratulations Laura and thank you so much for answering our questions today. 

What is the name of your favourite music artist?

A tricky one! I like different music for different things… I love Ben Howard because he makes me think of holidays in France (especially Old Pine). I love Rene Aubry (he composed the music for The Gruffalo, amongst many other things) because it’s brilliant music to choreograph dances to. I also really enjoy old soul to sing along to (VERY LOUDLY) in the car.

What is your favourite film?

If you’d asked me this when I was 9 I would have said ‘The Sound of Music’. I loved the music, dancing and Captain Von Trapp. I knew pretty much every word in the whole film. But now I’m all grown up and sophisticated, I’d probably say… The Pink Panther – because it makes my children howl with laughter.

If you could acquire any talent of superpower what would it be?

If I could turn my legs into crazy springs, like my characters in Bananabeeyumio, that would be a whole banana-bunch of fun. But wouldn’t the best superpower in the world be to eliminate war and famine? I don’t know how you’d do it, but it would change the whole world…

Which is your favourite character from your books?

I want to say Sam in Bananabeeyumio, because in my head he’s Ioan Gruffydd (google him), but really it’s Charlie from the same book. He’s based on my own son, and feels very real to me. He’s super-sporty and wants to impress but when it all gets a bit serious he realizes being a kid and playing is the best thing in the world (besides family of course). He goes on an adventure, makes some howlers, but manages to find the right path in the end.

If you could be any fictional character which one would you choose?

I would love to be a character from a Jane Austen novel. I’d swish about in long dresses, go to balls and make many a clever quip. After a day or so, I’m sure I’d be desperate to don my jeans, drive my car and gorge on a takeaway in front of a film though!

If you could meet any character from history, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

As our history was mostly written by men, I’d love to meet one of the thousands of unsung female figures who surely shaped our world. If I could choose just one person I’d plump for Maya Angleou. She was an author who died in 2014. She spoke out about issues that many of us find unimaginable and when I first read a book she had written (when I was a young teenager), it changed the way I saw the world.

What’s your favourite occupation when you’re not writing?

I’m also a primary school teacher and my favourite part of that job is when I get to teach dancing, poetry writing or art to the children. It’s so much fun exploring artistic talents together.

If I’m not at work I can often be found pounding the countryside. I live near the beach and love walking the coastline in search of blackberries, beautiful views and inspiration.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your days what would it be?

Toast. Can I have different things on it? My mother-in-law makes the most amazing lemon curd. It tastes like summer. Then I’d have peanut butter and Nutella (separately of course, I’m not nuts) and jam, but always loads of REAL butter.

(I am SO with you on that one – but I’m afraid I'd need Marmite too. And I’d have to put the peanut butter and jam on at the same time. My mouth is drooling at the thought! J)

Who are your favourite children’s authors?

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is brilliant. Framed is a work of art. I love Andy Stanton for sheer silliness too. Oliver Jeffers is the master of picture books.

Do you have any advice for young writers and storytellers?

When I was your age I had loads of ideas. I’d get inspired by something someone said, a picture in my head, a dream I had in bed, something new I’d read…

But I never finished anything. It’s wasn’t until I was 38 that I finished my first novel. My advice would be, if you’re like me and you find it hard to finish things, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just let the ideas flow and write and write and write. Whenever you have the nugget of an idea, write it down. Don’t be an ‘I might write’ be an ‘I write, right?’. And don’t be afraid to show people your stuff. Not everyone will love it and that’s OK. Not everyone loves Harry Potter, believe it or not. Having a go and letting go is the most important thing. And enjoy it. Making things up; making a whole new character or even a whole new world – now that’s an adventure.

(Fantastic advice! There was a great article in the TES recently about how it is more important to get you ideas down – worry about spelling and grammar later. You can find it on my Facebook page if you’re interested. It was music to my ears. J)

What can we look forward to from you next?

Bananabeeyumio – coming October 3rd, so start clearing shelf space! Actually, I hope it doesn’t spend a great deal of time on your shelf.

It’s a story for children who enjoy chapter books. It’s about this wonderful fudge/cake/biscuit that turns legs into springs. But it’s a secret. Shush! Actually, the secret does escape, and the story is about what happened when Charlie let the cat out of the bag.

He has to go off to an academy for sporting heroes, where he meets some great friends, a scary matron and an even scarier pair of sniffer dogs. He goes on an adventure that takes him from the athletics track to the other side of the Irish Sea and discovers lots about winning, losing and friendship along the way.

That does sound fun! Congratulations on your book launch Laura – I wish you every success. I am always in awe of teacher-authors, there seem to be quite a few of you out there which is just as it should be. You know better than anybody how to interest and engage young readers.

Thank you so much for answering our questions.




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