Inverness Book Festival
SHORTLISTED for the 2013 Scottish Children’s Book Award for her book The Accidental Time Traveller, former Highland resident Janis Mackay returns north today for an appearance at the Inverness Courier sponsored Inverness Book Festival at Eden Court.
The Edinburgh born and based author won the Kelpies Prize for Children’s fiction in 2009 with her novel Magnus Fin and the Ocean Quest and is launching a new Picture Kelpies book, The Wee Seal, in September.
Here she shares her own favourite books from childhood.
• The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton
• Grimm’s Fairy Tales
• The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
• The Call of the Wild by Jack London
• The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
"I quake a bit when people ask me what I read as a child," she said.
"Funny, you spend your life never being asked such questions, then you write books for children and you are asked such a question often. Then I think — oh dear — Enid Blyton, here we go again.
"So yes, Enid Blyton is mostly what I devoured and the Malory Towers books were my favourites. But as I think more about it, I realise the spoken work and story was always important to me.
"My mum used to take me to Portobello Library on Saturdays for story time; I had a poster of Robert Burns above my bed and used to know some of his poetry off by heart. I loved nursery rhymes and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. So language was important — but more rounded than just in books. There is also the colour of Scots and being brought up with that. So that as you grow up - like many Scottish people — you can almost speak two languages. I have always loved words, and the rhythms of language.
"I used to make up stories and was brought up hearing all the stories of Beatrix Potter — Peter Rabbit was my first character. I did also read Call of the Wild by Jack London and loved that. Then, when I was 14, our wonderful English teacher read us The Grapes of Wrath and I was astounded.
"I think if there was a Magnus Fin book around when I was nine or ten, I would have been touched and inspired by it. We are, perhaps, our ideal reader."
• Janis Mackay appears at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, on Friday 9th August at 4.30pm as part of the Inverness Book Festival.
Janis Mackay is published by Floris Books.