Cathy Cassidy is Puffin's top-selling author for girls. She was an art teacher, a magazine editor and an agony aunt before becoming a full-time writer. She has worked at Shout magazine and previously at Jackie, the magazine famously named after Jacqueline Wilson. Cathy tours extensively around the UK - meeting over 10,000 young readers in 2012. She has twice won the prestigious 'Queen of Teen' award. Cathy lives with her husband, two teenage children, two dogs, two cats and a rabbit.
Q: 1. What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I loved books and reading, and regularly visited three of our local libraries with my dad to borrow armfuls of them! Favourites included the Narnia books by CS Lewis, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Swallows And Amazons series by Arthur Ransome.
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Alice in Wonderland...
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: It’s a magic carpet to endless new worlds and realities…
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger.
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Talk to them, play with them, tell stories, share history, take them outside to jump in puddles, give them paint and paper so they can express themselves. Don’t get too hung up on exam grades or compare them to others, and take time out to have adventures and explore the world, near and far. Most of all, listen.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: My dad encouraged me in everything I did and shared my love of reading – and writing, although he was a car mechanic, not a writer! He was a big dreamer and taught me early on follow my dreams and work hard to make them happen, and not to give up easily. He believed in me, I guess, and that made a huge difference.
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: I loved reading with my kids… picture books read out loud, over and over, the three of us huddled on the sofa. We made regular trips to the local library and also had our own collection of books, old and new. My son loved reading from the start and I often had to remove heaps of them from his bed after he’d fallen asleep; my daughter was harder to please, and trying to find something she’d love to read was one of the triggers that started me writing children’s books. It worked! There’s a book for everyone, and once you’ve found that doorway into the world of stories it need never close. Favourites when my kids were small? The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and A Lion In The Meadow by Margaret Mahy. My daughter and I loved a fabulous Jane Ray illustrated version of Grimm’s Twelve Dancing Princesses, too. Now my kids are young adults, and we often share and swap books which is very cool!