David Cadji-Newby

What books did you read when you were a child?
I remember loving Richard Scarry, that’s an early memory – I’ve still got the book, Busiest People Ever – my son reads it, too. I read all the Enid Blytons, The Secret Sevenand The Famous Five. I read a lot, myself and my brother, we read all the time. The Hardy Boys, I loved them. I remember going to the library and hoping they hadn’t already been taken out.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Peter Pan. I was 41 a week or so ago, and I’ve had more than enough of growing up.

What is the best thing about reading?
Escapism. I should probably say something more worthy, like self-discovery, but for me, a book transports you entirely away from the here and now, more than any film ever could.

What is your all time favourite book?
Probably From Here To Eternityby James Jones. Amazing characterisation, I remember finishing the book and feeling genuine sorrow that I wouldn’t hear the characters talk any more.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Sounds obvious, but talking is a big thing. Finding the time, creating the space to have discussions. It can be hard, because the basis of good conversations with children is knowing them, what they do, what they love, and lives are so busy that it’s so easy to lose touch. But making the time to engage with what a child has to say, showing them that their opinions and experiences are valid and interesting, is very important.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My home was always full of books, so I never wanted for anything to read, and the variety was always huge – from Jane Austen to William Burroughs – so I think my formative years were quite rich in literature. My parents didn’t overtly encourage me, or at least never pushed me, but having that background definitely helped.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Fortunately my son loves reading, so that makes things easier. I try to encourage all kinds of reading – anything he wants to read, fiction, fact books, graphic novels (that’s the current craze) – it’s all valuable. Elias is nine now, so he tends to read on his own, although the other night I read the first few chapter of The Twitsto him, we were both in fits. That book is so funny. Deliciously, unpleasantly, nastily funny.

David Cadji-Newby is a British writer who lives in London. He has written in the big scary world of advertising and in the happy fluffy world of comedy. His second book for children The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home is out now.

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