Michael Byrne worked as an English teacher in a secondary school just a mile from Heathrow. He then moved to Winchester to work as an airport taxi driver. The irony is not lost on him. Michael lives with his daughter Eve and their cat Chloe in Hampshire. He is now a full time writer and Lottery Boy is his first novel.
Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I learned to read a little later on than most children (when I was eight) and I found Enid Blyton books, especially The Five Find-Outers series, easy to get through. I liked reading about a bunch of twelve year-old children solving crimes and eating cakes all on their own in coffee shops.
I loved The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe series and a lot of science fiction books predicting a future where everyone travelled in space and had a flat screen TV (though I don’t remember reading about mobile phones).
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: Probably a Centaur from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (one who doesn’t get frozen by the White Witch) or Jim Hawkins the cabin boy in Treasure Island.
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: That feeling you get when you know what the writer’s talking about, and it’s as if he or she knows what you’re thinking about too; as if the writer and you are twinned at that point in the story.
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: Catch 22. It’s a phrase that’s made its way into the English language and the best title there is for a book, too.
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: The best way to develop a child’s communication skills is simply to take an interest in that child: to talk to them, not at them. I ask questions – doesn’t matter whether you’re watching TV together or eating your dinner; talk is the thing – and doesn’t cost anything.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: Well, my mum used to say I wrote nice words in birthday cards…
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: I used to encourage my daughter to read by taking her to the library and buying her books which tied in with films she liked. I also read to her a lot. It wasn’t always successful; I tried reading Animal Farm to her when she was four, thinking she might like it, but we didn’t get very far into it (two pages) before the animals started dying and she started crying.
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