What books did you read when you were a child?
Too many to mention, but I devoured anything featuring travel, magic and adventure. The Magic Faraway Tree was the first, but it was soon followed by Ladybird books of Greek mythology (I was usually rooting for the monsters), the Asterix and Tintin comics, The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy, the Target novelisations of old Doctor Who serials, and countless collections of short sci-fi and horror stories.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I’d quite like to be Willy Wonka – he’s clever, he’s funny, and he lives in the world’s greatest chocolate factory. He also seems to have had plenty of adventures of his own, long before Charlie Bucket ever turned up. I think it would be fascinating to spend a day in his shoes.
What is the best thing about reading?
It opens doors to worlds beyond your own. It lets you explore, discover and – most importantly – understand things that you might never be able to experience otherwise.
What is your all time favourite book?
There are so many good books out there, and I’d never want to identify one at the expense of all the others. That said, anything by Diana Wynne Jones is a contender, especially Year of the Griffin. But my tastes change depending on my mood, so if you were to ask me this question tomorrow, you might get a different answer.
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to them. Notice them. Pay them attention. I think that’s what it all comes down to. If you take an interest in your child, and they can see you taking an interest, they’ll have the confidence to share their thoughts with you. That’s where all communication starts.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A very big part. First of all, they encouraged me to read from a very early age, and weren’t at all judgemental about the sort of stuff I enjoyed. Secondly, they were very supportive once I started writing my own stories. They took an interest, they drove me to local writing groups after school, and they gave me time and space to get on with it. I couldn’t have done it without them.
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I have two boys, and my wife and I have always read them bedtime stories. It’s become a bit of a ritual now, and it’s one of my favourite parts of the day. They both enjoy funny stories, so we’ve been working our way through Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak is a big favourite. And my eldest son has just discovered The 13 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, and he’s already hooked. I’d love them to read more during the day as well, but creating the time and the quiet for it is a real struggle.
P.G. Bell is a native of south Wales, where he was raised on a diet of Greek mythology, ghost stories and Doctor Who.
He’s had all sorts of jobs over the years, from lifeguard to roller coaster operator, but has always wanted to write stories. He lives in Wales with his wife Anna, and their two children. The Train to Impossible Places is his first novel, and he is currently working on the sequel.
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