Steve Hartley is a full time writer who lives in Lancashire. His brand new series Oliver Fibbs may be about stories and fibs but Steve says he has never ever told a fib in is his life – but is that a lie? Steve he has also written the Danny Baker Record Breaker series and taken part in two World Records.
Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I was an avid Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh fan when I was a younger child. As I grew older, I discovered comics like The Hotspur, Victor, (sadly no longer in print) and of course the Dandy and Beano.
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: The hero of my first series, Danny Baker Record Breaker, is the boy I always wanted to be. Other than that, I think Coraline is a fantastic character: brave, resourceful and clever. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes in the story however!
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: Being able to take myself off into imaginary worlds and live lives and adventures that would normally be beyond me. Where else but in books can you be a pirate, an astronaut, a spy, a knight, or a really naughty boy?! It’s the best thing about writing too.
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: My all time favourite book would probably be Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. In children’s fiction, I don’t have a single book that I think is better than anything I’ve ever read. I could easily pick any one of these: The Twits, by Roald Dahl; Holes, by Louis Sachar; Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce; Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve; and It’s a Book, by Lane Smith; or Coraline, by Neil Gaiman.
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! Talk to them about anything and everything – school, the news, football, TV, books. Ask them questions, and ask for their opinions.
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: When I was young, they encouraged me to be a good reader, which after all, is the first step to being a good writer. I remember regular visits to the local library, and once, when I was about six or seven, being furious with my older brother because he’d taken out a book for me that I’d already read! And I didn’t just read fiction; I read non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, and comics. I didn’t discover that I could write, and that I loved telling stories, until I was in my thirties, and had children of my own. I wish I’d realised sooner what great fun it is!
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: My daughter is twenty years old now, so we don’t read together anymore! However, our house has always been full of books, and we always read a story at bedtime, without fail. Grab them young! There are so many fantastic picture books out there to seize a young imagination, and entertain an older one too. They are funny, moving, exciting, and the best ones make you think. Hopefully, once hooked, your child will want to advance up the scale. However, you can’t force them to read. Kids will find their own level, and read what interests them. I don’t think it matters what it is: a story, a history book, or the report on the footy match at the weekend (which is a story, after all) – just get them reading something on a regular basis, and then talk to them about what they’ve read.