Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Guest Post: Five Magical Children's Books That Influenced Me By Amy Wilson, Author Of Snowglobe

I asked Amy Wilson, author of Snowglobe, which children's books most inspired her own writing. Fantasy fiction seems to be an evergreen genre within the world of children's publishing; Amy's answer to my question will provide inspiration to parents, teachers and children to explore beyond the more recent and obvious contributions to introduce some classic titles to their to be read pile. 

The magical books I read when I was younger put wonder in my veins when I needed it the most.  They gave me friendship and family when I was lonely, and they showed me that one small, isolated person has the power to change so much. They gave me hope. Here are five that had the most impact:

The first, and the one always on the tip of my tongue, is The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones. I read it shortly after my father died, when I was eleven and just about to start secondary school. It wasn’t an easy time, and this book was such comfort. It swept me up and gave me the warmth of family, and showed me that true friendship was possible, even if we feel our own differences make us somehow unlovable. And it had magic, and a version of Italy that I still adore now.

The second would be The Horse and His Boy, by CS Lewis. I loved that story. I loved everything about it, and was devastated when, aged about nine, I realised I was terribly allergic to horses. I had imagined myself so many times on wild adventures with my beautiful companion, but after about five minutes in a stable I knew that was never going to happen. I have quite a lot of allergies but I think that might be the one that caused me the most sadness as a child. I’m sure my books would have a lot more horses in them if I’d been able to have those adventures of my own!

The third is Mort, by Terry Pratchett. Discovering his books in my twenties was such a gift. It brought me back into reading. I loved most the humour that accompanied all the magic, the warmth of the characters and their relationships, the sheer audacity of a world carried by four elephants on the back of a turtle. It reminded me that in fiction, anything is possible. Which I still need reminding of now, every so often! Mort had a big impact on Snowglobe especially; I think that image of a house full of snowglobes, and of a shadowy figure stalking the corridors, owes something directly to Death and his house of timers, and I’m very grateful to Terry Pratchett for the inspiration.

The fourth would be The Belgariad, by David Eddings. I got lost in that series for weeks! There were so many of them, and the truly wonderful thing about them was, again, that warmth of friendship and family, the sense of possibility. I especially loved the friendship between Barak and Silk, I can still hear their banter now.

The fifth is actually the first I encountered, which is a collection of Hans Christian Anderson stories. They were creepy and vivid and magical and I loved them, even as they haunted me. They’re a good reminder now, too, that children’s stories can have dark and twisty bits, that what scares us isn’t always bad for us.

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