I wanna tell you a story

I wanna tell you a story

But before that, comes the research.

One of the motivations for going freelance was the opportunity to try writing a children’s book and, since Christmas, I’ve spent some more time on that.

Lately, I read more children’s picture books than your seven year old and feel utterly conspicuous as a lone male in the low-shelved, beanbag section of the local library. The librarian is a mere heartbeat away from hitting the DEFCON 5 Social Services alert, I’m sure.

There’s also lots of “how to write a book” research. Sadly, I know I can’t just bash out 500 words, FedEx them to Penguin and expect a seven figure deal. Some research is kid’s book specific, some is more general, like the infamous Robert McKee Story principles.

Story is aimed at screenwriters but it’s an important book – even if you don’t agree with it all. As a result, I know exactly what my protagonist’s previous four decades of life were like, even though I seriously doubt we’ll have any time-travel adventures.

And then, as of this week, there’s some new research – I started volunteering as a reading buddy at a local primary school. I’m already psyched to see there’s still The Witches, still Charlotte’s Web, still Stig Of The Dump. Getting to hear first-hand what kids think about books will be ace. I hope I can transmit some of my enthusiasm onto them too.

In preparation for the school visits, I bought Garth Jennings’ new children’s book, The Deadly 7, which came out last week. Garth used to make achingly brilliant pop videos, back in the day when making achingly brilliant pop videos was what we all aspired towards. Then he directed the Hitchhiker’s Guide film and made Son of Rambow. Now he’s locked away in the studios of the Despicable Me makers, rustling up a new animation. Can’t wait.

Garth’s an insanely enthusiastic guy to listen to, you can’t help but get carried along with him, so if the book’s written in the same vein – and the jacket description suggests it might be – it’ll be a riot. Of course, I’m only reading it for research…

RESEARCH QUESTION: Tell me, what do your kids love reading right now? Or what books did you love as a child?

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