The Interview: Bookbag Talks To David Windle

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To David Windle


Summary: After reading Spudboy and Chip by David Windle Jill wants a potato superhero. There was a lot to talk about when the author popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 5 May 2017
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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After reading Spudboy and Chip by David Windle Jill wants a potato superhero. There was a lot to talk about when the author popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

David Windle: I see primary school aged children laughing and enjoying the story, then I see them picking up their pens and writing their own silly superhero story. That's the key for me! The book is designed not only to inspire children to read but also to inspire them to write, to access their own wild and crazy imaginations. So - in my imagination - my readers are both readers and authors.

  • BB: We loved Spudboy and Chip. It's so original! Where did the idea of a potato-based superhero come from?

DW: There are so many superhero books, comics and films out there and usually a superhero is really cool. Spiderman merged with a spider and was given amazing powers. But what if you accidentally became merged with something a bit rubbish, like a potato - how would that go for you? I wanted to think of the silliest thing I could merge with, the least superheroic item in the universe, and a potato came to mind. Plus, every child can get hold of a potato so they really could have their very own potato sidekick.

  • BB: Will you be writing more books about Colin?

DW: That's the plan! This is only book one of the series. Colin has only just merged with the potato and met Chip. Now he is Spudboy, he can have lots more adventures.

  • BB: How did you find the process of bringing a book to publication? What advice would you offer to other aspiring authors?

DW: Tough. My agent and I worked on this to get it ready for publishers; I also worked with a mentor / editor at Cornerstones Agency. After many knock backs from mainstream publishers, and after various drafts of the book, I decided to self publish using Amazon's Create Space system. All I need to do was find a good cover designer, and I really think I hit gold with Gavin Dobson. His illustrations are perfect. My advice would be to see the project through no matter what happens. In my experience, the whole process can take years, so it's worth finding a way to publish by hook or by crook. These days self publishing is a good option.

  • BB: And, as a teacher, how on earth do you find the time to write?!

DW: Summer holidays, of course. I wrote the first draft over 6 weeks in July / Aug 2015, then spent the next year redrafting and rewriting the manuscript. I now have 2 children of my own, so my Summer holidays are going to be a bit more full from here on in. I'll have to find time in the early hours of the morning. I hear many people like to write between 2am and 5am...I'm not so sure.

  • BB: We thought your website was brilliant. How important is poetry in fostering a love of literacy in children?

DW: Thank you. I absolutely love poetry. Loving poetry is loving language, and it's also loving thought, feeling and deep engagement with human experience. In that sense, I think poetry is an incredibly important part of a child's education. Not only that, it also teaches children to enjoy words, word play and the feeling create by a word's sound. Once you've enjoyed a poem, you can then carry that enjoyment of language on into longer or more complex texts. The beauty of poetry is that it is short and snappy, very often, so you get a quick hit of linguistic brilliance without having to work too hard for it. In my experience, when children connect with poetry they are then able to have a deeper relationship with texts of all types.

  • BB: What three books should every child read?

DW: Apart from Spudboy and Chip, you mean? James and the Giant Peach, for it's surrealness. Anthony McGowan's rewrites of the Willard Price adventure series - they're gripping tales, with an environmental message and they have a strong female lead character. For teenagers, I loved 'The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss - it's both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

  • BB: What would be your desert island book?

DW: Aside from the Complete Works of Shakespeare (do I get that throw in, like on Desert Island Discs?), it would either be Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney, or Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

  • BB: Which children's author do you most admire?

DW: That's a difficult one. David Almond for Skellig. Andy Stanton for the amazing Mr Gum. Sally Gardner for Maggot Moon. Meg Rosoff for How I Live Now.

The aforementioned Tony McGowan and Tony Bradman both came into my school to talk to the children and were excellent. They were generous, sincere and thoughtful in their responses to the children. I admire that enormously.

  • BB: What's next for David Windle?

DW: As well as writing Spudboy book number 2, I'm going to be making some teaching resources to go with book 1 and some to go with the poems on my poetry website. Other than that, I'm just going to keep on teaching, keep on writing and keep on going.

  • BB: Thanks for taking the time in a busy schedule to talk to us, David.

You can read more about David Windle here.

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