I have always enjoyed reading. My mother used to say that when I got my head into a book I didn’t hear anything else. This was true.
I learned to read before going to school and once there I discovered the dreaded Enid Blyton. I really cannot understand why she is considered so bad. OK, perhaps it was true that she didn’t stretch children’s vocabulary, I don’t know about that, and Mr Golly in Noddy is nowadays considered to be racist, (although at the time, Golliwogs abounded and were not considered racist). I don’t actually remember ever reading Noddy. The books that I enjoyed were The Famous Five and the Adventure series (The Mountain of Adventure, The Ship of Adventure etc.). At least she got children reading.
One of my favourite books was Shadow the Sheepdog. I have a thought that it too was Enid Blyton, but I may be wrong about that. This was, in fact, the book that inspired me to write my first ‘novel’. I wrote a book about a dog. I’m not sure how old I was, but I was quite young because I spelled ‘of’ phonetically. ‘ov’ all the way through. It was not really a book, but a short story, but I was proud of it.
In my teens I wrote a slushy romantic novel. We were all reading this type of work at that time. That too was terrible, but my friends enjoyed it. I was not very enterprising though. I’ve just been reading how Stephen King sold his first stories to his school friends. I gave mine away! I also began to write poetry at this time. I discovered D.H.Lawrence’s Snake and realised that there was such a thing as blank verse. I continued writing poetry while studying to become a teacher. I actually had my first work published in the University Magazine. This is the only work I have from this era.
I did little writing then until the late 1980s when I took up poetry again. Every Christmas at the school where I was teaching we had a little entertainment at the staff party. Members of staff did little acts and I wrote a piece about something that had happened in the year at school. Most of those pieces are lost too.
My love of Fantasy came from being introduced to J.R.R. Tolkein by a young boy of 9 on my second teaching practice. He went by the wonderful name of Fred Spittal. (Fred, if you are out there, many thanks.) I found The Hobbit and devoured it, then of course The Lord of the Rings. Then I went through the C.S. Lewis books. Eventually I was running a Dungeons and Dragons club at the school where I was teaching. I wrote a scenario for them which has morphed into The Wolves of Vimar. I don’t think that many of them would recognise it now.