A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
A huge welcome to new member of Author Allsorts, and attendee at this year’s UKYACX in Newcastle – Matt Ralphs!
For his first post, and as part of the tour, Matt asks the question – Why Write?
“Why did I become a writer? It’s a question I ponder a lot. I think it’s a good idea to question yourself about the big decisions, to keep tabs on how you feel about life and the way things are going. After all, like anyone pursuing a career with serious intent, I spend a lot of time and effort trying to be as good as I can be.
The notion of becoming a writer sneaked into my mind when I was young. My parents, bless them, encouraged me to play outside (whatever the weather) and to read books. This helped me fire up my imagination and create characters and worlds from nothing.
By reading, by falling into the pages of books and being transported out of the real world, I learned that writing is alchemy. With the right combination of words on a page you can create anything: a moonlit battlefield, a mouth-watering banquet, mountaintops and ocean depths, sunrises, sunsets, lonely monsters, assassin princesses, tears, joy, jokes, an ordinary day disrupted by an undead attack . . . an infinity of anything you can imagine.
Matt’s debut – Fire Girl
And that’s a pretty intoxicating thought: being able to implant images, sights, sounds and stories into people’s minds just by them reading the words you’ve written. That’s power, right there, but it took me a long time to pluck up the courage to sit down and actually attempt to write a novel.
Having worked in publishing I knew how challenging it is to actually get published. There are lots of great writers out there, so many great books, and only so much space on bookshop shelves. Yet the nagging desire to join the ranks of writers I’d admired all my life never left me, and eventually I had an idea for a story that I felt was good enough to run with. Five years of hard work later, I had the first draft of Fire Girl.
I recognise the huge debt I owe to the great writers who inspired me when I was young. I still revisit many of them. Richmal Crompton’s ‘William’ books (ingenious stories, brilliant characters, and so funny); Captain WE Johns’ ‘Biggles’ books (thrilling, often serious wartime adventures); Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ (Middle Earth feels as real to me as England) and Richard Adams’ ‘Watership Down’, a beautiful book as deep as it is wide, and which is not afraid to go to dark places.
Matt’s second book – Fire Witch
So when I ask myself why I became a writer even though there are much easier and more secure ways of making a living, I remember how I felt when I was a boy and the life-changing impressions those books I mentioned had on me. And if someone reads one of my books and feels inspired to write something of their own, then as far as I’m concerned that makes all the hair pulling and hard work I put in when writing worthwhile.
And besides, most of the time, writing is the best fun ever!”
The UKYA and Children’s Extravaganza is in Newcastle Saturday 17th September.
There are only a few tickets left – so get your skates on. Look forward to seeing you there!